Midsummer Night’s Dream Act1
The interaction of the real world and the “fairy world” in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” represents, allegorically, what a modern reader might call an association between consciousness and the unconscious, or conversely between the intellectual (real world) and the emotional (fairy world). Since the plot of the play is primarily concerned with the havoc which can be wrought by the friction between the intellect and emotions or between conscious and unconscious drives and desires, the fairy characters themselves hint at their psychic origin in Titania’s speech in Act 2 Scene 2 when she says “And this same progeny of evils comes/From our debate, from our dissension:/We are their parents and original.” (Shakespeare).
The speech given by Titania echoes in imagery and diction, the play’s opening dialogue. Present in both Act 1 Scene 1 and Act 2 Scene 2 are images of the moon, of nuptials, of seasons and pale light. Titania’s speech is from one side of the “mirror” so to speak while the dialogue from Theseus and Hippolyta is from the other. The linkage by imagery and diction is meant to imply that the “fairy” forces are, indeed, an underlying motivation for human affairs. Read allegorically as a dichotomy between the conscious/rational and unconscious/irrational impulses of the human psyche, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” functions as an inquiry into the restoration of balance between the two seemingly opposed forces or impulses. The reconciliation of the rational and irrational, the conscious and unconscious is played out largely through the intrigue of human relationships set against the backdrop of a fairy world. The implication is clearly one of elevating the dream and imaginative elements of the human psyche to the same level of acceptability and importance as the rational side of the human psyche: a task which seems to be as sought-after and elusive to Shakespeare’s original Elizabethan audience as it is in our own era.