In this essay I will discuss arguments for and against the statement that Act 3 Scene 2 is the ‘pivotal’ scene in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. The events which take place in this scene are somewhat erratic and confusing so I will try to break them down into more manageable sections so they are easier to analyse and therefore make clearer and more concise points to put into my arguments. Act 3 Scene 2 begins directly after Titania falls in love with Bottom ( the ass ).
This is one of the more comedic elements in the play and therefore will set a relaxed and up-beat atmosphere for the next scene ( Act 3 Scene 2 ). Also after this scene I feel there is a lot more order and less confusion as Oberon and Puck sort out Titania and bottom. This places Act 3 Scene 2 at the forefront of the most exciting section of the play but also to emphasise this it is just after the laming effects on Act 3 Scene 1.
The scene begins with Puck telling the audience what he has done in the previous scene. He uses lines such as, “my mistress with a monster is in love,” and ” an ass’s nole I fixed on his head,” and I think Shakespeare has used this to emphasise the comedic elements of the last scene and this then leads in to the hectic confusion on Act 3 Scene 2 and also this increases the tempo of the play. The major event described in this paragraph I think is the pivotal action. This is when Puck mixes up the love potion.
I think that this shapes the rest of the play because without this the lover’s would never have argued and then there wouldn’t have been the dramatic change in the plays tempo so this scene would not have appeared so crucial and ‘pivotal’ to the play as a whole. So therefore without this there would have been no comedic element about the way in which humans acts under the ‘influence’ of love for Shakespeare to show as one of the main differences between the humans and the fairies.
The Fight between Helena and Hermia is also important as is the fight between Lysander and Demetrius. The fights are all centred around love and this coincides with when Puck says, ” … what fools these mortals be… ” and this is also referring to the way humans act when they are in love. This is also showing the audience that the fairies rule over the humans because they do not have these strong emotions and therefore do not act so like lovesick teenagers when they are in love.
The overall effect of such a long and action packed scene will make the audience somewhat confused and so the scene after must be very straight forward and self explanatory so that the audience can get a grasp of the plot through to the finish and therefore giving the audience maximum enjoyment out of the play and this is what I think Shakespeare intended. Also the effect of this scene is positive as the audience will enjoy the comedy and confusion so will be much happier and in a better mood because of it.
The structure of this scene is very important as it is so essential to the rest of the play. Puck acts almost as a narrator in this scene as he summarises the events of the last scene in his opening speech. This provides the audience a much clearer understanding of the play as Puck repeats what ahs happened and I thin this also imposes more emphasis on this section of the play. Puck I think is an essential character as what he does directly determines what happens throughout the rest of the play. He does things such as mixing up the lovers and then fixes it again.
He is also involved in the lovers arguments when he leads off Lysander and Demetrius and then sends them to sleep so Puck is directly associated with every major event in this scene explained in this paragraph in the one above. He is the character which fuels all the important events in this erratic part of the play. This shows the audience that he is an important character and should be watched carefully as he is everywhere doing everything!! His speeches at the end and beginning give the scene a definite shape.
The scene starts and ends with the most influential character in the scene which is puck as explained by the things he does above. The comedic elements are essential to this play as I feel Shakespeare intended it to be a romantic comedy. This comedic elements always feature puck whether it be directly or indirectly. The lovers arguments and the comments about this from the fairies like “what fools these mortals be” gives the play the comedic boost it needs. The lovers arguments show us once again that the fairies are dominant and the humans let their emotions go to far and end up acting childish over love.
There is also moments of near tragedy when the lovers begin to argue and then the arguments escalate then the lovers are almost split apart and the friendship between Helena and Hermia are almost ruined by there strong emotions taking control. The tragedy is avoided by Oberon and Puck stepping in and sorting out the mistake which Puck made earlier. The tone of the play now for a moment is changed from being a laid back funny affair to being a lot more sinister and dark but this isn’t a bad thing as it gives the play a balance of emotional content.
The scene can also be described as being pivotal as it develops the plays major issues of love, authority and order and disorder. Love is the central theme throughout the play and is heavily involved in this scene as the lovers arguments are the central piece of this scene. The love theme is developed when they argue and the true feelings and untrue feeling are involved due to Pucks mistake. Authority is dealt with when the fairies show they can control humans emotions and therefore control the way they act so it is obvious where the real authority lies.
Order and Disorder are shown in two different places. Athens ( the main city in the play ) is shown to be where most of the orderly things happen. The forest however is shown to be a much more mystical place where the fairies control what goes on and normal rules do not apply. The message of the play is also dealt with in this scene which may be the main reason why the scene is described as the pivotal scene. The main message of the play I think is the effects of love on humans.
Shakespeare hints at this directly by using lines such as, “what fools these mortals be,” thus telling the audience that humans are inferior to fairies when it comes to love and also act totally out of character and child-like. Also the line, “what fools these mortals be,” is the most influential line is the whole play. I think this because Shakespeare links it into the play in intricate ways which are hidden in the dialogue of the play. As are many of the stage directions. Shakespeare uses the wood and the myths of the magical events which were supposed to happen in the woods.
He combines this with what the Elizabethans believed happened on midsummers day which was that magic and madness occurs. He uses the ideas that fairies control the wood and humans control the city so that the magic is clearly separated and therefore greatly emphasised. He makes us believe that Puck and Oberon have magical powers because they can control humans emotions with potions and this increases the magical atmosphere. The contrasts in language between the wood and the city are easily noticed as the words used are somewhat different to those used by the humans in the city.
An example of this would be when puck says, ” captain of our fairy band,” and, ” Hit cupids archery,” and this shows that the atmosphere in the wood is mysterious and magic filled. The staging and language which makes the audience believe that this scene is set in the night-time and in a wood is hidden within the text of Shakespeare writing as are many of the stage directions. An example of this would be, “here will I rest till the break of day” and, ” bedabbled with the dew” shows that the play is set at night and is outdoors.
The effect of songs is that there is even more of a sense of mystery and gives it the magical story feel. Puck’s magic fog and leading away the lovers gives the play the feel that in the woods anything is possible and no rules apply in the wood. I will conclude this essay by summing up why I think Act 3 Scene 2 is so pivotal. I think this scene can be given the title of ‘most pivotal scene’ because it contains so much that is crucial to the entire play. This scene covers the central message of the play, the most comedic elements and all the other aspects of why the wood is magical compared to the city.