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Lindsey Lundmark
Smit
12 AP
3 November 2014
Making Connections:
A Close Reading of William Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream through a
Psychoanalytical Perspective

A Midsummer Nights Dream presents various situations in which reality versus illusion
comes into play regarding the relationships between the four lovers. In the play, the four main
characters (Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, and Helena) struggle with finding true love amongst
one another. Hermias father wants her to marry Demetrius and the duke of Athens, Theseus,
says she must obey her father or become a nun. Oberon, the fairy king, sees the trouble so he
sends his servant fairy, Robin Goodfellow (also known as Puck), to cast a spell. Oberon tells
Puck he cast the spell of the wrong person. Eventually, Lysander ends up with Hermia while
Demetrius ends up with Helena; however, throughout this big ordeal anxiety runs high. (a lot of
the summary has been deleted)
Through a psychoanalytical perspective, A Midsummer Nights Dream can be used to
reflect the troubles of William Shakespeares personal life. In Act 1, Lysander states The course
of true love never did run smooth (Shakespeare 136). Not only do the characters from this play
know about the difficulty of love, but so does Shakespeare which might be why he incorporated
this iconic line. When Shakespeare was just eighteen years old, he felt he had no choice but to
marry Anne Hathaway, who was twenty-six, because she was pregnant with their first child.

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They ended up having three children together before he left them to live in London. While he
was in London, he had many mistresses. His sonnets are used as evidence to prove that he got
around and that he cheated on Anne Hathaway almost as if they were never married to begin
with. His sonnets also can be read into to prove his possible bisexuality as some of them are
addressed to the Fair Lord, who is speculated to be a young man. While very little of this can
be proven for sure, it serves as a basis for the argument of Shakespeares troubled personal life.
Despite the fact that Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, and Helena all go through much more
strenuous events involving love, perhaps Shakespeare modeled these events after his own. His
confused view of true love helped lead to the extreme dramatization of his relationships to serve
as the foundation for the messed up love-square he created in A Midsummer Nights Dream.
Another incident where psychoanalysis comes into play due to anxiety is when Hermia
awakes from a dream. Methought a serpent ate my heart away,/And you sat smiling at his cruel
prey (156-157). Hermia was in a state of distress as she thought she was being attacked by a
snake while Lysander watched on and did not do anything to help. This indicates that she may
have a serious fear of men in general or being betrayed by one. Throughout the play, Hermia
goes from the extremes of having both Lysander and Demetrius in love with her to having
neither of them wanting anything to do with her. It is hard for her to maintain her self-confidence
when her feelings are being played around with. On top of all of that, her father does not approve
of her love of Lysander. For the majority of the play, she is in a stressful situation involving love.
It is almost as though she is conflicted about whether or not she should put up a wall. Her id is
telling her to risk it because nothing is more important than Lysander and if she needs to kill
herself instead of be with him, so be it; however; her superego wants her to play it safe so she
does not put herself through more suffering than she already has. In the end, her id overpowers

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her superego. Fortunately for her, Oberon and Puck were looking out for all four of the lovers.
She ends up marrying Lysander which was her goal from the start of the play.
Looking at A Midsummer Nights Dream through a psychoanalytical lens is important as
it not only helps to further understand what is happening throughout the play and why the
characters do what they do, but it also because it helps relate the play to Shakespeares life. This
is informative as well as interesting. In all honesty, it is necessary to have background
information on lock in order to make the connection between the events in the book and
Shakespeares life or else this play may just blend in with all of the other Shakespeare plays
involving the difficulty of love.