What I'm really wondering as we come to the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is how we should tie up all the loose ends in the play. As professor Mulready pointed out during class on Friday, the play seems to culminate at the end of act four, but in fact it goes on for another act. When I read act five I was expecting to see some more twists in the story but for some reason I didn’t really see any. When the act begins the three couples are happily married and enjoying their wedding night with some festivities. They look forward to a play, choose one, and watch it. The plot is so simple it’s almost confusing. I mean, what happened to all the conflicts? It’s as if nothing ever happened and they were in love like that from the start.
So here are a few things that confuse me. The couples, although they seem to remember what happened the night that they were affected by fairy magic seem to only remember it as if it was a dream, but they do not dwell on it at all, and this confuses me. With the amount of anguish and anger felt that night with such drama that Hermia claims she “can no further crawl” (3.3, 30), how can Shakespeare not follow up with the girls’ relationship at least or even the couples’ dynamic now that they know they can be turned on one another with the slightest of touches by the fairies? More importantly, how can he not follow up on Titania’s strife with Oberon? I mean, we can excuse the humans from not questioning their situation as they can conceivably be described as mechanistic, but the fairies are the ones with the power here and Titania is one of them. Surely she recognized that she was put under a spell and now yearns for her changeling back?
Really the only answer to these questions of mine, that I can think of, lies within the conversation that Theseus has with Hippolyta at the very beginning of act five. He says that “lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends” (5.1, 4-6). So I wonder, is Shakespeare trying to show us that “love blinds us”? It seems as if love throughout the play has broken down some of the strongest walls, the relationship between father and daughter, and the relationship between friends “warbling of one song” (3.2, 207). In the play within the play it even takes the lovers’ lives. Is he trying to tell us that though we don’t realize it, that it is love not law or the supernatural that rules us all? I wonder.