A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Dreams, Illusion and Doubling

Lesson rationale

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare explores and reflects upon Elizabethan debates around the nature of dreams. The audience is afforded the opportunity to witness the transgressive behaviour of the unconscious mind, in contrast to more socially acceptable behaviour, through the themes of marriage and magic.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • What were Elizabethan attitudes to dreams and visions?
  • How do the structure, characters and themes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream reflect this debate?
  • How does Shakespeare use Ovid’s story of Pyramus and Thisbe in the play?