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Why should you read "A Midsummer Night's Dream?" - Iseult Gillespie


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By the light of the moon, a group sneaks into the woods, where they take mind-altering substances, switch it up romantically and brush up against creatures from another dimension. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” sees Shakespeare play with the boundary between illusion and reality - and dramatize the possibility that life is but a dream. Iseult Gillespie shares what makes this play a timeless classic.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

A Midsummers Night’s Dream uses an abundance of magical imagery, quirky characters and entrancing language to entertain the audience with a story that is simultaneously a romance and a fairy story, set primarily over the course of one night in the woods. The whole text is available as a Folger Digital edition here.

The seemingly chaotic plot draws heavily on carnival, mischief and magic - but it also draws us into a world that reveals common concerns about finding human connection, fun and inspiration, as this article argues.

As with all of Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream has roots in different sources, mythical motifs, and other stories. This page offers a fascinating overview of Shakespeare’s inspirations for his most topsy-turvy play.

In turn, the play has sparked many more creations - see this article for details on the visual art Shakespeare’s magical fairies and spell-binding language inspired.

Although Shakespeare’s language can be tricky to get to grips with when you’re reading or watching his work. Jame’s Baldwin’s essay “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare” offers a brilliant argument for why Shakespeare’s language still resonates.

A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream has been discussed and reimagined countless times since it first appeared. Read about its extensive staging history in this piece by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

As this article details, the story remains up for all types of interpretation; and has taken as many surprising forms as its characters. Visit this page to discover more about a particularly experimental recent staging, which reveals the radical nature of the story.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Narrator Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Sasha Dudka, Denis Bousygin, Alex Bohdan, Anna Dolzhenko
  • Illustrator Sasha Dudka
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-Checker Francisco Diez

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