A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Light and Dark Sides of the Supernatural

As critic Ronald Miller so eloquently declared, "The complex and subtle intellectuality of Shakespeare's comic art was never better illustrated than by A Midsummer Night's Dream and, in particular, by Shakespeare's employment of the fairies in that play" (Miller 486). It may be added that the employment of this type of supernaturalism, in general, is what distinguishes A Midsummer Night's Dream from any other Shakespearean work. Though many critics of Shakespeare's time thought this work to be a "piece of fluff," modern critic Miller suggests that it "is now more likely to be read as a study in the epistemology of the imagination" (486).

Overall, Shakespeare's use of supernaturalism masterfully portrays joviality. The tone is filled with mystical and whimsical elements of fantasy that produce a very happy and sprightly atmosphere. The only hint of the darker side of the supernatural world is his mention of ghosts in the third act:

...Yonder shines Aurora's harbinger;

At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,

Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits all,

That in crossways and floods have burial,

Already to their wormy beds are gone;

For fear lest day should look...

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