Lunatics, Lovers and Poets
Shakespeare uses the exchange between Theseus and Hippolyta in the beginning of Act V to comment on the theater, and the creative process of playwrights, as a whole. Theseus begins by pointing out the falsities in the play-within-a-play, stating that the stories are "more strange than true." (5.1.2) He continues by grouping together lunatics, lovers and poets because of their passion-driven actions, their imaginations, and their hallucinations. He associates madmen with lovers and lunatics because they "are of imagination all compact;" (5.1.8) they are all driven by an overactive imagination. Theseus continues to berate their imaginations, stating that lunatics are so because of their visions of monsters and the devil, lovers because of their blind love, and poets because of their imaginative writing, their writings' connection with heaven, and the way they create fictional stories with a pen. It's interesting to consider Shakespeare's view on writing as one similar to Theseus.