Analytical Essay for Shakespeare Class
An opponent would disagree that there are any similarities between a tragedy and a comedy, in this case, “Macbeth” and “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”. He would point out to the simplicity of the arguments in finding any similarities between the characters or the themes in the story. The person would argue against the emotional engagement of the characters, which leads them to make regrettable decisions. He would also argue about the need of having different characters, pointing out the necessity of presenting weaknesses in the characters’ behavior. I had noted how the plays are similar in that the characters in the “Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “Macbeth are flawed”. Finding any similarities between comedies and tragedies can be a daunting and challenging task. However, a closer observation reveals the desperation of the characters in achieving their ambition, friendship and loyalty between different characters, a central problem that the characters have to solve, and the typical presence of the supernatural, which helps in developing the themes as well as developing the characters in different levels.
Some of the characters in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “Macbeth” are ambitious in achieving their dreams. However, they display their ambition in different ways. In “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, Oberon, the king of the fairies, is determined to have the Indian boy who his queen, Titania, loves and wants to adopt. His ambition causes him to cast a spell on his wife. This causes the queen to give in to the demands of the king, and it leads to her humiliation and embarrassment as she ends up falling in love with a donkey. The king only ceases his ambition once he has what he desires. Helena is ambitious in her quest to secure the love of Demetrius, such that she is willing to follow him everywhere and betray her friend’s trust. She is not concerned about lowering her dignity, or what other people will think about her, and she ends up following him to the forest. She tells Demetrius, “The more you beat me, I will fawn on you: use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me, neglect me, lose me; only give me leave…and yet a place of high respect with me, than to be used as you use your dog?” These words reflect the desperation that Helena has for Demetrius. Demetrius tells her constantly that he does not love her, but the determination she has to get his love does not let her recognize the humiliation that she is undergoing.
Hermia and Lysander are determined to marry, to the extent that they are willing to suffer for their love. This determination causes Hermia to disobey her father, and she agrees to elope. Hermia is not afraid of defending herself or Lysander before the duke, and by doing this, she shows her rebellious nature, since she dares to defy her father. Lysander displays his determination from the beginning when he is wooing Hermia. When Egeus presents his case against Lysander before the duke, he tells the duke of all the things that Lysander has done in an attempt to win his daughter. Egeus tells the duke how Lysander has wooed his daughter with his words, gifts, and actions. Lysander declares his love for Hermia with his poems and the songs he sings for her at night. He has also given her love tokens and gifts such as bracelets, rings, sweetmeats, and others. Egeus shows his determination in ensuring that his daughter remains loyal and obedient to him. He is willing to do anything, including seeing her daughter killed, just so that he can ensure that he has fulfilled the promise he had made to Demetrius. This decision causes him to present his case before the duke. He even tells the duke to give him the permission he needs so that he “may dispose of her”. This is a desperate and drastic action, coming from a father.
In “Macbeth”, different characters also portray their ambitious nature. They are willing to do all they can to ensure that they fulfill their desires and objectives. They do not worry about the consequences, once they have set their goals on something. Macbeth is an excellent, honest and decent man in the beginning, but his ambitions make him change his character. He encounters the three witches, who tell him that he will be the king of Scotland. The witches do not tell him how this will happen, or whether he will have to play a role to fulfill this prophecy. His thoughts turn to murder, without the suggestion of anyone, even his wife. He ends up killing the king as he is sleeping, and he kills the guards, as well. His action of killing the king makes him more willing and able to kill other ‘lesser’ people. In the course of the play, he kills other people who he believes are a hindrance to accomplish his goals.
Lady Macbeth reveals her ambitious nature when her husband informs her of the prophecy. She taunts her husband and encourages him to kill the king. She is more ambitious than anyone else is, in ensuring that her husband becomes king. She mocks her husband, telling him that he does not have what it takes to be king. She is so ambitious, that she wills to put aside her sexuality and forget her femininity, which she perceives as a hindrance to the fulfillment of her desires and realization of her dreams. She says, “Unsex me here…stop up the access and passage to remorse, that no compunctious visitings of nature shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between the effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts, and take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers”
Both plays make use of the supernatural, which enhances plot and character development. In “Macbeth”, the three witches are the cause of the tragic events in the story. Macbeth starts having murderous thoughts after his encounter with the three witches, who reveal some prophesies to him. The witches inform Macbeth that he will be the thane of Cawdor and the king of Scotland. When he becomes the thane, Macbeth starts longing for his time to be king. Macbeth does not see any other way of becoming the king, other than for him to kill the king. This is despite the fact that he becomes the thane of Cawdor, without having to kill anyone. The witches also reveal to him that he should be careful of Macduff, and because of this, Macbeth ends up killing Macduff’s family, since he cannot kill Macduff, who has since fled. The witches prophesy that Macbeth will not die in the hands of one born of woman. This changes Macbeth’s character, and he becomes more fearless, since he understands that this means that no person can kill him since all people are born of women. It is because of these prophecies that Macbeth turns from a loyal character, who is willing to defend the king against anyone, to one who ends up murdering the king and several other people. Lady Macbeth shows the people’s beliefs in the supernatural when she invokes the spirits to take away her sexuality.
The fairies and the elves are the supernatural beings in the Midsummer’s Night Dream, and there is a lot of magic in the play. Puck, one of the elves, and the king’s messenger, controls and directs the events of the play through his actions. His actions cause Lysander and Demetrius to chase after Helena, causing more problems for Helena and causing Hermia to worry. Oberon and Titania enhance the plot and character development. They add the elements of humor, and they show the control that the supernatural have on those who are living. Oberon changes bottom’s head to that of a donkey and influences the events that happen to the four lovers in the forest.
In both stories, there are elements of loyal friendship and betrayal between different people. As people interact, they form friendships, which determine the course of their lives. In Macbeth, Macduff acts as the loyal friend of the loyal family. He is the thane of Fife, and one of the soldiers. He is grieved by the death of the king, and he shows genuine sadness. His loyalty does not end with the death of King Duncan, but he continues helping the king’s son and eventually leads him to the throne. He moves to England, where Malcolm has run to, and he helps him fight for Scotland. He assures Malcolm that he is the right person to lead Scotland, despite the claims that Malcolm makes concerning his weaknesses. He shows Malcolm that he is not willing to take the throne from him regardless of anything. He avenges the death of the king and his family when he kills Macbeth and delivers his head to Malcolm.
In the beginning, Macbeth is presented as a loyal soldier, who is wounded as he defends England. His acts of bravery and loyalty are clear, and praised by the king, who ends up rewarding him by announcing him the thane of Cawdor. This changes when desire and ambition gets hold of him. Banquo is a contrast of Macbeth, who retains his loyalty to his country. He receives his prophecy the same time as Macbeth. He has more reasons to think of how he will conquer the throne, seeing that the witches prophecy that his sons will be heirs to the throne. Just like other people, he has the desire to succeed, and he is an ambitious man. However, he is humble and intelligent, and he uses this intelligent to make the right decisions. He had more reason to kill Macbeth once he became king, because Macbeth is a hindrance to his sons becoming kings. However, he does not do this, deciding that fate will take its course. The thane of Cawdor is a traitor, who betrays King Duncan and joins Norway in fighting against Scotland. Macbeth betrays King Duncan when he kills him after becoming the thane of Cawdor.
Helena and Hermia are friends in a midsummer’s night dream. Helena is frustrated because Demetrius does not recognize her anymore and he is in love with her friend. The two friends do not let the men in their lives control or undermine their friendship. When Hermia and Lysander are telling Helena their plans to leave Athens, and elope, Hermia recounts the times they have shared together with Helena as friends. She tells Helena, “and in the wood, where often you and I upon faint primrose-beds were wont lie, emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet…farewell, sweet playfellow: pray thou for us; and good luck grant thee they Demetrius!” Although Helena is jealous of her friend Hermia, she does not let this jealousy get out of control. She does not take advantage of the situation created by Puck when he uses magic to blind Lysander into seeing Hermia. Helena recognizes the love that Hermia and Lysander share. When Lysander declares his love for her, she tells him, “These vows are Hermia’s: will you give her o’er? Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh: your vows to her and me, put in two scales, will even weigh, and both as light as tales.”
The comedy and the tragedy are similar because they both have a central problem that has to be solved. The characters in the stories are involved in solving these problems, and this gives them an opportunity to develop. There are several problems in Macbeth. Macbeth is concerned about how he will become a king. His decisions create more problems, as he becomes tyrannical, and the other characters have to find ways of ending this tyranny. Malcolm and Macduff flee to England, where they re-strategize, and they ask for support of the English king in fighting for Scotland. They are able to solve the problem that they, and the rest of Scotland has, by engaging Macbeth in battle and killing him. This problem brings out the courageous nature of Malcolm, and it enhances the loyalty in Macduff. It also shows the extent to which Macduff has become radical in his approach. He has become more confident thinking that he cannot die in the hands of another man.
The central problem in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” concerns love. It involves the love of Hermia and Lysander, and Demetrius and Helena. Demetrius does not appreciate the love that Helena has for him, and this is the main problem. It causes Helena to betray her friend when she tells Demetrius that Hermia and Lysander have fled to the woods, where they plan to go and elope. The problem causes Helena to doubt that she is capable of being loved, and she is skeptical when the men declare their love for her. Had Demetrius accepted Helena’s love, then Hermia and Lysander would not have experienced any problems in expressing their love for each other. Hermia’s father would not have taken her before the duke, and Hermia and Lysander would not have run away to the forest. The use of magic by the fairies helps to resolve this love. They make Demetrius realize the love that Helena has for her, he declares his love for her, and this solves the problem in the story.
Tragedies and comedies are remarkably different, in the way the characters and themes develop. While one genre creates sad situations that are often full of bloodshed and death, the other creates happy and joyous situations, and they end happily. “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “Macbeth” are two plays in different genres, one being a comedy and the other a tragedy. There are many differences between them, but the two plays also share some similarities, especially in the character development. The stories describe the ambitious nature of some of the characters, and the lengths they are willing to go to achieve their desires regardless of the consequences. The stories reveal the friendship that can exist between different characters, and how this friendship enhances loyalty. The stories also reveal the effects of the supernatural realm on the natural world. There is a central problem in both plays, and the characters try to resolve this problem during the course of the plays