Discuss the play within the play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known and popular dramas composed and performed between 1595-1596 .

The Play Within The Play

The Mechanicals want to put on a performance at Theseus’ wedding, but they’re not sure what to do. Bottom proposes that it be about a dictator named “Ercles” (his mispronunciation of “Hercules”). Quince is certain that it be “the most pitiful comedy, and the cruellest death of Pyramus and Thisbe.” For a marriage, a love romance is acceptable, but the Pyrarmus-Thisbe storey ends in calamity. Pyramus kills himself, mistakingly believing that a lion had killed Thisbe; Thisbe discovers him dead and she too dies.

Weddings, dances, and feasts are all symbols of harmony and fertility in a Romantic comedy. In contrast to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the Pyramus-Thisbe drama had a sorrowful finale. If there’s a parallel between Quince and Shakespeare, it’s because Shakespeare understands the Romantic Comedy formula, but Quince does not.

Though the Pyramus-Thisbe play has a tragic ending, the Mechanicals’ theatrical adaptation is absurd. The audience can only laugh at the Mechanicals since they act so horribly and their poetry is so absurd. In other words, any sad effect is dissipated via laughing.

In Elizabethan theatre, the play-within-the-play was fairly prevalent. Shakespeare utilised “The Mechanicals”  The Taming of the Shrew, I n Hamlet, and  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  In Bartholomew Fair, Ben Jonson used it, and John Webster used it in The Duchess of Malfi.

It was utilised by playwrights to make comments about the main action and theatre culture. The most essential concepts of the main play were highlighted in a play-within-the-play. The lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are not contentedly in love for the most of the play. They are either really quarrelling or on the edge of doing so. Shakespeare has all the appropriate couples unexpectedly and pleasantly in love by having his fairies employ magic.

The play of the Mechanicals is both comparable and unlike to this. Pyramus and Thisbe are in love and really want to marry, however their families are feuding and refuse to let it. At the end of the day, death separates them permanently. The plot is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, which some commentators believe Shakespeare mocked in the Mechanicals’ production. The more plausible argument is that the Mechanicals’ “regretful comedy” dramatises the terrible conclusion of a parental prohibition against love, which might be how the Lysander-Hermia narrative ended, while humour, lamentable or not, fits in with the marriage ceremony. The play-within-the-play was frequently employed by Elizabethan dramatists to mock features of theatre culture. The following are some of Shakespeare’s satirical targets in the Pyramus-Thisbe play:

Bad plays and playwrights: The Pyramus-Thisbe play’s script is incredibly short; it’s ad hoc, as if made up on the spot; tragedy and comedy are mixed together; there’s a lot of action but little character development; and the poetry is bad. The playwright wishes to demonstrate his classical education, yet his screenplay demonstrates his lack of familiarity with ancient literature. His command of the English language is equally amusing; he believes the viewer will be confused by the dramatic devices, so he includes detailed comic interpretations: the lantern represents the homed moon, Snout represents the wall, and the lion presents himself in a long speech, saying the ladies need not be afraid of him.

Bad actors: The Mechanicals are bad performers because they mispronounce phrases, they would repeat the lines if they believe the viewer has missed them at first, deliver lines unthinkably out of anxiousness (particularly in the Prologue), and chat with the audience.

Undisciplined spectators: The performers are irritated by the audience’s loud comments. A conversation between the audience and the actors begins. Theseus watches for the most of the performance, but begins to leave before it concludes. The actors, anxious to maintain their crowd, suggest that rather than the Epilogue, they do a dancing (Bergomask). All of this was based on real-life events in theatres.

In an old black and white version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the rudeness of the Athenian elites was highlighted. The Mechanicals exit the stage to make room for the Bergomask. The aristocracy leave the chamber while they change. The Mechanicals come from the Green Room (actors’ dressing room) with glee, only to be greeted by the backs of their audience. Their expressions deteriorate. They depart the stage from the opposite end.

The aristocracy and fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream have much more in similarity than with the Mechanicals. Although they are mortals, while fairies are not, their social leaders are monarchs (Duke Theseus, King Oberon). Oberon, in instance, informs us how Titania is almost in romance with Theseus, demonstrating that the aristocracy and the fairies have social interactions. The Mechanicals, on the other hand, are a distinct group. For pragmatic purposes, the majority of viewers would have defined with them; Bottom was a nice part for Kempe); for professional purposes, he satirises the worst about Theatre culture through them; and for comic purposes, their language, ignorance of new learning, and innocence generate much of the comic uncertainty.


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