The importance of literary works to the contemporary human society

cannot be gainsaid as far as enhancing the knowledge of the society is
concerned. Indeed, literary works have had numerous uses in the society
including entertainment, education and even inspiration of new ideas.
History shows that literary works, including works of art, poems and
even fictional stories have been responsible for quite a number of
fundamental social changes in varied societies and countries. This not
only underlines the popularity of these literary works, but also that of
their authors or creators. While different authors, playwrights, poets
and artists have varying degrees of popularity from their works, none
can arguably outdo Shakespeare in terms of popularity, both in his time
and in the years that followed. Indeed, a large number of his works
remain relevant and applicable in the contemporary human society, in
spite of the fact that they were written centuries ago. This is the case
for “A Midsummer Night Dream”, a play thought to have been written
between 1590 and 1596. The play shows the events that surround the
married between Hippolyta and the Duke of Athens, Theseus (Montrose 61).
Included in the events are the adventures pertaining to four young
Athenian lovers, as well as a groups of six inexperienced actors, who
are manipulated and under the control of the fairies inhabiting the
forest which makes up the setting for the larger part of the play.
Indeed, the play makes up one of the most popular stage works for
Shakespeare and has been performed widely across the globe. While there
may be differing opinions as to the nature of the play, it is evident
that the play remains a classic comedy.
First, the play, like a large number of comedies written at this period
opens with discussions pertaining to love and marriage. Indeed, Hermia
has declined to get married to Demetrius, a man chosen by Egeus her
father. This is against the ancient Athenian law that underlines the
requirement that a daughter has to get married to a man or rather a
suitor selected by her father, a deviance of which would attract a death
penalty (Croce 367). On the other hand, she could choose the path of
lifelong chastity as a reward for worshiping Diana. Unfortunately,
Hermia is uncomfortable with this option as well, in which case she
elopes with her fiancée named Lysander, with whom she runs away. The
classic nature of the story is underlined by its extensive exploration
of the theme of love, as well as the struggle between two young lovers
and the draconian laws that they are required to follow by their elders
(Croce 367).
In addition, the overlap between situational and dramatic irony would
make the play a classic comedy. Dramatic irony revolves around the
manner in which the audience perceives the circumstances of the four
lovers incorporated in the play. First, both Lysander and Demetrius
suddenly stop being in love with Hermia and instead fall in love with
Helena. Both of them are unaware of the reason for this although the
audience is well aware (Montrose 65). On the same note, dramatic irony
may be seen in the instance where Helena responds scornfully to the
advances of the two. Indeed, she believes that not only are the two men
playing a plank on her but also that Hermia knows and is part of that
joke. She concludes that Lysander’s advances are scornful to her when
she states “Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born / When at your
hands did I deserve this scorn?” (II.ii.125-126). This is the same
belief that she that she holds pertaining to the advances of Demetrius
as shown by her statement “O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent / To
set against me for your merriment” (III.ii.147-148). Her statement “Lo,
she is one of this confederacy!” (195) underlines her belief that Hermia
is part of this joke. Unfortunately, she is unaware that the two are
sincere in their love as they have been enchanted using a love portion.
The dramatic irony is mixed with situational irony as it is purely
accidental that the two men stop their pursuit of Hermia and instead
start pursuing Helena. On the same note, Puck thinks that Lysander is
Demetrius, which makes Lysander fall in love and start pursuing Helena
as she is seen just as Lysander is waking up. At that time, Oberon
intentionally places the love portion on the eyes of Demetrius, which
makes the two men start their pursuit of Helena. Indeed, the
situatiobnal irony emanating from Puck’s mistake results in arguments
between the characters, as well as a number of humorous lines.
In conclusion, Shakespeare comes as one of the most popular playwrights
both in his times and in the contemporary human society. This may be
seen in the case of “A midsummer Night Dream” a play written
centuries ago but whose themes are applicable in the modern times. His
exploration of the theme of love and marriage makes it a classic. In
addition, it has situational and dramatic irony overlapping each other,
with tidbits of humor.
Works cited
Montrose, Louis. “The Imperial Votaress”. A Shakespeare Reader: Sources
and Criticism. Eds. Richard Danson Brown and David Johnson. London:
Macmillan Press, Ltd, 2000. 60–71
Croce, Benedetto. “Comedy of Love”. A Midsummer Night`s Dream. Eds.
Judith M. Kennedy and Richard F. Kennedy. London: Athlone Press, 1999.
386–8.
Shakespeare, William (1979). Harold F. Brooks, ed. The Arden Shakespeare
“A Midsummer Nights Dream”. Methuen & Co. Ltd.
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