1. Though Bottom often steals the show in performance, Puck is usually considered the most important character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Comparing Puck to Bottom, why might Puck be considered the protagonist? In what way does Puck’s spirit dominate the mood of the play? In what ways does the comedy surrounding Puck differ from that surrounding Bottom?
2. Compare and contrast the Athenian lovers with the craftsmen. In what ways are the dispositions of the two groups different from each other? Are they the same in any way?
3. What role do Theseus and Hippolyta play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? What is the significance of the fact that they are absent from the play’s main action?
4. It has been argued that the characters of the Athenian lovers are not particularly differentiated from one another—that Hermia is quite like Helena (even down to her name) and that Demetrius resembles Lysander. Do you think that this is the case, or do you think that the lovers emerge as individuals? If you believe that these characters are quite similar to one another, what do you think Shakespeare’s intent was in making them so?
It is only in the last few decades that the position of women in society has been reexamined. From reading Shakespeare’s plays, we have some information about their negative treatment in the 1500s and 1600s. What, precisely, was this negative treatment of women to which we no longer adhere?
I. Thesis Statement: In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare demonstrates the negative treatment women received from society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
II. Owned by Father
A. Father has the right to choose daughter’s husband
B. Failure of daughter to comply with father’s choice will lead to either death or banishment to a nunnery
III. Unable to Choose Husband
A. See II.
B. Hermia faces death or banishment be eloping with Lysander
C. Hippolyta won in battle by Theseus
IV. Friendships Dependent upon Mate
A. Hermia hates Helena because Lysander loves Helena
B. Helena wants to be like Hermia because Demetrius loves Hermia
V. Hypocrisy in Sexual Values
A. Hermia asks Lysander not to sleep so close to her in the wood since they are not yet married although they are in the act of eloping
B. Although married, Oberon and Titania freely have affairs
People are commonly referred to as “ass” when they behave poorly or stupidly. How has William Shakespeare exemplified such behavior by having Robin Goodfellow (Puck) replace Nick Bottom’s head with that of the animal, an ass?
I. Thesis Statement: In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare demonstrates the appropriateness of certain animal labels to describe human behavior—to wit, Bottom’s having an ass’s head.
II. The Qualities of Bottom’s Character Which are Similar to Those of the Animal, An Ass
A. Stubbornness as he refuses to allow his friends to see his fear at being alone in the haunted wood
B. Casual awareness of his sexuality when Titania courts him
C. Coarse hair of which he complains to the fairies without realizing he possesses an ass’s head
III. Bottom’s Denial of his Feelings
A. Refuses to join his friends when they flee the haunted wood for fear they will know he realizes (or thinks he realizes) they are making a jest of him
B. Whistles for courage rather than admit his fear when he finds himself in the haunted wood alone
C. Thinks his experience was a dream while probably feeling it was real
IV. Lack of Examination of New Situations
A. Blindly accepts the role of Titania’s lover
B. After being freed of Puck’s spell, doesn’t question why his body no longer has...
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