Essay on the Moon in A Mid-summer Night's Dream

Published: Monday, 27 January 2014 Written by Doryanne Wilkins

A Midsummer Night's Dream Essay on the Moon and Characters of the play.



The moon in William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is now only a luminous, passive observer appearing in the night sky but a powerful force. Several references to the moon are made in this play - both favorable and dismissive.  This enchanting figure is closely linked with several themes of the play and has several effects on many of the characters who dare enter the wood at night. 

 To begin, in William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" there is a clear link between the moon and many of the themes.  Marriage, for instance, one of the major themes of the play, includes  a reference to the moon in Act I Scene I - "O, methinks how slow this old moon wanes!"  In this line, Theseus grieves to his soon to be wife, Hippolyta, as he longs to get married and cannot wait any longer.  Their reliance on the moon to wed shows their yearning for it as a witness to the joy that will take place on both their wedding day and night.  In addition, there is also a link between disorder and the moon. This is shown in Titania's speech in Act II Scene I - "No night is now with hymn or coral blest : Therefore the moon, the governor of the floods, pale in her anger, washes all the air."  Following the moon's wrath it is made known that "rheumatic diseases" becomes plentiful and that the "seasons alter" along with other disasters. The moon's relationship with the theme disorder and magic is shown in Act II Scene I.  The moon aids Puck and other mystical fairies by befuddling humans who are susceptible to its drug-like presence.  The characters get into a dream-like state whilst the fairies take over.

 Additionally, in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"  by William Shakespeare, there are several uses of lunar imagery.  For example, in Act II of Scene I Titania's fairy takes great delight in the fact that she is a night creature.  She brags to Puck - "I do wonder everywhere, swifter than the moon's sphere." Although this sounds overly dramatic and foolish it does have an underlying meaning - it shows that she, along with the other fairies, are masters of the moon and night and are not affected by the tricks of the moon unlike humans.  Also, there is another reference to lunar imagery by Helena who is love sick in Act I Scene I.  She admires Hermia who is being wooed by two men one of whom she is in love with yet denies her.  She lovingly says - "Your eyes are like lode-stars," which are stars.  These are luminaries which lead and attract wanderers, and in that case it would seem that Hermia does indeed have lodestars in her eyes.  This celestial image is connected to dreaming and hints that the moon has an enchanting effect on her.  Lastly, the character "moonshine" who Bottom raves about in Act III Scene I is a synecdoche and a replacement of the moon therefore personifies it.  It is hinted that it is Moonshine's presence that adds the dramatic elements of their play, as well as the confusion and romance.

 Moreover, in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" the moon has many effects on the characters.  In Act I Scene I, Egeus complains that Lysander "by moonlight at her [Hermia's]  window sung."  This is evident that due to the moon's enchantment Lysander  was amorous of Hermia.  The moon's effect on humans can be seen further as Puck happily says "I am the merry wanderer of the night" in Act II Scene I.  The night, which is aided by the moon allows the dream-like feel of the humans to be activated.  They are unaware of what is truly taking place and fall into the hands of whoever wishes to take advantage.  Even the royals are affected by the moon as they wait on its complete waning to wed.  The moon's effect on them are seen further as Theseus is agitated by the " slow waning moon" until Hippolyta, who is more patient, comforts him - "Four Nights will quickly dream away the time; and then the moon - like to silver bow new-bent to heaven - shall behold the night of our solemnities." - Act I Scene I.

 To conclude, In William Shakespeare's " A Midsummer Night's Dream" the moon's effects, relationships with themes and references to lunar imagery can be explained. It's recurrent image shows its importance to the people and their lives in Shakespeare's time.

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