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Irony in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Transcript of Irony in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Like all Shakespearean comedies, there is an extensive use of irony.
Not only is Theseus and Hippolyta's love ironic, the love between the other couples is as well.
There are three common forms of Irony and this play includes each.
When an individual, Author or character says one thing and means something else.
When an audience perceives something that a character in the literature does not know.
When a situation is opposite to what it was intended to be.
Introduction to Irony
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Theseus was a duke of Athens whereas Hippolyta was an amazon, two opposite characters.
"Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword and won thy love doing thee
States he obtained Hippolyta's love using pain, this is ironic because pain is the opposite of love.
"Turn melancholy forth to funerals. The pale companion is not our pomp" (I.i.15-6)
Here Theseus claims that sadness is only for funerals, though this is dramatic Irony because we know this is a tragic comedy.
Verbal, Dramatic and Situational Irony
Although Egeus was not a lover, his actions were ironic because he favored Demetrius more than his own daughter.
There is also dramatic irony formed after the fairies get involved with the lovers.
Shakespeare uses irony when describing the lovers through their dialogue.
"I give him curses, yet he gives me love" (I.i.201)
"The more I hate him, the more he follows me around" (I.i.203)
"A sweet Athenian lady is in love with a disdainful youth. Anoint his eyes. But do it when the thing he espires may be the lady. Thou shalt know the man be he Athenian garments he hath on" (II.ii.268-72)
The Oberon's flower is also a ironic symbol for it has bad intentions in this play though it created positive effects.
"Fear not, my lord. Your servant shall do so!" (II..ii.276)
Dramatic irony since audience know Puck is a mischievous character.
"Nay, Lysander. For my sake, my dear, lie further off yet. Do not lie so near" (I.ii.29-50)
"Weed of Athens he doth wear. This is he, my master said, despised the Athenian maid. And here the maiden sleeping sound on the dank dirty ground, pretty soul; she durst not lie near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy" (II/ii.77-83
"Methought a serpent ate my heart away, and you sat smiling at his cruel prey" (II.ii.156-7)
"O spite! O Hell! I see you all are bent to set against me for your merriment" (II.ii.148-9)
Helena's goal was to be loved, though once she was she was offended.
"You speak not as you think, it cannot be true" (III.ii.196)
The Irony Continues
"What hast thou done? Thou hast mistaken quite and laid the love juice on some true-love's sight. Of thy misprision most perforce ensue some true-love turned, and not a false turned true" (III.ii.90-3)
Verbal and Situational Irony
Of all the irony, there is a vast amount of verbal with the craftsmen which added character and charisma to them.
"You were best to call them
, man by man, according to the script" (I.ii.2-3)
Bottom means to say "individually".
"But I will
my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove." (I.ii.78-80)
Here, "moderate" should have been said.
"Ill met by
, proud Titania" (II.i.62)
Although not spoken by a craftsmen, this is ironic since lovers meeting by moonlight is romantic.
"And he himself must speak through, saying thus- or to the same
- 'ladies' or 'fair ladies'." (III.i.37-9)
Bottom means to say "something to the same effect".
Pyramus and Thisbe
"No, my noble lord. It is not for you. I have heard it over, and it is nothing in the world" (V.i.82-3)
This situation was ironic since Philostrate was Theseus's Master of the Revels, therefore he should have trusted his word regarding the play.
"I, Snout by name, present a
; and one such a wall as I would have you think that had in it a crannied hole or chink, through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe, did whisper often, very secretly." (V.i.165-9)
Since Snout plays a wall it is rather awkward and ironic-though funny-that he spoke.
"Think what thou wilt, I am thy lovers grace and like
, am trusty still" (V.i.108-9)
Bottom intends to say Leander, who loved Hero.
"And I, like
, till the fates me kill" (V.i.210)
Here Thisbe refers to Helen of Troy when describing her trust in Pyramus, though Helen was known for being unfaithful to her husband.
Shafalus to Procrus
was so true" (V.i.211)
Shafalus to Procrus
, I to you" (V.i.212)
Both lovers mean to say Cephalus and Procris, two steadfast lovers in Greek Mythology.
In conclusion, Irony was a necessary literary device to use in this play.
Each form of irony was present; verbal, situational and dramatic.
Character, Conflict and Comedy
The character development was evident through the craftsmen, the conflict with the fairies messing with the Athenians love and the comedy simply through how opposite everything perceived by the audience was said and done.
The irony in this play developed character, conflict and comedy.