The imagery of the moon

The governing imagery of the play Midsummer night’s dream is the moon. Everything revolves around the moon, it is mentioned 52 times in the whole script, as either moon or moonlight. The many references to it are to convince the audience that it is night-time and to create a dreamy atmosphere. During Shakespeare’s time the only light sources were candle-light or the sun, so they had to create night out of day, so they masked the stage it in mystical and whimsical acting and décor as well as a million references to the moon.

The moon is a big part of almost every characters dialogue.  Theseus and Hippolyta professing their love “And then the moon, like to a silver bow New-bent in heaven,” (Hippolyta 1.1), Egeus accusing Lysander of visiting his daughter “Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung, With feigning voice verses of feigning love,” (1.1), The fairies, Titannia, Oberon, Hermia and even Quince talking about Thisbe meeting her lover my moonlight, and then all of the men in the play squabbling to find out if the moon shines that night or not. Need I go on? The moon is mentioned A LOT. They even have a character in their “playception” (that Jared pointed out on twitter) that’s name is moonshine, that he is the man in the moon.

The moon presides over dreams and lovers, which is the sole aspect of this play, because it is literally a dream about lovers. And many times throughout this play they all but swear by the moon when they are in love or whenever they talk about something that is meaningful, or not, “Let us here the moon!” (Theseus 5.1) It is even the way that the characters of the play mark the passages of time, by the phases of the moon. Supposedly the people of Shakespeare’s time were romantics, and they understood the more mystical properties of the “watery moon”. The fairies (that were believed to dwell in the wood) have to because they are magical, but the “foolish mortals” can only rely on their romanticism to understand what the heck was going on in their love lives.

~Alexandra Watkins

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