Within Midsummer Nights: Dichotomies in the Collective Dream

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Vol: 9, Issue: 1

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New, Cheryl
Shakespeare; dreams; English Language and Literature
article description
Generations of readers have recognized William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a light-hearted comedy that delights and engages. Its subject appears straight-forward and winningly superficial: love—love that conquers all—and how it affects the lives of four Athenian youths. But if we are to look to the title to receive some direction, we would notice a succession of nouns: summer, night, and dream. What do these things mean? Each of them has an opposite, an archetypical antithesis that rules one aspect of the play. These pairs, as well as the pairs of lovers themselves, enforce an extended series of dichotomies on the play which in turn veil wonderlands of meaning and symbolic significance. The unconscious interpretation of these meanings echoes the nature of dreams—that which we recall as a perpetual memory but never experience.