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A Midsummer Night’s Dream Essay: The Identity of Characters

Identity of Characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Where Shakespeare’s tragedies will tell the story, chiefly, of a single principal character, this is rarely the case with his comedies. The comedies are more social and deal with groups of characters. In the case of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the principal groups are, at first, introduced severally. Though, one group may interact with another (as when Puck anoints Lysander’s eyes, or Titania is in love with Bottom) they retain separate identities.

While each of the groups is separate, there are symmetries which appear among them: Theseus and Oberon (and, in a way, Bottom) are rulers and figures of authority in their proper spheres. Hippolyta and Titania are consorts who defy their lords, but ultimately submit to their lordship. Often one pair is to be contrasted with another: the well-matched lovers Lysander and Hermia contrast with the ill-matched Demetrius and Helena (they resemble Pyramus and Thisbe). Even Puck has his human counterpart in Philostrate. The serious strife of the young nobles contrasts with the good fellowship of the mechanicals while it resembles the contention of the fairy rulers. Complete depiction of a complex character (as in Hamlet) is not attempted here, and would be wholly out of place. This is not a fault but reflects the different concern here of the playwright. But we do find very economical portrayal of strong and vivid characters, in Puck, Bottom, Oberon, Titania, Theseus, Helena and Hermia. Of these, the first two stand out as among the greatest of Shakespeare’s creations.

Puck first appears at the start of Act 2, and is rarely off the stage from this point. He is essential to the narrative: he carries out his master’s orders obe…

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…ically as anything in the tragedies, his anti-greeting (“Ill met by moonlight…”) almost a snarl. But his concern for the lovers, and his pity for the ridiculous dotage of Titania show how he is capable of gentler feeling. Theseus’ obvious sympathy for Hermia in 1.1, has a parallel in his concern not to belittle the efforts of the mechanicals to celebrate his wedding: “The best in this kind are but shadows, and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them”. His prose speaking here might indicate a concern that the workmen should understand him, to lessen their sense of awe. In Theseus, Shakespeare brings dignity and humanity to the familiar mythical hero; in Oberon, he embodies the most benign qualities of Elizabethan woodland sprites in a fairy king more vivid, concrete and passionate than any original of Oberon on whom he may have based his depiction.

Esther`s Suicide Attempts in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

Esther`s Suicide Attempts in The Bell Jar

One of the main reasons why Esther tried to commit suicide was the way she perceived her mother’s actions, and the fact that she hates her mother:

`”I hate her”, I said, and waited for the blow to fall.`

she obviously believes that hating her mother is wrong, as she expected the doctor to react negatively to her comment.

Throughout the novel, her mother has contributed to Esther`s problems. From Esther`s point of view, consequences of her mother’s actions have lead to further problems for her. It was her mother who denied Esther the right to go to her father’s funeral:

`My mother hadn’t let us come to his funeral because we were only children then, and he had died in hospital, so the graveyard and even his death seemed unreal to me.`

The fact that Esther couldn’t really accept her father’s death contributed to career problems: she had no idea of what to do with her life, she `thought that if my father hadn’t died he would have taught me….`

Before visiting New York and getting thrown into the real world Esther had been very successful academically:

`I had already taken a course in botany and done very well. I never answered one test question wrong all year.`

Because of her perfectionist attitude, Esther was surprised to hear herself say that she didn’t know what her career plans were:

`Usually I had these plans on the tip of my tongue.

“I don’t really know”, I heard myself say. I felt a deep shock, hearing myself say that, because the minute I said it, I knew it was true.`

She claims that she has `always wanted to learn German` although `the very sight of those dense, black, barbed-wire letters made my mind shut like a clam`. Esther associates the language with her `German-speaking father`, who `cane from some manic-depressive hamlet in the black heart of Prussia’. I think that Esther`s stunt in progress is directly linked to the death of her father, and the little that she knows about him, and that a major factor contributing to her eventual suicide attempt is the fact that she used to be the best and no longer can be.

Esther also associates the death of her father with her happiness:

`I was only purely happy until I was nine years old. After that – in spite of the girl scouts and piano lessons.

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