Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by William Shakespearethat can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the major themes in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by Shakespeare in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “A Midsummer Night's Dream” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Role of Magic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
One of the important elements of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the contrast that is established between the “real" world and a world inhabited by fairies, sprites, and other magical beings and forces. In this essay on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you should explore both the divide and the overlap between these two distinct realms and the appearances versus reality of the world these characters inhabit in the play. In doing so, the function of the magical world as a contrast to the “real" world is identified and analyzed. For this argumentative essay on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the writer argues that the primary function of this magical world is to reinforce the idea that love—which is, after all, the subject of the play—is subject to forces that are often beyond the capacity of humans to understand them.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Function of Dreams in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
As the title of Shakespeare’s play alludes, dreams are an important element of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The characters often question whether they are in the dream world or in the waking world, and tend to have difficulty distinguishing between the two. Using a psychoanalytic approach to interpreting the role that dreams play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the writer should examine the various functions of dreams and the psychological value that they have for the characters. It should be argued that dreams serve at least one significant function, namely, that dreams permit the enactment of fantasies that are impossible or difficult to fulfill in real life. This should be a definite argumentative essay with at least one interpretation of the function of dreams in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Frame Narrative of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the reader notices that there is a play within the larger framework (click here for detailed article on this) of the primary play. Much like the functions that the fairy world and dreams play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the function of the secondary play is to establish a contrast and point of comparison between the “real" world and an imagined one. Considered alongside these other comparative and symbolic worlds, the second play constitutes part of a frame narrative that underscores the point that Shakespeare wishes to make about the divide that exists between desire and reality in A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is not merely a device for entertainment, though it does serve that function as well.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Character Analysis in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Hermia
Early in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the reader learns that Hermia is being compelled to marry Demetrius, whom she does not love. Hermia protests the marriage proposal that is being forced upon her, and in a bold and compelling speech, she questions what will happen to her if she defies the order to marry the man who has not captured her heart. Examining this speech and other actions, the writer intends to deveop an argument about Hermia as a feminist prototype. Although other female characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dreamseem to be more important to the play’s development, Hermia represents an interesting character who expands the possibilities of women as agents of and advocates for their own destiny.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5: The Importance of Comic Relief in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Although A Midsummer Night’s Dream has many serious elements and embarks upon an exploration and treatment of some of the most serious of life’s experiences and themes, there is a comic element that is evident and which keeps the reader engaged and this is classified as a comedy. In this essay, the reader analyzes the character of Nick Bottom and explores the function that he plays in injecting comic relief into an otherwise serious play.
For further ideas and insights about these and other themes and meanings in A Midsummer Night's Dream, browse the following articles:
The Significance of the Play Within a Play Structure of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” • A Midsummer Night’s Dream:Analysis of Lines 5-20 of the Epilogue • The Symbol of the Moon in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by Shakespeare • The Role of Disguises in As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream • Appearances versus Reality in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night • The Friendships of Women in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by Shakespeare • The Significance of the Philomel Reference in “Midsummer Night's Dream” •
This list of important quotations from “A Midsummer Night's Dream” will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“I do entreat your grace to pardon me. I know not by what power I am made bold…. But I beseech your grace that I may know the worst that may befall me… if I refuse to marry Demetrius." (I.i.60-61, 64-66)
“Are you sure that we are awake? It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream." (IV.i.,200-202)
“Why then, we are awake. Let’s follow him and by the way let us recount our dreams." (IV.i.208-209)
“The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was." (IV.i.220-224)
“How happy some o’er other some can be!" (I.i.232)
“My Oberon, what visions I have seen! Methought I was enamored of an ass…. How came these things to pass?" (IV.i.76-77,80)
“Things growing are not ripe until their season." (II.ii.124)
“[E]arthlier happy is the rose distilled Than that which withering on the virgin thorn, Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness." (I.i.78-80)
“How can these things in me seem scorn to you, bearing the badge of faith to prove them true?" (III.ii.128-129)
“You do advance your cunning more and more. When truth kills truth, O devilish holy fray!" (III.ii. 130-131)
Source: Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. New York: Washington Square Press, 1993.
Act I, Scene 1
1. How does the exposition in Act I, Scene i seem to support Lysander’s statement that, “The course of true love never did run smooth?”
2. Helena tells Hermia, “My ear should catch your voice; my eye your eye….” Considering Hermia’s present relationship and Helena’s past relationship with Demetrius, explain how this exemplifies Shakespeare’s use of the first part of Plautus’ and Terence’s three-part method of writing comedic plays.
3. How does Egeus’ statement (referring to Hermia), “And she is mine, and all my right of her I do estate unto Demetrius,” demonstrate that Shakespeare is using this character to fulfill the role of the opposing father, which is a typical character in the New Comedy of Plautus and Terence?
Act I, Scene 2
1. Quince admonishes Bottom that if he were to have the part of the lion and roar too loudly, he “…would frighten the Duchess and the ladies that they would shriek….” What does this tell us about the Elizabethan view of women? Validate your opinion with clues from the text.
2. In talking about the beard to go with his costume, Bottom says, “…either your straw-color beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-color beard, your perfit yellow.” In your opinion, and taking hints from his conversations with Quince, just how much experience has Bottom had with acting?
3. The name of the play is “The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.” Considering that Bottom has already presented himself as something of a clown, why do you think it appropriate he play the lead in a play with this title?
Act II, Scene 1
1. How does Oberon’s instructing Puck to anoint the eye of the youth in “Athenian garments” allow Shakespeare to introduce complications to the situation that is opposite of the “right” one?
2. Considering they are the king and queen of the fairies, explain in your own words why Titania has “… forsworn his [Oberon’s] bed and company.”
3. “I love thee not; therefore pursue me not,” demands Demetrius of Helena, but she will not desist. How can you explain her actions and Demetrius’ reactions in view of Plautus’ and Terence’s plot structure for love comedies?
Act II, Scene 2
1. As Oberon, king of the fairies, carefully present an argument to your wife and queen, Titania, explaining why her past affairs (and yours) did not threaten your marriage but her insistence on keeping this changeling boy rather than conceding to your demands is a threat.
2. Hermia, who is defying Athenian law and facing death or banishment to a nunnery in order to marry the man she loves rather than the man her father chose as her husband, is concerned when Lysander wants to sleep with her in the wood on their way to his aunt’s house to be married. She begs him, “Do not lie so near.” How may her fears concerning her pristine reputation as a maid (unmarried young woman) be justified at this point in the play?
3. Helena is dumbfounded and hurt when she awakens Lysander in the wood and he professes his love for her, “Yet Hermia still loves you [Lysander].” Carefully, decide why she is dumbfounded and hurt that he would mock her so. Explain this, step by step, to the newly-besotted Lysander....
(The entire section is 1398 words.)