Ever since the beginning of time, man has always had a strong fascination with dreams and the imagination. Shakespeare is no exception to this and many of his plays explore these ideas and in some ways rely upon the idea of the imagination and dream in order to convey this message. His plays cross the boundary between illusion and reality, which at the time was conceived to be the norm, which is why his audience had no trouble believing his plays.
As the title suggests, dreams are an important theme in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; they are linked to the bizarre, magical mishaps in the forest. Hippolyta’s first words in the play make evident the prevalence of dreams “Four days will quickly steep themselves in”, and various characters mention dreams throughout. The theme of dreaming recurs predominantly when characters attempt to explain bizarre events in which these characters are involved: “I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what,” Bottom says, unable to fathom the magical happenings that have affected him as anything but the result of slumber.
Shakespeare is also interested in the actual workings of dreams, in how events occur without explanation, time loses its normal sense of flow, and the impossible occurs as a matter of course; he seeks to recreate this environment in the play through the intervention of the fairies in the magical forest. At the end of the play, Puck extends the idea of dreams to the audience members themselves, saying that, if they have been offended by the play, they should remember it as nothing more than a dream. This sense of illusion and gauzy fragility is crucial to the atmosphere of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as it helps render the play a fantastical experience rather than a heavy drama.
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is set in the time of when beliefs were very different to today. Shakespeare himself was living in the time when fairies and witches were thought credible. The beliefs of the time would have been why...