The Moon as a Symbol in a Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Symbol of the Moon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream In William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s dream and also the movie A Midsummer’s Night Dream written and directed by Michael Hoffman, the moon is not only used to represent the difference between day and night but also as a symbol to represent love, lust and dreaming. Throughout the play and the movie, the moon takes on different meanings depending on the charactes’ situations. . Most of the play and the movie take place during night time when the moon sits in the background seemingly as a gentle observer but it is actually a very powerful force.
It has an almost intoxicating effect on many of the characters that causes bizarre and erotic behavior. The nighttime and the moon aaldue to almost dreamy time where anything can happen, it is where the lines start to become blurred between reality and fantasy. Other things that can be traced through the symbol of the moon would be dreaming, chaos, lust and love. The title a Midsummer’s Night Dream immediately brings thoughts of the moon and stars, and the first lines of both the movie and the play speak to the moon and the slow passing of time.
In Act 1 Scene 1 Thessus and Hipployta are taking about their marriage being 4 long days away. Thessus is pinning to be with Hippolyta and in respone Hippolyta says, “Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights; Four nights will quickly dream away the time; And then the moon, like to a silver bow New bent in heaven, shall behold the night of our solemnities. ” Hippolyta feels that the four days will pass quickly while Thessus feels that it will take an eternity. The lover’s reference to the moon was as if the moon would bear as a witness to their marriage ceremony as well as the pleasure of their wedding night.
It was almost as if the moon could then be connected to the union of the lovers in mind, body and soul. Another common symbol the moon represents is chastity and virginity. When Theseus warns Hermia about becoming a nun, he warns her that it’s no fun “To live a barren sister all your life / Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon” Chastity and virginity were also seen when Oberon describes the time that Cupid’s arrow accidentally hit the pansy and turned it into a magic, love-juice producing flower.
Well, Cupid’s arrow was originally aimed at a “fair vestal throne by the west” Oberon tells us that Cupid’s “fiery shaft” got lost in “the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon” and missed its original target. Even though the moon is often associated with virginity, it’s also linked to sexual desire. Egeus tells us that Lysander has often serenaded Hermia by moonlight and throughout the play and movie, when the lovers chase each other around in the woods, the action occurs in the moonlight.
The moon effects on characters depending on their situation and character is seen throughout the play and the movie. The fairies are one example of this. In Act 1 Scene 1 one of the fairies is very happy being a creature of the night. She says, “I do wonder everywhere/Swifter then the moon” When the fairy says this, she seem to be implying that she moves faster than the moon. It offers a connection to the moon and lunar imaginary being a master of the night and able to perform tricks faster than the moon.
The moon can also be related to the fairies erratic behavior. The fairies usually came out at night and were mischievous. Even though Puck who is one of the fairies he is a harmless trouble maker who likes to mislead night wanderers. It is as if the moon is his drug and renders the other charcters into a dream like state. At night is when Puck use the liquid of the pansey on the humans to play a trick for Oberon. The moon also seem to be partially responsible for the lovers’ erratic behavior.
Because the moon has different phases and it “waxes and wanes,” Elizabethans thought of it as fickle and inconstant The moon’s fickleness reflects the lovers’ tendency to fall in and out of love like a bunch of madmen. In Act 5 Scene 1, Theseus declares that that “the lunatic, the lover and the poet / Are of imagination all compact” The moon is also use in the Mechanicals play while rehearsing for Pyramus and Thisbe, Peter Quince worries about whether or not the moon will shine during the night of the performance, because Pyramus and Thisbe are supposed to “meet by moonlight” (3. . 4). The Mechanicals resolve the issue by making the Man on the Moon a character (performed by Starveling) in the play. During the Mechanicals’ bumbling performance of the play-within-the-play, Starveling holds up a lantern and declares, “This lantern doth the horned moon [re]present” (5. 1. 1