A Midsummer Night's Dream


William Shakespeare

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A Midsummer Night's Dream Themes

Read our modern English translation.
Themes and Colors
Love Theme Icon
Plays Within Plays Theme Icon
Dreams Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
The Supernatural Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Midsummer Night's Dream, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play about love. All of its action—from the escapades of Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena in the forest, to the argument between Oberon and Titania, to the play about two lovelorn youths that Bottom and his friends perform at Duke Theseus's marriage to Hippolyta—are motivated by love. But A Midsummer Night's Dream is not a romance, in which the audience gets caught up in a…

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Plays Within Plays

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play containing other plays. The most obvious example is the laborers' performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, and their inept production serves three important functions in the larger structure of the larger play. First, the laborer's mistakes and misunderstandings introduce a strand of farce to the comedy of the larger play. Second, it allows Shakespeare to comment on the nature of art and theater, primarily through the laborer's own…

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After their surreal night of magic and mayhem in the forest, both the lovers and Bottom describe what happened to them as a "dream." They use the word "dream" to describe their experiences, because they wouldn't otherwise be able to understand the bizarre and irrational things that they remember happening to them in the forest. By calling their experiences dreams, Bottom and the lovers allow those experiences to exist as they are, without need for…

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Men and Women

The relationship between men and women echoes across both the mortal and fairy worlds of A Midsummer Night's Dream. More specifically, both the fairy and mortal plots in the play deal with an attempt by male authority figures to control women. Though Theseus and Hippolyta appear to share a healthy loving relationship, it is a love built upon a man asserting power over a woman: Theseus won Hippolyta's love by defeating her in battle…

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The Supernatural

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare has created a fantastical world of fairies and magic. And this world is not just a pretty backdrop for the events of the play. The fairies and their magic are the engine of the plot: Oberon's love juice sets the plot in motion, Puck's mistakes applying the juice and his mischievous transformation of Bottom's head into an ass's head complicates it, and Puck's tricks and illusions to keep…

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