A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's Syzygy of Meaning (Prologue)

In his doctoral dissertation for the University of Peshwar, Pakistan, Ismail Wali enriches our understanding of Shakespeare's great work by mining the rich symbolic terrain of the syzygies, or complementary opposites, woven throughout the text. Further chapters will appear here in the coming months.

Prologue: Dream is Yielding

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go
Life is a barren field frozen with snow.
(L. Hughes in Diana and De Mille website).

The unique spatio-temporal environment in which William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream1 finds its setting is a complex, imaginative world, which we can imagine as containing waking and dreaming modes. In its waking mode, the humans live as if on the shore with the firm belief that their shore is the only irreversible reality. The waking mode is controlled by Theseus’ “cool reason” (IV. i. 6), a tool applicable only to certain areas in life and nature; hence it cannot encompass the whole truth. This waking mode—the rational, critical, analytical, and practical attitude—is compensated in Dream by a dreaming mode—the irrational and invisible forces working through the Fairies. Rational things are juxtaposed with irrational things, and we see how one is incomplete without the other. The play owes its strength to its paradoxical field of meaning, woven out of history/mystery; culture/nature; reality/dream; intellect/instincts; life/art; wisdom/imbecility; and masculine/feminine. In this way, the play dramatises the union of opposites on different levels. This union of opposites lures us into a Jungian reading of the play, with a particular focus on Jung’s notion of the syzygy, or complementary opposites.2

Since its appearance in 1595/96, critics have been reacting to Dream in different ways, varying in diction, tone, and taste. These critical voices are divided in their opinions, appraisals, and reactions to the breadth and depth of the imaginative potential of the play. For example, summing up the critical history of Dream, Price says:

The real answer is that, even by 1662, the play had lost much of its original meaning, and has continued to lose it, since every age is trapped by its own semantics: the “rational” in the eighteenth century, the ‘Ideal’ in the nineteenth…that only in the twentieth are we far away from Shakespeare to have to make a conscious (but enjoyable) effort to recover as much as possible that original meaning (p.11).

Extending Price’s idea, I venture to say that critics have their own web of meanings which, in turn, captures other minds only to spread in different directions. Some critics argue that the play was meant to be staged on the occasion of an aristocratic wedding, but the identity of the aristocrat has been debatable (Price, p. 17). My contention is that topicalities usually hide from us the inherent beauty of a work, which might be an ever-fresh source of self-reflection. Price says that Sharpham hints at the commercial aspect of the play during “Shakespeare’s working life” (in Price, p. 25). For Pepys, on the other hand, there was not much in the play, which, he says, “I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life. I saw, I confess, some good dancing and some handsome woman, which was all my pleasure” (3:208). What Pepys dismisses as “most insipid ridiculous play,” is for Downes even superior to Macbeth and The Tempest due to its “ornaments” (in Price, p. 27). For the latter, who calls the play, “The Fairy Queen,” the machinery is more interesting than the human persona.

For quite a few decades, the play goes out of the literary circle until John Dryden comments on the nature of the play. In his opinion, the play is a second-hand “imitation” showing fairies, which, in his opinion, reflects the “popular belief” of Shakespeare’s age. Dryden is not very appreciative of Shakespeare. He believes that Shakespeare pours old wine into new bottles (pp.86-97). Samuel Johnson continues in the same vein. For him, in addition to being a social satire3, the play is also “wild and fantastical,”4 catering to the popular beliefs of the Elizabethans (in Price, pp. 28-30). He, however, is full of high praise for the structural unity of the play. Compared to Dryden and Dr. Johnson, an anonymous, contemporaneous writer is critical of the plot of the play, but admires Shakespeare’s “genius and imagination.” He says:

The following piece [Dream] has poetical and dramatic merit, considered in general; but a puerile plot, an odd mixture of incidents, and a forced connexion of various stiles, throw a kind of shade that of merit many passages would otherwise have possessed. There is no character strongly marked, yet the while shews a very great master dallying with his own genius and imagination in a wonderful and delightful manner (in Price, p.30, emphasis mine).

The problem with these critics is that they look at the play a little too literally and overlook the symbolic and metaphoric dimensions of the play—something which the Romantics bring to the foreground for the first time. Of them, William Blake is the first who captures the mystic association in the union of the opposites like Titania and Bottom.5 Blake’s own words show that no balance is imaginable without opposites. He says, “Opposites: without contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate are necessary to human existence. The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of mind” (in Barfield, p. 3).

Coleridge narrows down his focus on the dominant image of “dream” in the play. He points to the different possible symbolic nuances that Shakespeare has in mind: Coleridge says, “I am convinced that Shakespeare availed himself of the title of this play in his own mind [as] a dream throughout” (1: 90). Coleridge concentrates only on Hermia and Helena for their “cool philosophising” and “ungrateful treachery” respectively (1: 90). Concentrating on Hermia, Coleridge is the first critic who rather reluctantly notes the differences in male/female psychological make-up. He says:

The act is very natural; the resolve so to act is, I fear, likewise too true a picture of the lax hold that principles have on the female heart, when opposed to, or even separated from, passion and inclination. For women are less hypocrite to their own minds than men, because they feel less abhorrence of moral evil in itself and more for its outward consequences” (1: 92).

Blake’s focus on the opposites in the play and Coleridge’s concentration on the nuances of “dream” and his inference of a rule for male/female differences set a new tone in the critical history of Dream. It may not be inappropriate that both Blake and Coleridge subtly suggest the psychological strains so dominant in the phenomena of opposites and dreams.

William Hazlitt takes the debate a few steps further; his focus is more on the characters in the play. Like his counterparts, Hazlitt also points at something that has psychological bearing. Commenting on Bottom, Hazlitt says that he is “conceited, serious and fantastical” (p.244). Furthermore, he is of the view that the play is more enjoyable if read than when it is staged. He believes that “In the [sic] Midsummer Night’s Dream, we should imagine more sweetness and beauty of description than in the whole range of French poetry put together” (p.245). Hazlitt’s contemporary, Gernivus, a German critic, continues in the same vein, suggesting psychological implications in the play. He says:

Shakespeare depicts [the fairies] as creatures devoid of refined feelings and of morality; just as we too in dreams meet with no check to our tender emotions and are freed from moral impulse and responsibility. Careless and unprincipled themselves, they tempt mortals to be unfaithful. The effects of the confusion, which they have set on foot, make no impression on them; with the mental tortures of the lovers they have no jot of sympathy. But over their blunders they rejoice, and at their fondness they wonder (in Price, p. 187).

Gernivus prefigures Freud’s Id in his approach to the dream-world in the play.6 It is interesting to note that critics pointed to important psychological phenomena in the play long before psychological theories were propounded, which in a way points to how Shakespeare is essentially concentrating on human nature.

Woelffel, a contemporary of Gernivus, draws our attention to the psychological differences between Lysander and Demetrius. The same love-juice has opposite effects on the two characters, rendering Lysander unfaithful and Demetrius faithful (in Price , p.35). Woelffel’s analysis is important in that it contains the seeds of what Jung would call syzygy. Morley, another observer of the same period, concentrates on Bottom’s dream in the play. He says that Bottom’s “dream clings about him, he cannot sever the real from unreal, and still we are made to feel that his reality is but a fiction” (in Price, p. 37). Halliwell-Phillips rules out detailed philosophical interpretations of the play. He writes that it is “too exquisite a composition to be dulled by the infliction of philosophical analysis” (in Price, p. 40). He seems to ignore the possibility of different aptitudes and inclinations of readers. Oechelhauser, another critic of the nineteenth century, emphatically calls the play only a “parody” (in Price, pp. 40-41). He is the first critic who reads all the characters in the play from a parodic viewpoint. He says that it is a “parody” of love, which in a way, is a kind of self-mockery in this that all humans are a product of this parody. His approach indirectly suggests that he sees no seriousness in Dream. Ochellhauser’s observations, however, are valuable for our analysis. He writes:

The roles of Theseus and Hippolyta acquire the genuine and befitting shade of comicality, when they are represented as a stout middle-aged pair of lovers, past their maturity, for such was unquestionably the design of the poet, and was in harmony with their active past life. The words of Titania [busken’d mistress], just quoted, refer to that corporeal superabundance which is wont to accompany mature years. But Theseus always speaks with the sedateness of early age (in Price, p. 41).

The play does not contain any clear information about the age of the characters. The artistic scheme of the play suggests, however, that Theseus and Hippolyta are older and mature adults in contrast to the younger and immature ones in Dream. The visualization of the characters is entirely dependent on the conceptualization of the individual director staging Dream. Oechelhauser focuses on the “comicality” of the classical figures. Bernard Shaw records his objection to the change in Oberon’s sex in a contemporary production (pp.145-148). Both Ochellhauser and Shaw point to the directors’ trend of adjusting the contents of Dream to their own requirements.

George Brandes, a contemporary of Oechelhauser and Shaw, is the first critic who employs the term “unconscious” in its psychological sense and reads Dream from a psychoanalytical point of view. In his opinion:

[Shakespeare] early felt and divined how much wider is the domain of the unconscious than of the conscious life, and saw that our moods and passions have their root in the unconscious. The germs of a whole philosophy of life are latent in the way-ward love-scenes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (in Horwood, p. 69).

Thus with Brandes we explicitly enter into a new “dawn” in the history of “Night’s Dream.” The insightful point to note in Brandes’ approach is that he tends to envision Jung’s Collective Unconscious rather than Freud’s Id.7 If Brandes breaks new ground for the later critics, Ward focuses on the nature of the play, as opposed to his earlier counterparts whose focus is on characters. Ward believes that Shakespeare uses his technical manoeuvres to make a “trap” for his audience and readers. He says:

The whole Dramatis Personae of this play, the mainly conventional figures of the Duke and Duchess and the pairs of lovers, the realistic oddities of the jubilee tradesmen, and the fanciful impossibilities of the fairy court stand confessed as machinery—devised to doubt with extraordinary wit and skill—for sustaining the interest of the action. The whole play remains in substance a romantic comedy of incident; and the fancy is the faculty manly engaged in enjoying it (in Forwood, p. 167, emphasis mine).

In Ward’s opinion, the play is a “mechanised contrivance” for fanciful enjoyment. It may not be inappropriate to say that Ward’s comments echo Theseus’ criticism of the dramatic art as “shadows… not worst if amended by imagination” (V. i. 211-12). Keeping in view certain new groundbreaking approaches to Dream (as that of, Blake, Coleridge and Brandes), we move ahead with Chesterton into the twentieth century. Admiring Dream as “from certain point of view the greatest of his [Shakespeare’s] plays” and declaring it “in a sense…a greater triumph of psychology than Hamlet itself,” Chesterton says:

It may well be questioned whether in any other literary work in the world is so vividly rendered social and spiritual atmosphere. There is an atmosphere in Hamlet, for instance, a somewhat murky and even melodramatic one, but it is subordinate to the great character, and morally inferior to him; the darkness is only a background for the isolated star of intellect. But A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a psychological study, not of a solitary man, but of a spirit that unites mankind (p.15, emphasis mine).

In Chesterton’s view, Dream is a comedy in its generic sense, but the presence of darkness in it raises many questions to be answered from different dimensions. His “uniting spirit” is what the Jungians would call the Self.8 Chesterton draws our attention to the psychological base of the whole play, not just its parts. Summing up the whole effect of Dream as “mysticism of happiness,” Chesterton singles out Theseus as an epitome of “happy and generous rationalism” with the suggestion that it is Theseus who knows that the fairies are “the unconscious masterpieces of man himself” (p.16). Reserving the debatable issues in Chesterton’s approach to Theseus and the unconscious for discussion later in the work, I quote him again for another important issue. He says, “The whole question which is balanced, and balanced nobly and fairly, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is whether the life of waking, or the life of the vision, is the real life, the sine qua non of man” (p.20).

The point that Chesterton raises in the above quote has religious and metaphysical implications. The ideal balance does not seem to be in the structure of the play, however, and he himself admits that “the whole matter [is] mysteriously hilarious while it is palpably tragic, and mysteriously charitable, while it is in itself cynical (45 emphasis mine). Excepting his attention to Theseus, Chesterton’s appreciative concentration is on the philosophical and psychological dimension of the whole play. Stopford Brooke focuses both on Theseus and Hippolyta. He says:

Theseus and Hippolyta are children of the day, of clear reason, and practical life. Hippolyta is the sensible woman of high rank, with all the natural freedom of a great lady, living and thinking in the open air….She [Hippolyta] has little patience with folly and ignorance…Theseus—he is of the bright-eyed morning; no king of shadows, like Oberon, never in a dream (in Horwood, p. 168).

Brooke seems to ignore that both Theseus and Hippolyta are humans; hence, they should be dealt with as such. And it is not a natural law that a high ranking woman will always be “great” and “sensible.” He also raises Theseus above humans by saying that he never dreams. Thus his judgment leads to conflicts rather than resolving them. Theseus can be associated with “day,” but no day is without its night as experienced by humans. Brooke’s comment on the Fairies is important in the sense that it clearly tends to render them archetypal figures. He says:

[Shakespeare] made their [little fairies] life to the moon. It is only in her light that they waken to dance and sing and rejoice. It is only at night that they are happy, and are able for their pretty works…. But Oberon and Titania are free, or nearly free, from this limitation. When they assume a mortal shape, they share in the day. Their nature is to “follow darkness like a dream." They are in the shadow world. Yet even their king has power to play with the outskirts of the dawn (in Forwood, p. 171).

Brooke notes the autonomous nature of the Fairies, which brings them closer in suggestion to the concept of archetypes in Jung. Both Chesterton and Brooke are serious about the contents of Dream, but Sidgwick, their close contemporary, “throws” it “into winds” to use his own words:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is more of a mask than a drama, an entertainment rather than a play. The characters are mostly puppets … probability is thrown to the winds; anachronism is rampant; classical figures are mixed with fairies and sixteenth Warwickshire peasants. The main plot is sentimental; the secondary plot is sheer buffoonery; while the story of Titania’s jealousy and Oberon’s method of curing it can scarcely be dignified by the title of plot at all. The threads which bind together these three tales, however ingeniously fastened, are fragile (Sidgwick, p. 2, emphasis mine).

Frank Sidgwick seems to overlook the dream atmosphere of the play, and seeks a rational and strictly causal way of dealing with the structural elements of the play whose very title is “dream.” This is not to say anything about dreams within Dream. He also seems to reduce the play to what Hippolyta says about “Pyramus and Thisby” in the play: “Thisby is the silliest stuff that ever I have heard” (V.i.210). Despite his negation of the play’s structural strengths, Sidgwick is the first critic to give us enough information on the mythological base of the play (pp.2-65). Contrary to Sidgwick, Croce is highly appreciative of the dream atmosphere in the play, and concludes his debate with his interest in the opposites:

Here we find a resemblance to the rapid passage states and the strange complications that arose in Italian knightly romances, as the result of drinking the water from one of two opposite fountains where of one filled the heart with amorous desires, the other turned first ardours to ice (in Price, p. 49).

Croce’s remark is loaded with symbolism regarding the anima/animus relationship. Welsford, in his treatment of the play as masque, follows Sidgwick, but moves in a different direction with his main focus on the dances and their movement (pp.324-349). In his opinion, the lovers quarrel in a dance pattern: first, there are two men to one woman and the other woman alone, then for a brief space circular movement, each one pursuing and pursued, then a return to the first figure with the position of the women reversed, the a cross-movement, man quarrelling with man and woman with woman, and then a general setting to partners, including not only lovers but fairies and royal personages as well.

Symbolically speaking, the dance analogy aptly represents the projection-making stage in humans. The conclusion reached by Welsford, however, is not convincing: “The dance-like structure makes it inevitable that the lovers should be all devoid of character as “masquers or masque-presenters” (p.332).

J. B. Priestley, a contemporary of Croce’s, revives the tradition of Hazlitt in his high appreciation of Bottom’s sensitive nature. He says:

Among his fellow artisans, Bottom is clearly the ladies’ man, the gallant. He it is who shows himself sensitive to the delicacy of the sex in the matter of the killing and the lion, and we feel that his insistence upon a prologue, ‘a device to make all well,’ is only the result of his delicacy and chivalry (p.3).

Priestley’s democratic treatment of Bottom, like that of Hazlitt’s before him, establishes a human-friendly tradition. Unlike Croce and Priestley, Latham studies the Fairies in Dream from the Elizabethan point of view, and confines their archetypal universality and autonomy to the minute details of a certain period in the social history of England (pp.29-31, pp.78-88, pp.179-184, pp. 240-255). The beliefs and traditions about the Fairies, which he relates to the Elizabethan context, narrow down their symbolic implications. Some portions of his detail, however, are useful for their metaphoric associations.

Compared to Latham’s, G. Wilson Knight’s findings are of universal nature. He is the first critic to note the symbolic associations of the disastrous images in Dream:

Unruly floods, disorder in the seasons, storms and mud and all natural confusion result from the dissension in fairyland. And the tempest is at the heart of the play, sending ripples outward through the plot, vitalising the whole middle action. Hence our dissension and mistakes, our comedy; in fact, our drama: most of the action is related to the Oberon-Titania quarrel (p.234).

The images that Knight mentions have great value and meaning in a Jungian model of human psyche. Knight provides us enough material to read the play as a study in opposites.9 He also points out the importance of the animal imagery in Dream (151-168). Like Blake, Knight’s appreciative vision also falls on the union of Bottom/Titania as opposites. In this regard he says, “It is a symbolic union: symbolic of the whole play where opposites are so exquisitely blended in many” (p.167). In Jungian terms, the same statement can be rendered into the union of the conscious/unconscious symbolised through marriage in humans. Another significant point in Knight’s evaluation is his liberal approach to Theseus, Oberon, and Bottom, terming each as “sovereign in his sphere, king over his companions, and demands our respect” (p.68). However, later he says that only “Theseus is the calmest and wisest” (p.168). Thus his treatment of Theseus seems to be lopsided. Knight universalizes Dream, and Spurgeon “lunarizes” it by focusing on the image of “moon” (pp.259-263). Spurgeon’s close reading of the lunar imagery shows that, in the whole corpus of Shakespeare, two-thirds of the references to the moon are in Dream.10 She overlooks two important points, however: one, her emphasis falls only on its positive aspects; second, she does not relate its symbolic importance to our psychic life. Later, Schanzer continues with Spurgeon’s tradition, but in a different way. Schanzer mainly concerns himself with the probable physical differences among the Fairies (pp.234-24). For example, Schanzer says:

While the theme of love-madness weaves together variously apparently unrelated portions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare creates unity of atmosphere chiefly by flooding the play with moonlight. There is one daylight scene in the entire play… where we watch the coming of dawn and with it Theseus’ hunting party” (p.238).

Schanzer raises an interesting point regarding the symbolic unity of Dream and its movement from moonlight to dawn. He also relates the lunar aspects to our psychic phenomenon. I do not agree, however, with his treatment of Theseus. For instance, he says: “And the Duke’s cool reason and good sense throw into relief the lovers’ absurdities. They [Fairies] have their natural existence by moonlight, which propagates phantoms and illusions, the world of dreams” (p.240). Here Schanzer ignores the psychological truth that “cool reason” grows out of “phantoms, illusions and dreams;” not the other way around. Despite my reservation, it is worth mentioning that the critic recognizes the archetypal associations of the Fairies.11

Long turns to the music in the play, and asserts how its central role creates the atmosphere of harmony in the play. Her idea relates to that of Spurgeon’s who sees the visual aspect of the “moon” for the same effect (pp.84-105). Schanzer shares with Spurgeon his idea of the lunar presence, but with contextual concerns. Olson continues the tradition of contextualising the contents of Dream with his focus on the Renaissance philosophy of marriage and its implications in Dream (pp.95-118). He declares Theseus as “King of Order”, implying that he is a “Slave of Chaos” from a Jungian point of view.12 In this respect, we should also note that Theseus takes no practical steps to establish order in his Dukedom. On the other hand, the Fairies (Puck and Oberon) guide the young lovers, though through “fogs and mists,” to choose right partners. Olson’s approach is important in the sense that he seeks something serious in the play. William Rossky, following the same line of thinking, discusses the nuances of “imagination” in the Renaissance/Elizabethan society (pp. 49- 73). Rossky’s theory tends to highlight that “imagination” was a Renaissance/Elizabethan issue, and is buried with them for once and for ever. He ignores the fact that the term ‘imagination’ is very popular with the Romantics, and that of ‘active imagination’ still has currency in archetypal literature.13

Another critic of note is Frye, whose archetypal vision counterbalances the historical approaches of Olson, Rossky, and others. Frye extends the Jungian idea of archetypes to look at the development of drama in the west, and uses the cyclical pattern of the four seasons. He introduces the idea of “green comedy” for plays such as Dream, (Anatomy of Criticism, pp. 131-147).14 Thus Frye’s concept brings to light the symbolic meaning of the forest attached to Athens in the play, suggesting that Athens without its forest is like a field without greenery (p.182). On the whole, Frye’s vision is past-oriented, evoking the traditions of bygone ages. Perhaps influenced by Frye, C. L. Barber studies the play and its title in the light of traditions, rituals, ceremonies, and social customs associated with the “festive” season in the Elizabethan culture (pp.119-157). Critics like Latham and Barber critics like Barber deal with the contents of an artistic piece in such a way as to confine it to
the context in which it is/was produced, having no relevance to our

Kermode revives the Chestertonian tradition in clear opposition to his contemporaries. He believes that Dream is “Shakespeare’s best comedy” (p.214). Before highlighting the opposites in the play, Kermode comments on Theseus and notes that Theseus’ approach to life is incomplete without that of Bottom’s (p.219). In this regard, he further says, “woods have their own wisdom as well as the city” (p.220). Recording his idea of the opposites in the play, Kermode observes:

And it might even be added that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is more serious in this way…because the patterns of sight and blindness, wood and city, phantasmia and vision, grow into a large and complex statement, or an emblematic presentation not to be resolved into its component parts, of love, vulgar and celestial (p.220).

The important point in Kermode’s vision of the play is the interconnectedness of the “vulgar/celestial,” which is at the core of Bottom-Titania symbolism in the play.

G. K. Hunter takes up the tradition of Theseus as a role model, and finds only “contrast,” but no “interaction” in the whole of play (pp.8-19). He also defines Dream as “a dance of emotions, not subjected to anything like psychological analysis” (p.11). From a psychological point of view, dream itself is an interacting process, not to speak of other interactions in the play. However, Hunter goes a step too far when he throws emotions out of the pale of psychology. W. Dent goes in the opposite direction that Hunter takes. He says:

According to a good many critics, Shakespeare contrasts from the start the irrationality of the lovers with what these critics regard as the admirable rationality of Theseus-Hippolyta. The latter becomes a kind of ideal which the lovers approach by the end of the play. If so, the role of imagination in love is simple and obvious, it is a disrupting irrational influence, which must eventually be purged, and will prove in simple and total contrast to Shakespeare’s art. But I cannot see that any contrast so mechanical as this is intended (116, emphasis mine).

Dent focuses on the role of imagination in Dream, and says that it is “a creation of Shakespeare’s imagination” (p.118). He debates the issue of passionate imagination (as that of the lovers in the play) and the creative imagination of Shakespeare (pp.11-129). His discussion of dreams is suggestive of Jungian perspective. He says:

Some dreams are divine revelation of truth, however difficult to expound, and we have already seen plays of Shakespeare where dreams contained at least a prophetic, specific truth, if not a universal one. Some dreams are yielding, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream—although a poet’s revelation rather than a divinity’s—may be one of them (pp.120-21).

Dent reluctantly accepts the visionary aspects of Dream and says that it lays bare before us some of the fundamental dimensions of our psychic life. In his conclusion, Dent further emphasises the visionary aspects of the play, including that of Bottom’s, but with the same reluctance. He says, “Whether A Midsummer Night’s Dream has an unplumbed ‘bottom’ as well as its inescapable Bottom, I hesitate to say. But it provides us ‘a most rare vision,’ one that offers us a disarmingly unpretentious defence of poetry by the greatest of England’s poets” (p.129).

In contrast to Dent, who seems to be very optimistic about Dream, Jan Kott sees nothing but murky eroticism in the play. For example he says:

The Dream is most erotic of Shakespeare’s plays….The slender, tender and lyrical Titania longs for animal love. Puck and Oberon call the transformed Bottom a monster. The frail and sweet Titania drags the monster to bed, almost by force. This is the lover she wanted and dreamed of; only she never wanted to admit it even to herself. Sleep frees her from inhibitions. The monstrous ass is being raped by the poetic Titania, while she still keeps on chattering about flowers (Shakespeare Our Contemporary, p. 213).

Kott’s reading of the Bottom-Titania scene reduces its symbolic complexities to the strictly gendered division of humans as man and woman, overlooking their archetypal patterns, so elaborately explained by Jung and Jungian writers. Other feminist readings echo Kott’s reading. Kim Hall sees only “darker” aspects of the work, presenting a one-sided picture of Shakespeare’s Dream (pp.1-24).15 Calderwood reads the play as dramatic illusion that applies to every artistic creation without exception, overlooking the intricacies of Dream’s symbolism (pp.141-177).

Young focuses on an artistic examination of the pictorial aspects of the play’s imagery (pp.75-81). “Like the patterns of imagery, the panoramas contribute significantly to the play’s atmosphere of magic, spaciousness and limitless possibility, all attributes of the power of imagination which it both derives from and celebrates” (p.80, emphasis mine). I do not agree with Young’s indirect reference to Theseus’ view of imagination, which he deconstructs by reducing it to a pathological condition. However, from a Jungian perspective, the italicized phrase echoes the archetypal patterns in Dream.

Fender takes up “ambivalence” as the central issue in the play and traces it to the sources of Shakespeare (pp.20-31). In his essay, he further reveals that Theseus was associated with “reason” in the medieval narratives. He adds, however, that “In Shakespeare’s hands the very rationality of Theseus becomes ambivalent” (p.25). Thus, unlike some of his predecessors, Fender clearly notes the ambivalence in Theseus’ rationalism. He recognizes the complexity of Dream. In his own words:

The double value of characters is crucial to the way we respond to the play in which nothing is quite as simple as it seems at first. Much of the play’s ironic pressure consists in the audience’s awareness, at any one moment, of a character’s contrariety: unless we remember the fairies’ potential evil even when they are acting graciously, unless we are aware of the limits of Theseus’ reason, unless we remember the potential insights of blind love even when love seems most irrational and dangerous, we miss much of the point of the play (p.31).

Fender’s recommendation implies that the play has two structures: a surface structure and a deep structure. The former seems to be simple, light, entertaining, as if a one-way traffic. The latter, on the other hand, points to something serious and complex, thus providing us a vision of complementary opposites. His phrase “ironic pressure” is loaded with symbolism in this regard. Weiner makes “marriage” the central issue in Dream (336-349). He notes that all the major characters are parts of a larger whole; one is incomplete without the other. In his opinion:

Shakespeare shows us through Theseus and Hippolyta the union that there is in marriage by showing us how incomplete the speeches of either one without the complement of the other. Through the young lovers, he shows us the passionate dotage that seems to be the usual precursor of love—and as Oberon reminds us; even Theseus had to pass through the stage (p.337).

Weiner very aptly notes the situation by revealing the interconnectedness of the characters’ problems in the play. An important point of archetypal significance in Weiner’s study is his equation of Oberon and Titania with Adam and Eve (p.338).

Anne Barton continues with the human aspect of Dream, and moves it ahead in her own way. Introducing the play she says:

The play as a whole takes a far more complicated view of the matter. Theseus himself, for Shakespeare as for Chaucer and Sophocles, is pre-eminently the hero of the daylight world of practicalities, of the active as opposed to the contemplative life. His relationship with Hippolyta in the comedy presents an image of passion steadied by the relative maturity of the people involved. There are ages of love as of human life and Theseus and Hippolyta represents summer as opposed to the giddy spring fancies of the couples lost in the wood (p.219).

Barton’s division of the couples into two age groups is very important from psychological point of view.16 Barton is the first critic to note the subtle suggestion of a new beginning in the end of Dream—something that I further elaborate later, but take it in a different direction.

Leggatt’s focus falls on the paradoxical situations in the play, which he sums up as “organized disorder” (pp.89-106). From symbolic point of view, Leggatt’s paradoxical expression aptly suits the way events occur in Dream and, in turn, its connection with the Jungian idea of syzygy. Leggatt sees the complementarity of characterization in it. He says:

Through much of the play the worlds of Theseus and Oberon—rulers, respectively of the day and the night—are opposing and complementary. While the other characters mingle, the two rulers never share the stage. In Theseus’ city, order, and rationality are temporarily dominant, with suggestions of a period of chaos in the past (and with some laws from the past that still need reforming: Egeus invokes a barbaric ‘ancient privilege’” (p.90).

Leggatt highlights the gravity of the cruel Athenian law, which prevents a woman from choosing a partner. Leggatt also notes that Theseus’ rationality does not work for long, implying that it has its limitations, and if extended too far to restrict freedom of choice, may result in disastrous consequences.

Purdon reads the mythological associations of the play including those of the “moon,” omitting its ominous ones (pp.178-203). He says that Dream has not received the appreciative attention it deserves compared to other works of Shakespeare. Winding up his ideas, he says: “But in Shakespeare, the whole relationship between appearance and reality, reason and imagination, play and truth is probed much more deeply, particularly by the imagination of a marriage-play which parodies the main action” (p.203). Purdon also understands the thematic opposites as human, though more as structures than as complexes and archetypal patterns dramatised in our behavior and attitudes.

Brooks writes a comprehensive introduction to the play, summing up not only the critical responses of previous ages to the play but also with a review of its editions, topical issues, and sources (pp. xxi-Lxxxviii). He introduces Theseus as “the noble ruler” from the medieval model, indicating that he also looks at Dream as a thing of the past, having no relevance in our times (p. Cii). He attaches Theseus’ “genuine feeling” to that of Queen Elizabeth I before acknowledging his “rational order, even in his poetics of what cool reason comprehends” (p. Ciii). Brooks’ contribution has its value but he does not propose any new approach to the study of the play.

Maurice Hunt reads the play as a “political allegory” (pp.423-435). Hunt focuses on the characters in Dream to establish their relation with the historical/political personages of Shakespeare’s times, especially Queen Elizabeth. The allegorical reading places the play in a narrow context, treating a piece of art like an historical document. I present my argument through Campbell, who writes:

Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history or science, it is killed. The living images become only a remote fact of a distant time or sky. Furthermore it is never difficult to demonstrate that as science and history mythology is absurd. When a civilisation begins to reinterpret its mythology in this way, the life goes out of it. Temples become museums and the link between the two perspectives is dissolved (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 11).

Freudian readings of Dream, like the contextual studies, do not encompass the complexities interconnected on many levels of meaning in the play, but reduce it to the study of sex, which is a vital part of the whole, not the whole itself. Gui seems to be the first critic to employ Freudian tools to analyze Bottom’s dream (pp.251-305).17 Later, Hensley uses the same method to expound the play (pp.120-138). Hermia’s dream in the play attracts Holland’s analytical attention (pp.1-20). Geoffrey Steer provides us a fresh Freudian analysis of the play. Steer concludes with the following words:

William Shakespeare establishes effective use of technique and setting that not only gain access to the dreams and desires of his characters, but also his audience. Although A Midsummer Night’s Dream is comedic in nature, it provides serious insight into the importance of fantasy and desire to humanity—especially amidst certain intellectual thought in advancing civilization. A Midsummer Night’s Dream demonstrates that fantasy is inseparably interconnected with desire, existent both within the imagination, and within the unconscious (Steer website).

Steer acknowledges the seriousness of Dream from psychoanalytical viewpoint, and his conclusion echoes more Jungian rings than Freudian slips. Dianne Hunter, whose foundations are post-Freudian and Lacanian, contextualises its contents. She says:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream synthesizes disparate source materials and inter-texts into dramatic and meta-theatrical transformations of oral fusion and primal scene fantasies. These fantasies underlie and motivate the hierarchical structure of Shakespeare’s patriarchal world and threaten its stability. The play enacts these fantasies in shape-shifting fullness while containing them within a dramatic form that both collapses and maintains Elizabethan hierarchy. The play’s multiple staging of scenes involving porous boundaries effects a style of subversive conservatism. By transmitting the unseen in visible form, A Midsummer Night’s Dream alchemically brings suppressed Celtic imagination into dynamic harmony with an early modern linguistic and social sensibility. The Celtic imaginary in the play parallels what psychoanalysis calls the infantile unconscious. Occulted power transforms and deconstructs the violent heterosexual yoking comprising patriarchal dominance. (Dianne Hunter: website, emphasis mine).

Through Jung, whose tone seems to be stronger, I venture to say, “It should never be forgotten—and of this the Freudian school must be reminded—that morality was not brought down on tables of stone from Sinai and imposed on the people, but it is a function of the human soul, as old as humanity itself” (Two Essays, CW 7, p.27).

Hunter’s tone sounds very strong, treating art as if a documentary evidence of “patriarchal system.” She also confines the fairies to the Celtic past, a “fruitless vision” for us: whereas fairies are archetypal images from Jungian perspective, appearing under different names but for the same purpose in every human culture. The opposites she notes are important and should be analyzed from an archetypal point of view, bringing to light the truth that “fairies” not “were” but “are” parts of our psyche so that art may be experienced as something soulful or a living presence. If Hunter localizes the contents of the play from a ritual perspective, Berry puts the same contents in a larger sociological context, finding their parallels in other human cultures, too.18 Berry says:

Every study of Shakespeare, like that of any great artist, must end by recognizing the mystery of human imagination. The marvel of Shakespeare’s art is that his forms are not only Elizabethan but universal. In re-creating the social patterns of his age, he gave “local habitation” to one of the most ancient and universal patterns of human experience– that of rites of passage. This dynamic structure makes Shakespeare’s romantic comedies at once unique, Elizabethan and universal (p.200).

The past thirty to forty years show an explosion of knowledge on different levels of human thinking, and the same trend has its influence on the play under discussion.19 In this regard, summing up recent commentary, Paul Williams says:

In our post-modern era, A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been the subject of gender issues, post-colonial studies, and textual discoveries. It has come to our stages as a virtual anthology of gender and class wars, rebellions against state oppression, and celebrations of third world cultures. In recent years, the play has showed remarkable openness to the late twentieth century sense of the instability of all things beneath the moon, including language and meaning (Paul Williams website).

Critics do reserve the right to apply any tool to a work of art, and my point is that every new reading points to the imaginative potentials of the play, suggesting that it can be read from different perspectives.20 There are voices from the opposite direction, too. For example, William Carroll’s vision seems to be more comprehensive. Shakespeare has used the concept of ‘Metamorphosis’ in a variety of ways to express transformation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (pp.141-177). Metamorphosis is the idea of transformation or change; it is a process that affects us all on physical and metaphysical levels. These changes or transformations affect our perception of reality and are part of, and define, how we experience the human condition. On a different level, the theme of metamorphosis has its connection with Sara Carter’s focus on the neo-Platonic and Ovidian “registers” in the play (pp.1-31).

I agree with the idea of metamorphosis in the play, but explain it with the Jungian concept of enantiodromia.21 Similarly, in Shakespeare’s Comic Rights, Berry arouses our imaginative curiosity to see further. He says:

Nowhere is symbolic geography more elaborately defined, for example, than in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Athens is a realm of legalism, the wood of licence. Athens is a realm of mortals, the wood of fairies. Athens is a court, the wood a natural landscape. Athens serves rationalism, the wood imagination. Athens is a waking, the wood a dreaming world. And the list could be extended (p.140).

With the idea of symbolism in our mind, we turn to the readings of the play from a Jungian perspective.22 The Jungian studies of the play seem to be in its initial stages.23 There are a few studies; besides Frye, Keith Sagar also employs the vision of mythologists, like Frazer and Campbell, for interpreting the contents of the play. Sagar says:

The beginning of the last act returns us to Athens and Theseus, who immediately dismisses what the lovers have said and the audience witnessed as untrue, 'antique fables' and 'fairy toys'. Theseus claims that 'cool reason' comprehends everything, that love is a matter of 'seething brains' and 'shaping fantasies,' that, since all are dominated by 'imagination', there is no difference between 'the lunatic, the lover, and the poet'. In other words, love and poetry, being non-literal and beyond reason, are forms of madness. That he should mock the poet's capacity to move freely between earth and heaven implies that for him heaven itself is no more than 'airy nothing'. He has allowed his reason to block off his access to the world of imagination, fearing that to relax strict control is to invite confusion. In so doing he has held feeling at arms length, consigning it to the unreal world of dream and the dangerous world of night. It is Theseus who, for the lovers, 'hath turned a heaven into a hell' (p.43).

Sagar clearly mentions that it is Theseus’ “cool reason” that causes the chaotic experiences of the lovers. Sagar also says that Shakespeare purges the fairies of their evil side. And his premise is totally against the concept of archetypes in Jung, which are always polar in nature. Here is a great contradiction between Sagar’s view and that of Paul Williams’. Sagar says that the Fairies are evil spirits turned into benevolent ones by Shakespeare. While Carroll and Williams hold that the fairies are delicate creatures changed into something ominous by Shakespeare. As Paul Williams writes:

Shakespeare was the first writer to present the traditional view of fairies as somewhat delicate creatures; this popular image reduces them to the diminutive creatures that live under mushrooms. However, the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are far removed from this archetypal vision; they are powerful and formidable forces that represent chaos and imagination. Elementals, Earth-Fire-Water-Air-spirit; shape-shifters that merge and metamorphose with one another, maintaining stability and balance in the natural world. Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the fairies, are representations of the polemic nature of pagan Gods, the Earth Mother and the Sun God, when united, they control the weather and the seasons. When Oberon and Titania quarrel for possession of the changeling boy all nature goes awry (Paul Williams website, emphasis mine).

The italicized segment of the passage explicitly negates the archetypal dimension of the Fairies, but the terminology the writer employs to describe their chaotic powers validates their position as archetypal forces. Perhaps the writer thinks that archetypes are always good and benevolent, which goes against the very concept of archetypes as polarised entities. Jacobi is clear on the issue under discussion; he writes:

In their undifferentiated state they [symbols] bear within them salvation and doom, good and evil, health and sickness, and every conceivable pair of opposites. It is the task of the conscious mind, as the ordering and understanding principle in man, to help one and the other of these aspects to become operative and to add to its sense and form—giving energy to the indifferent sway of our primordial psychic nature, in order that neither instinct nor intellect, but a spirit that surveys them both, may keep the psyche in balance (Archetypes Complex, Archetype, and Symbol in the Psychology of C. G. Jung, p.24).

In light of Jacobi’s unambiguous remarks, we are in a position to say that both Sagar and Williams are lopsided in their approaches regarding the Fairies in the play. The contention further shows that the polarity of the Fairies as primordial images should be justified on substantial grounds.

Besides Sagar, there is another Jungian study of the play by Matthew Fike of Winthrop University. In this study, Fike proposes that Dream should not be analyzed through the narrow tool of Freud but through the vast and collective vision of Jung. He writes:

In geographical terms, Athens represents consciousness, and the woods represent both aspects of the unconscious mind. The archetypal material of the collective unconscious can be accessed in three compatible ways—through dream, via the imagination, and in visionary experience. Woven into Bottom's vision, however, are suggestions of a paranormal experience that transcends the mind's conscious awareness of unconscious content (Winthrop website).

The contents of the above-cited passage are highly revealing as far the play’s archetypal potential is concerned, and my analysis is in tune with them, with the addition that the play contains many images of the quaternity principle which are necessary to bring the play’s vision into concord with Jung’s concept of the Self.24 The title of the study also seems to be a bit misleading, pointing to something beyond the collective unconscious, a dimension even beyond God and infinity.25 Nonetheless, the study is first of its kind in its approach and comprehensiveness. Another study of a different approach but the same nature is that of Dr. Perrault, who takes us to another level of meanings found and practised not only in the Medieval Ages and the Renaissance but also in the mythological past of the Greeks (Perrault website). Perrault’s main focus is on the traditions and beliefs of the past with a view to providing details to the directors for theatrical purposes. Her major finding is the psychological relationship between Oberon/Titania as Hippolyta’s animus and Theseus’ anima respectively. There is another Jungian reading by Mira Wiegmann.26

The whole review discussed above discloses that our play, excepting a few negative approaches, is on the move toward greater appreciation and continues to engage the focus of academic scholars. Its historical movement begins with Pepys at the one end (who looks at the surface and laughs away) and Perrault at the other (who plunges into its depths), forming a “syzygial” pattern. I think this is the juncture where I start and develop my argument, which is based on the postulates of archetypal psychology as expounded by Jung and his followers.27 To begin with, Dream is the most archetypal of Shakespeare’s titles.28 It owes its archetypal symbolism to two principal words, Night and Dream, both of which are charged with symbolic energy as archetypal images.29 Jung writes:

The archetypal structure of the unconscious, over and over again and irrespective of traditions, those figures which reappear in the history of all epochs and all peoples and endow them with the same significance that have been theirs from the beginning (Mysterium Coniunctionis, CW 14, p.55).

Being archetypal images both “Night” and “Dream” are free from historical and cultural constraints; if translated, every human on earth can intuit not only their meanings but also their metaphorical associations. We can imagine their spiritual depth through Jung, who writes:

In dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There it is still the whole, and the whole is in him, distinguishable from nature and bare from all ego-hood. Out of these all-uniting depths arises the dream, be it never so infantile, never so grotesque, never so immoral" (Civilization in Transition, CW 10, p.67, emphasis mine).

Jung further says that the origin of dreams lies in the unfathomable “Night” of the human soul.

Thus the words “Night” and Dream” in Shakespeare’s title are two grand symbols unifying all humans from times immemorial to the present and beyond—without hurting anyone’s social or cultural identity. Interestingly, Titania points to something similar in her long speech on natural disasters. She says, “We are their [human’s] parents and original” (II, i, 117). Titania’s expression is highly charged and heavily loaded with suggestion of the archetypes as the basic patterns of psychic life. And archetypes can only be accessed through dreams, myths, fairytales, and legends generally imaged in “primordial night or eternal womb.” In this sense, the play is a world of energetic potentials and immense possibilities, hinted at in the title itself as Dream coupled with Night.

The seminal word in the title of the play is “Dream,” qualified by “A,” “Summer,” and “Night,” suggesting indefiniteness, heat, and darkness respectively, which are evidently anima images. However, the same images have hidden in them their opposites; “the” (definiteness) as opposed to “A;” “winter” and “day,” suggesting cold and light, to “summer” and “Night;” reality to “Dream.”

Syzygy—the idea of complementary opposites, especially those of anima in man and animus in woman—dialectically reflects what Emma Jung calls quaternity (1). Interestingly, Puck says in Dream, “Two of both kinds make up four” (III. ii. 437). In its etymological sense syzygy refers to the yoke that binds two oxen in such a way so as to make them plough the earth, i.e., to function properly. Any imbalance between the oxen may cause many difficulties for the farmer. With this in mind, we read the following portion from Titania’s speech: “The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain/The ploughman lost his sweet” (II. i. 93-94). The image of “deyoked” oxen suggests that the pair of oxen is not “syzygized;” hence no binding, no mediating link in-between, and no productive outcome. The process of “ploughing” is associated with the earth—the feminine. Here, we should also imagine the picture of a single ox running frantically with one end of the yoke on its shoulder, and the other hanging down to the ground, suggesting imbalance, chaos and anarchy. Since the means of attachment has been detached, there will be no ploughing. This analogy helps us capture the symbolic associations of the bull symbolism.30 Tucker’s comments deserve mention here. She says:

The bull is somewhat unique in the world of symbolism in that he is both a solar and a lunar creature. His male fertility, his fiery temperament, and his role as father of the herd make him the masculine sun-god in many cults. Just as the lion is the king and terror of the beasts of the forest, the bull is the king of the farm and the personification of brute strength and power. The lion, the bull, and the sun are popular symbols of life and resurrection. The bull's crescent shaped horns link him to moon worship and symbolism although, in some areas, the sun is a bull while the moon is a cow. Sin, the moon-god of ancient Ur, was often pictured as a bull (Tucker website).

That is, the “bull” is associated with our psychic energy, and the picture of “deyoking” in Dream evokes the confusion, anarchy, and chaos when the psychic balance is lopsided both from intra- and inter-psychic points of view. In a way, Bottom intuits the situation. [in its verb form, hunch refers only to a physical act—such as hunching one’s back. The verb form that implies intuition is “to have a hunch”] Addressing Mustardseed, he says: “Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well: that same cowardly, giant-like ox-beef hath devoured many a gentleman of your house: I promise you your kindred had made my eyes water ere now” (III. i.182-185, emphasis mine).

Hermia’s terse expression “unwished yoke” opens another window in this regard (I. i. 81). The image is symbolically linked to Titania’s “deyoked” oxen.

Both Titania and Hermia, being women, relate to the anima-energy, the repressed aspect of Theseus and his culture. In astronomy, syzygy is associated with the moon, and is used to denote both its disjunction and conjunction. From an astrological point of view, excepting a few references to the sun, there are twenty-eight references to the moon (Spurgeon, p. 260). According to Spurgeon, there are only eight references to “moonlight” in Shakespeare and six out of these occur in this play (p.260). In light of Spurgeon’s first finding it is very interesting to note that twenty-eight is a quaternity of seven. Thus in a lunar context the play is a syzygy in action. Turning it into psychological language, the anima in men and animus in women are not functioning properly in Dream, and the play grows out of this fundamental tension. The moon is an archetypal anima symbol, and its twenty-eight images in the play is a clear poof that something goes wrong with the anima in Dream. Hence Titania says, “Therefore the moon, the governor of floods/Pale in her anger, washes all the air/That rheumatic diseases do abound” (II. i. 103-104). In the given passage the moon appears angry, revengeful, with all its terrible aspects, causing floods and infectious diseases, that is, the terrifying-mother-aspect of the anima appearing as the moon.

That is why the moon is the central image in the opening dialogue between Theseus and Hippolyta (I. i. 1-16). Theseus and Hippolyta make a couple, a man and a woman, making a quaternity as can be seen in the following figure.

Figure 1

The figure shows that man, which is the conscious personality of male, is influenced by the anima, which is the unconscious “syzygial” pair of man, while the conscious woman, on the same count, is affected by the animus. This four-sided relationship opens before us a whole world of “syzygies.” In a way, we have to pass through this complex world of psychological relationship for becoming what and who we are. As Jung says:

It is a psychological fact that as soon as we touch on these identifications, we enter the realm of the syzygies, the paired opposites, where the one is never separated from the other, and its antithesis. It is a field of personal experience, which leads directly to the experience of individuation, the attainment of the self (Basic writings of C. G. Jung, p. 370, emphasis mine).

Besides conscious/unconscious, self/Self and anima/animus, other pairs of psychological opposites in Jungian psychology are ego/shadow, persona/shadow, thinking/feeling, sensation/intuition, and introversion/extraversion.31 The play dramatizes these opposites in a highly complex artistic environment. It embodies the persona of Athens, inflated with its domineering attitude of rationalism and strict adherence to the law. From a Jungian point of view, the more inflated the persona, the more aggressive the shadow becomes (Whitmont, p. 51). Sharp’s remarks are also relevant here:

The extravert’s adjustment to objective reality effectively prevents low-powered subjective impulses from reaching consciousness. The repressed impulses, however, do not thereby lose their energy; only since they are unconscious they manifest in primitive and archaic ways. As more and more subjective moods are suppressed or ignored, the build-up of unconscious energy works to undermine the conscious attitude (Personality Types, p. 41).

This inflation is compensated for not only by the Fairies,32 but also by the linguistic and laughable lapses of Bottom, a poor English weaver onto whom the Athenian persona projects its shadow. This is why Puck calls the actors “rude mechanicals” (III. i. 9). It is not a casual cry of a young boy but the voice of the Athenian persona projecting its undeveloped and repressed side onto the actors, symbolising repressed feeling and intuition. Oberon, as a male fairy, represents Hippolyta’s animus, on the one hand, and Theseus’ shadow on the other. Similarly, Titania, being female, also functions on two opposite levels: as Theseus’ anima and Hippolyta’s shadow. Puck, being a trickster archetype, relates to the shadow, the anima, and the animus. On another level, Theseus represents what Jung calls “directed thinking,” a habit of mind given to planning, knowing, governing, and controlling (Jung, Symbols of Transformation, pp. 7-31). That means that his feeling function is not responding properly, which has its roots in his adventures and conquests as general—a position which always involves “directed thinking” in each and every sense of the expression. His feeling side is so underdeveloped that in the very face of his bride he boasts of conquering her with his “sword” (I. i. 16).

Habits or behaviours are like addictions and therefore require heroism to give up. To give up an old habit and to adjust oneself to a new one is a painful experience. Theseus also has to reshuffle the contents of his mind to enter a new level of understanding for establishing a mature relationship with Hippolyta. In the dream mode, Titania, being Theseus’ anima, also represents the repressed and undeveloped parts of his feeling function.

The case of Hippolyta does not differ so much from that of Theseus’. Being a commander of warring women, she has also developed her thinking function. Her animus is overdeveloped, to the neglect of her conscious self. Both have lost contact with their inherent archetypal opposites. Compared to the young lovers, Theseus and Hippolyta suffer from mid-life crises. They have to re-integrate their detached “selves” to be able to function in a balanced way in their conscious life. Being an extravert, Theseus depends on senses:33 “Or in the night, imagining some fear/how easy is a bush suppos’d a bear” (V. ii. 21-22). Apparently there is nothing wrong with his remark. In fact, that is how things look at night; we mistake one for another. The problem is that Theseus is sure that the “bush” appearing as bear will always be bush, not a bear, which shows his dependence on senses. This makes Theseus into what Jung calls extraverted-thinking type personality, with sensation as his auxiliary function.34 Interestingly, the attendant fairies, which are four in number, are named after plants and herbs—objects that appeal more to senses. This, in a way, further suggests that the dream-mode reduces the senses to things of no high value.

Contrary to Theseus and Hippolyta, Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena are adolescents, and are in the weaning stage. They are unconsciously looking for the equivalents of their respective parents. They have to pass through the stage of strong projections before establishing mature relationships as adults. This is why both couples go through the love potion scene, which is symbolic of their getting in touch with the unconscious. In the dream-mode Oberon and Titania appear as a married couple, evoking union of opposites on the archetypal level, and suggesting that they are experienced and mature, i.e., past their projection-making stage. Hence Oberon describes Cupid’s wayward shooting of arrows as his past experience/remembrance (I. ii. 154-174). That is to say, he is past his youthful stage of life, symbolized in myths as Cupid. The love potion, which Oberon and Puck use, brings changes in the attitude of the young lovers, and is symbolic of the urge to make projections. This is why, while under its influence, the young lovers keep shifting partners in the forest.

Despite being insignificant, the amateur players of rustic origins—Bottom and his friends—have their own way of producing a play.35 Though rustics, they know how to select a story and how to prepare it for acting it out on the stage. If we associate the courtly characters with the conscious mind, the rustics directly belong to the unconscious from a symbolic perspective. In a culture given to realism and rationalism, which are overtly associated with thinking and sensation, as in Theseus’Athens, the opposite functions (feeling and intuition)36 remain undeveloped or undifferentiated, which appear through Bottom’s infantilism and blunt literalism in a rather ironic fashion. That is why Bottom mixes up things with no sense of differentiation: for example, he says “generally” instead of “individually” (I. ii. 3) or that he can play any role in the play they are planning to act out (I. ii. 46, 63). In a speech, Bottom claims to make a ballad of his “dream,” and to recite it at “her” death, a feminine pronoun qualifying a male referent, the duke (IV. i. 216-217). Similarly, Bottom’s subversion of the senses seems to be a counterattack from the intuition, the inferior function in the given context (IV. i. 210-213). The rehearsal of Bottom’s play in the woods, away from Athens, is symbolic of the displacement of the feeling function. Some of the visions that Bottom sees directly relate to his “superiors” as if to compensate for the lack of sensing things beforehand without any connecting medium. I quote from Jung to further establish my argument. He says:

My definition then is that intuition is a perception, by way or means of the unconscious. This is a very important function, because when you live under primitive conditions, a lot of unpredictable things are likely to happen. There you need your intuition because you cannot possibly tell by your sense perceptions, what is going to happen. For instance, you are walking in primeval forests….You can also have an intuition—this constantly happens—in our jungle called a city (in Evans, pp.100-101).

Bottom and his friends are also in the forest or a “jungle” of sorts to use Jung’s word. The forest stands for the unconscious. That means Bottom’s ideas for the play come directly from this primitive darkness. In this sense, Bottom, weaving from the opposite end, is a visionary artist, intuitively reacting not only to the prevailing situation in Athens, but also to such situations for times to come. This makes him into a mystic of sorts in the guise of a poor weaver; his paradoxes ring with mystical insight.37 Bottom and his friends are poor and work on the stables of the Athenians. They have been relegated into the background. To put it more accurately, the Athenians, in their pursuit of fitting themselves to the established Athenian persona of being law-abiding, strict, and rational, have turned their back on the intuitive aspect of their personality.

Bottom, while assigning roles to his peers, says to Quince, the script-writer and director, “What is Pyramus? A lover or a tyrant” (I. ii. 19)! Intuitively responding to the central issue of Theseus/Hippolyta relationship, Bottom suggests how they have to ensure that Pyramus is one or the other, which in a way is a comment on Theseus, who, in his conscious mode, is a lover, but is dominated by the unconscious tyrant who wants to “win” Hippolyta’s heart “with his sword” (I. i. 16). Bottom, in his irrationally rational way, points to the crux of the issue. In their blind pursuit of their conscious personas, the Athenians have lost touch with their unconscious. No wonder, Egeus insists on the law of Athens being implemented when Hermia insists on marrying Lysander against her father’s wishes. Egeus sees Hermia’s disobedience from the point of view of a law-abiding Athenian; not from that of father’s.

This discussion helps us see the connection among the contents of the title. Apparently, the title suggests something light, short, simple, boyish, and ethereal, but the contents of the play evoke heaviness, complexity, and persistence. That is to say, under the guise of something light and comic, Shakespeare presents something serious and inherently tragic. The insistence of the Athenians to implement their law favours the order, rigidity, and strictness that are the salient characteristics of characters like Theseus, the political head of the state, and Egeus, the patriarch. If events played out according to the vision of these two, human bonds would be all right on the face of it. Inwardly, however, there would be discontent and resentment that would force the young generation to leave Athens for other places, as Lysander and Hermia do. Thus, in its apparent order would be a chaos that would threaten the very fabric of the Athenian society. And that is the “syzygial” message that a Jungian reading of this play allows. Hidden in the rationality of Theseus and Egeus is irrationality; and there is reason in the illogical rationale of Bottom and company.38 Egeus’ attitude, hardened to the point of no return, does not undergo any psychological transformation, which symbolises an uncompromising persona. Theseus, however, does undergo certain changes as far his extraverted attitude is concerned. He experiences a kind of introversion in a symbolic way and comes to terms with the underdeveloped aspects of his personality.

This study is divided into four chapters, along with a prologue and epilogue.

Chapter I is a study of the play’s paradoxes and paradoxical structures and situations with a view to connecting them symbolically, not only with the larger archetypal patterns, but also with the development of the play in a “syzygial” way. Theseus and Egeus are dominant in the opening scenes of the play and symbolize law and practicality, which is the diurnal side of Dream’s psyche. And not very surprisingly, the diurnal is followed by the nocturnal adventures in the forest, where the Fairies control and (mis)guide the humans.

“Hot Ice I” is the title of Chapter II, which focuses on the dimensions of the relations of the four young lovers. My focus in this chapter is on how their decision to leave Athens for the vernal woods leads to the establishment of a contact with the unconscious, which subsequently helps them acquire self-knowledge and individuation. The two young couples can start and consolidate their durable relationships based on mutual understanding only when they know who they are, for themselves and in themselves. They need to emerge from the unconscious, integrate the contents of the unconscious, and adjust themselves to their environment.

Chapter III is titled “Hot Ice II” and looks at Theseus and Hippolyta, who have moved away from their unconscious. In their conscious attempt to adjust themselves to the norms and mores of the society, they have turned their back on the unconscious. Like the two young couples, Theseus and Hippolyta need to re-establish their contact with the unconscious and re-emerge as an individuated couple that can effectively deal with their mid-life crises. The forest, its fantastic creatures, and Bottom’s lapses function as symbolic encounters with their unconscious. Their interaction with the world of the woods and its denizens helps them re-establish their contact with the unconscious; hence the new balance in their psychic attitudes, which they previously lacked.

The changes in the mythological base of some of the characters point to the androgynous processes in Dream from a Jungian point of view. For example, Hermes/Mercury a trickster-god in mythology, and the founder of alchemy—a male figure—is transformed into Hermia. And from the opposite end, Demeter, a goddess associated with the underworld, turns into Demetrius. The subject relates to the notion of syzygy, and, in turn, to quaternity.39 Chapter IV, “Cold Fire,” explores the “syzygial” patterns in the play.

The Epilogue shows that the “syzygial” patterns and processes in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream draw our attention to certain fundamental problems and issues in and around us. Shakespeare is an artist, looking at life as a question with many possible answers, and mine is an answer from a Jungian point of view to the questions he raises in the play.


1William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, (ed.), Harold F. Brooks, gen. eds. Richard Proudfoot, Ann Thompson, and David Scott Kastan, The Arden Shakespeare (London: Methuen, 1979). Henceforth the play is referred to as, “Dream.” All subsequent references are to this edition, and are parenthetically incorporated in the work with act, scene and line numbers respectively.

2 Jung uses the term syzygy to suggest the contra-sexual opposites as anima in man and animus in woman. Both anima and animus are archetypes, which are always polar in nature and can be accessed only through dreams, legends, fairytales and mythologies. Archetypes have C.G. Jung, “The Syzygy countless variations according to different human cultures and circumstances. For details, see: Anima and Animus,” The Portable Jung, trans. R. F. C. Hull, (eds.), Herbert Read, et al (New York: Penguin Books, 1971), pp. 148-162; Jung, “Anima and Animus,” Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, CW 7 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966), pp.188-211. Henceforth Collected Works will appear in the text as CW followed by volume and page numbers respectively. Also see, Emma Jung, Animus and Anima (Zurich: Spring Publications, 1957); Mary Ann Mattoon, Jungian Psychology in Perspective (New York: The Free Press, 1981), pp. 95-96, pp.84-87; Edward C. Whitmont, The Symbolic Quest (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 185-200, 201-215; Marie-Louise Von Franz, Anima and Animus in Fairy Tales, (ed.), Daryl Sharp (Toronto: Toronto Press, 2002); Frieda Fordham, An Introduction to Jungian Psychology (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1966), pp. 114-115. The study of archetypes has become a discipline in itself. For example, see James Hillman, Archetypal Psychology (Dallas: Spring Publications, 1983). For reference to literature, see C. S. Lewis, “Myth,” An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961); Bruce W. Young, “Mythic and Archetypal Criticism,” The Critical Experience, (ed.), David Cowles (Iowa: Kendall Publishing Company, 1994), 60-85; Wilbur Scott, ‘Introduction to the archetypal Approach,” Five Approaches of Literary Criticism (London: Colliuer-Macmillan, 1962), pp. 247-252.

3 The issue of satire raised by Johnson seems to continue in Muir, and Rickert. See K. Muir “Shakespeare as Parodist,” Notes and Queries, CXCIX (1954), pp.467-468; Edith Rickert, Political Propaganda and Satire in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Modern Philology 21(1923-24): pp.53-87, pp.133-154.

4 However, Zitner finds the play intensely realistic. See S. P. Zitner “The Worlds of A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” South Atlantic Quarterly LIX (1960), pp.397-403.

5 Blake’s paintings from Dream, including that of Bottom’s and Titania’s, have generated interesting debate among art-critics: see, for example, W.W. Merchant, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Visual Recreation” in Early Shakespeare 3 (London: Edward Arnold Publisher, 1961), pp.165-186. Furthermore, Fuseli, another painter of the same age, also painted Bottom and Titania. For further information on paintings based on Dream see A Midsummer Night’s Dream, retrieved on11-12-2007 from <http://pages. unibas.ch/shine/linkscommand wf.> (last updated Oct, 2003). See for details relating to Dreams—paintings based on it, adaptations, films, and any relevant information—A Midsummer Night’s Dream, retrieved from web on 10-12-2007 from <http://www.pages. unibas.ch/shine/linkscommandwf.html> (last updated October 2003).

6 Freud’s “Id” is closer in its implications to Jung’s “personal unconscious,” functioning more or less like a Recycle Bin in the psyche of an individual with the difference that its contents cannot be retrieved easily. For the theoretical differences between Freud and Jung, see Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar, The Theories of Human Psyche of Freud and Jung, retrieved on 10-12-2007 from <http://www.imt. co.il/articles.htm> (nd); and for a further immediate reading of all Jungian terms see Daryl Sharp, Jung Lexicon, accessed on 11-12-2007 from <http://www.Jung_lexicon.shtml.htm>(May 2002).

7 Jung’ collective unconscious contains archetypes which are pre-existent and are shared by every human individual irrespective of geographical, political, religious, cultural, and historical boundaries. Moreover, it is potentially infinite, ever in flux but compensatory or complementary in its function. Compared to it, Freud’s Id relates to the personal history of an individual, rooted in infantile repressions, and has its connection with Jung’s Personal Unconscious. For details see C. G. Jung “The Archetypes of the Unconscious,” (Two Essays, CW 7,( pp.90-113); C. G. Jung, The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings, CW 18 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976); F. G. Wickes, The Inner World of Man (New York: Frederick Unger, 1948; W. A. Mambert, and B. F. Foster, Exploring Your Unconscious Mind (New York: Cornerstone, 1977); Jolund Jacobi, Masks of the Soul, trans. Ean Begg (Grand Roads, MI: Eerdman Publishing, 1976; Aniela Jaffe, “The Unconscious and the Archetype,” Myth of Meaning (New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1971), pp.14-24; Fordham “Archetypes of the Unconscious,” Introduction to Jungian Psychology, pp.47-48; Mattoon, Jungian Psychology in Perspective, pp.248-249; H. Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious (New York: Basic Books, 1970); Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space (New York: Harper and Row, 1988); Mercia Eliade, Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries, trans. Philip Mairet (New York: Harper, Colophon Books, 1975; Mercia Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, trans. W. R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971).

8 There is no consistency in writing the two words, “self” and “Self.” However, it is better to use the former, i.e., “self,” for the individual/personal aspect (as Mattoon does), and “Self” for its collective/transpersonal aspect. As such, the “self” relates to the ego and consciousness, and the “Self” refers to what some would call “God” or Hegel’s “Absolute Spirit.” The “Self,” according to Jung is symbolically represented through circles, mandalas, or squares, suggesting its inherent urge for wholeness through integration of opposites. In a nutshell, the following remarks of Jung quoted in Whitmont are important: “as a totality, the self by definition is always a complexio oppositorum” (253). For details, see Jaffe, “The Numinosity of the Self, ” Myth of Meaning, pp. 42-43; “The Self,” The Symbolic Quest (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp.216-230; Mattoon, “Self,’ Jungian Psychology in Perspective, pp.31-32; Harry A. Wilmer, “Self,” Practical Jung: Nuts and Bolts of Jungian Psychotherapy (Wilmette: Chiron Publications, 1987), pp. 60-84; Edward F. Edinger, Exploring the Self in Jung’s Aion (Toronto: Inner City Books, 1996).

9 In the Jungian model there are always opposite pairs, and the idea runs throughout his works, at times self-evident, at others strongly implied, in a given context. Here, I quote a typical passage that leads us to the nucleus of his analytical theory: “Life is born only the spark of opposites” (Two Essays, CW 7, 53-54). The list of pairs which Jung gives in order to explain this point are: analysis/synthesis; ascent/descent; chaos/order; classic/romantic; conscious/unconscious; culture/nature; diastole/systole; Eros/Phobos; good/evil; heaven/hell; high/low; hot/cold; idealism/materialism; inside/outside; introvert/extravert/; love/hate; megalomania/inferiority; mortal/immortal; rational/irrational; real/ imaginary; reflection/action; subject/object; vice/virtue; youth/age (Two Essays, CW 7,337). For details see C. G. Jung, Patterns of Behaviour and Archetypes, (ed.), V. S. de Laszlo (New York: Modern Library, 1959); E. Zolla, Archetypes: The Persistence of Unifying Patterns (New York: Harcourt, 1981); June Singer, Androgyny: The Opposites Within (New York: Nicolus-Hays, 2000); J. Singer, Boundaries of the Soul: The Practice of Jung’s Psychology (Garen City, NY: Double Day, 1972); and W. A. Shellbourne, Mythos and Logos in The Thought of C. G. Jung (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988).

10 Gary Jay Williams explains the events in the play as Our Moonlight Revels. See Gary Jay Williams, Our Moonlight Revels (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1997).

11 In his discussion, Schanzer also points out how the neo-Hegelian critics do not apply their theory of opposites to the play. Schanzer’s tone is a bit lopsided; the play does develop in a Hegelian way, as we see in Chapter I of this work.

12 The phrase “king of order” clearly suggests that Theseus is fixed and one-sided in his attitude, and such an attitude has to be compensated for by the unconscious. In this regard, Jung says that an extreme conscious content is compensated by a powerful opposite reaction from the unconscious. For example, Jung says: “The unconscious insinuates itself in the form of a snake if the conscious mind is afraid of the compensating tendency of the unconscious…” (Symbols of Transformation, CW 5, p.379). Also see Whitmont, Symbolic Quest, pp. 15-40.

13 The Romantics eulogize imagination as the motivating force of human creations. For example, see, S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, Watson edition (1817; London, Routlege, 1975); J. Engell, The Creative Imagination: Enlightenment to Romanticism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981); and A. O. Rotty, “Imagination and Power” in her Mind in Action: Essays in the Philosophy of Mind (Boston, MA.: Beacon Press, 1988). Similarly, Jung calls it “fantasy–thinking…the language the unconscious uses to embody its demands” (Symbols of Transformation, pp. 18-20). Jungians also acknowledge it as the image-making faculty, responsible for projections in humans to compensate for the fixations of the ego-world. As Whitmont says, “The images arise as carriers of messages which are lacking—at times dangerously lacking—in consequence of the one-sided views and convictions of consciousness, the rising pressure of images in the defence reaction of a self-regulating, balancing psychic system…” (Symbolic Quest, p.27).

14 Also see Northrop Frye, A Natural Perspective: The Revelation of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance (New York: Columbia UP, 1965).

15 For the theme of gender-oriented criticism, see Sherley Nelson Garner, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: ‘Jack shall have Jill:/Nought shall go ill,’” Woman’s Studies 9 (1981): pp.47-63; Marshal, David, “Exchanging Visions: Reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” English Literary History 49 (1982): 543-575; Valerie Traub, “The (In) Significance of Lesbian Desire in Early Modern England,” Erotic Politics: Desire on the Renaissance Stage, (ed.), Susan Zimmerman (New York: Routledge, 1992), pp.150-169; Douglas E.Green, “Preposterious Pleasures: Queer Theories and A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Critical Essays, (ed.), Dorothea Kehler (London: Routledge, 1998), pp.369-400.

16 Jung says that in youth we have to “wean” ourselves from the unconscious, a hard task; and in the middle age we have to re-unite with it so that the psychological journey may complete its cycle, a harder one. See chapters III and IV of this work.

17 Greenfield opposes the Freudian analyses, and reads the play from an anti-Freudian perspective. See Thelma Greenfield, “Our Nightly Madness: Shakespeare’s Dream without the Interpretation of Dreams,” A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Critical Essays, (ed.), Dorothea Kehler (London: Routledge, 2001), pp.300-331.

18 See Edward Berry, Shakespeare’s Comic Rites (London: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp.41-42, pp.71-72, pp.76-77, pp.133-136, pp.158-159, pp. 190-191.

19 There are Marxist and Structuralist readings of the play; Elliot Krieger, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” A Marxist Studies of Shakespeare’s Studies (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1979), pp.37-69; M. E. Comtois, “The Hardiness of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ” Theatre Journal 32 (1980): pp.305-311. There are also racial and post-colonial studies: for example, see Margo Hendricks, “‘Obscured by Dreams’: Race, Empire, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Shakespeare’s Quarterly 47 (1996): pp.37-60; Michael Schneider, “Bottom’s Dream, the Lion’s Roar, and Hostility of Class Differences in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” From the Bard to Broadway, (ed.), Karelisa V. Hartigan (Latham, MD: University Press of America, 1987), pp.191-212. The contextual/(new) historicist approach appears in different guises: see, for example, Louis Adrian Montrose, A Kingdom of Shadows,” The Theatrical City: Culture, Theatre, and Politics in London 1576-1649, (ed.), David L. Smith, Richard Strier, and David Bevington (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp.68-86; Marcia McDonald, “Bottom’s Space: Historicising Comic Theory and Practice in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Acting Funny: Comic Theory and Practice in Shakespeare’s Plays (Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 1994), pp.85-108; and Annabel Patterson “Bottoms Up: Festive Theory in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Renaissance Papers (1988): pp.25-39.

20 For example, Mangan says:

Nor does it [the process] stop here: Even at a single historical moment a play like A Midsummer Night’s Dream lives a multiplicity of simultaneous lives, both on the stage and on the page. On a single night it may exist as, for example, a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon, a school play, a local repertory production, an under-ended small-scale tour, a Theatre-in-Education show, an outdoor staging in a stately home, the central piece of a theatrical or literary festival, or an amateur production in a village hall. It may be read by an undergraduate working towards a degree in English, by an actor preparing to play a part, or by a retired civil servant he reads to beguile his leisure hours; by a man or a woman, a radical or a conservative. It may be read in England or America, India or South Africa, Poland or Jamaica, in a school or hospital, a hotel room or a prison hall. Is it the “same” text that is read in all these cases? There can only be a paradoxical answer to this question, for if one version of “common-sense” replies that yes, the text is more or less the same whatever the conditions of its reception, another version of common-sense immediately replies that in each of the cases of the above the experience of the text will be different, sometimes radically so (p.120).

Michael Mangan, A Preface to Shakespeare’s Comedies (London: Longman, 1996).

21 Jung uses this term for explaining the principle of changing from an extreme psychological position into its opposite. He says:

Old Heraclitus, who was indeed a very great sage, discovered the most marvellous of all psychological laws: the regulative function of opposites. He called it enantiodromia, a running contrariwise, by which he meant that sooner or later everything runs into its opposite (Two Essays, CW 7, p.74).

22 There are other interesting studies based on the play. Irving Woolfe uses Titania’s speech on disastrous floods to validate Dr. Vilikovsky’s theory of Quanta-volution. See Irving Wolfe, “Shakespeare and Vilokovsky: Recollection of Fallen sky,” accessed on 11—12-2007 from <http://www.grazian_archive.com/index.htm> (nd). Another study is by Bruce Clarke who reads Dream, its paradoxes and metamorphoses, to bring it into conformity with that of “Systems Theory” as applied to Cybernetics. Clarke says:

A growing body of scholarly work is rethinking the shape and evolution of the relations among science, technology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, history, literature, and the arts, through cybernetic terms. What could A Midsummer Night’s Dream have to tell us about such things? For one, it is a play that plays upon perceptual and social paradoxes, and according to the seminal cyberneticist Heinz von Foerster, “In cybernetics you learn that paradox is not bad for you, but it is good for you, if you take the dynamics of the paradox seriously” (Franchi et al). By looking at the ways that this Shakespeare text looks at the forms observing systems use to operate, I hope to interest both literature and systems people in a neo-cybernetic approach to narrative and dramatic observation (website). See Bruce Clarke, “Paradox and the Form of Metamorphosis: Systems Theory in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” accessed on 12-12-2007 from <http://www.MSND.htm> (2005).

Clarke’s assumption is interesting in the sense that it reveals the potential energy of Dream to provide substantial grounds to computer scientists to fit in its paradoxical structures with that of a purely technological system. Clarke, reading the play as a visionary dream opens a fresh field for others to follow. Through his study, Clarke not only presents a unifying hypothesis but also places our play in a central position whose branches spread in many directions without moving apart from the roots.

23 It would be interestingly relevant here to mention that Clifton Snider borrows his title from Shakespeare for reading literature from a Jungian point of view. See Clifton Snider, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On: A Jungian Interpretation of Literature (Wilmette, IL: Chiron, 1991). For Jungian readings of Shakespeare, see Herbert R. Coursen, The Compensatory Psyche: A Jungian Approach to Shakespeare (Lanham: University Press of America, 1986); Alex Aronson, Psyche and Symbol in Shakespeare (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972); Grenville Cuyler, Shakespeare and Jung (Dissertation: Ann Arbor, 1989).

24 In deviance of the principle of Trinity Jung emphasizes the principle of quaternity, the language of the Self urging for integration of opposites and wholeness. Mattoon says: “Still another one Jung’s unorthodox conclusions that the Christian Trinity is incomplete; wholeness is a quaternity” (Jungian Psychology in Perspective 201).

25 Jung’s collective unconscious suggests infinity; there seems to be nothing beyond infinity. Perhaps the writer means to say that God is transcendent not immanent, and Bottom’s “rare vision” hints at that kind of experience.

26 See Mira Wiegmann, The Staging and Transformation of Gender Archetypes in A Midsummer Night's Dream, M. Butterfly, and A Kiss of the Spider Woman (Publisher: Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003).

27 Here the question that comes to mind is why I follow the Jungian vision to analyze a Shakespearean text. First and foremost, it teaches one what it is to be human, further postulating that to be human is to know consciously what one is, one’s merits and demerits before one identifies oneself with great heroes or projecting one’s dark side onto the Other. It is important to note that humans, under the pressure of existentialism and deconsturctionism, are doubtful whether there is any value, meaning and purpose in life; such theories are do not tend to look at the bright sides of things. In such a situation, Jung calls for meaningful life in a meaningful cosmos against all odds and trying circumstances. Jung admits that there are darker sides to our existence, but he also informs that it is the darker sides from which springs the light of light, as day from night. The word meaning recurs in all his works, and gives us a hope to live by. For example, he says:

We should do far better to realize that the tragic counter-play between inside and outside…represents at bottom, the energetics of the life process, the polar tension that is necessary for self-regulation. However different, to all intents and purposes, these opposing forces may be, their fundamental meaning and desire is the life of the individual (Two Essays, CW 7, p.196).

That is why many works dealing with Jungian themes bear the word “meaning” in their titles. For example, see C. G. Jung, "The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man," Civilization in Transition, trans. R. F. C. Hull (New York: Pantheon Books, 1964); Marie-Louise von Franz, The Psychological Meaning of Redemption Motifs in Fairytales (Toronto, Inner City Books, 1980) Nancy J. Dougherty and Jacqueline J. West, The Matrix and Meaning of Character : An Archetypal and Developmental Approach (London: Routledge2007); D. Stephenson Bond, Living Myth: Personal Meaning as a Way of Life (Boston: Shambala, 1993); Calvin S. Hall, The Meaning of Dreams (New York: Harper & Row, 1953); Samuel H. Shaffer, A Thread of Meaning : Depth psychology, Work, and Vocation (Carpinteria, California: Pacifica Graduate Institute, 1999); Barbara J. Pannoni, The Broken Chalice: Containing and Transforming Opposites in the Quest for Meaning (Carpinteria, California: Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2004); I. Galdston, “Job, Jung and Freud: An Essay on the Meaning of life,” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 34, 12 (Dec 1958): pp.769-84.

28 No other title of Shakespeare’s evokes opposites so promptly as Dream. What would be the opposite of Twelfth Night, which has its proper meaning in the Christian culture of England, and it is the numerical value of the first word in the Christian culture that makes the shades of its meaning easily understandable to its readers. That means it is narrow in its imaginative application. That is why a secondary title, As You Will, is placed beside it to make it more secular, providing space for polarity of perspectives. Other titles such as, Winter’s Tale, providing a kind of verbal opposite to “Summer’s Dream”, lacks “night” and its rich symbolism. Two Gentlemen of Verona sounds very prosaic and a bit satirical compared to the poetical beauty and lyrical spontaneity of the title under consideration. Another title is As You Like It; it is of conversational in origin, sounding as if to convince the reader for a certain point of view, lacking in the imaginative richness of Dream. All is Well That Ends Well and Much Ado about Nothing are proverbial, having their direct appeal for the English readers, and seem to be predictable compared to the ambiguity of the play we are discussing. The Merchant of Venice evokes business, commerce, trade, money and profit, confining the dramatic “space” to a specific locale. Another title, Measure for Measure, being legalistic in content, sounds practical in its application compared to the theoretical possibilities of a “dream”. The story of Taming of the Shrew has to be told to some one (if he or she is not a feminist) before she or he can grasp its comedic content, other wise the “Shrew” may be taken for a horse, dog or lion, and its opposite “Detaming of the Simple” sounds too literal to trigger symbolic meanings. The only title, having the word “comedy” in it is The Comedy of Errors, has to be explained to someone before he or she may be able to know the generic use of comedy in English literature. The next play is Love’s Labour Lost, sounding socialistic, points to a common denominator (potential tragedies) in all comedies, does not have the symbolic shades of a “summer”, “night” and “dream”. The narrowing of “space” in The Merry Wives of Windsor to a particular locality makes it more appreciable (like its theoretical opposite The Sad Husbands of London) to those who have some background knowledge of Windsor, otherwise it loses its direct appeal to the imagination. The only title that can compete in its paradoxical meanings and rich symbolism with our title is The Tempest, sharing many inter-textual themes with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, especially the supernatural world. However, tempests do not occur everyday, are incidental in nature, unlike “night”, which we observe daily in most parts of the globe. It has its clearly defined poles almost in every culture—evening and morning.

For Shakespeare’s works other than A Midsummer Night’s Dream, see The Riverside Shakespeare, (ed.), G. Blackmore Evans, et al, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

29 The study of dreams on the academic level begins with Freud and his theory that dreams are the language of repressed sexuality, and his theory has generated a chain of dream studies. However, his co-worker Adler does not agree with him as far as his theory of infantile sexuality is concerned. Adler thinks that the basic urge in humans is that of power, and any suppression of this urge may lead to inferiority complex or in case of inflation to superiority complex. Jung does not agree with both, theorising that the Self appears in dreams to compensate for the attitudes of the waking life. Jung’s greatest contribution is the discovery of the collective unconscious shared by all humans, from the most primitive to the most enlightened. For details see Sigmund Freud, On the Interpretations of Dreams, trans. James Strachey (1929; New York: Avon Books, 1965); Alfred Adler, “Early Recollections and Dreams,” The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler, (eds.), Heinz and Rowa Ansbacher (NY: Basic Books, 1956); C.G. Jung, Seminar on Dream Analysis (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984); C.G. Jung, “The practical use of dream analysis,” The Practical Use of Dream Analysis, CW 16 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), pp.139-161; C.G. Jung, The Structure of Dynamics of the Psyche, trans. R.F.C. Hull (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960); C.G. Jung, The Symbolic Life, CW 18, trans . R. F. C. Hull (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953); C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, (ed.)` Aniela Jaffé, trans. Richard and Clara Winston (London: Collins and Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963); C.G. Jung, “On the Nature of Dreams,” CW 8 (London: Routledge, 1991), pp.281-297 ); Mircea Eliade, Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries, trans. Philip Mairet (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1975); C.G. Jung , The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams (Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1990); J. Fosshage, “The Psychological Function of Dreams: A Revised Psychoanalytic Perspective,” Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought 6 (New York University Press, 1983), pp.641-669; William Oliver Stevens, The Mystery of Dreams (New York: Mead, 1949); Jon Tolaas, “The Puzzle of Psychic Dreams,” Dreamtime & Dreamwork, (ed.), Stanley Krippner, (Los Angles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1990), pp.261-270; Montague Ullman, Stanley Krippner and Alan Vaughan, Dream Telepathy (New York: Macmillan, 1973); Jackson S. Lincoln, The Dream in Primitive Cultures (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1935); Alvin R. Mahrer, Dream Work in Psychotherapy and Self-change (New York: W. W. Norton, 1989); Deborah J. Hillman, “Dream work and field work: Linking Cultural Anthropology and the Current Dream Work Movement,” The Variety of Dream Experience, (ed.), Montague Ullman and Claire Limmer, (New York: Continuum, 1988); Rosalind D. Cartwright, Night Life: Explorations in Dreaming (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977); E. Fromm, The Forgotten Language: An Introduction to the Understanding of Dreams, Fairy Tales and Myths (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1951); Gregory J Berry, Dream Analysis : Thinking Beyond Jung (Hunters Hill [N.S.W.]: Cranset, 1995); Peter Homans and LeRoy Aden, The Dialogue between Theology and Psychology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968); Marie-Louise von Franz, Dreams (Boston, Mass.: Shambhala, 1991); Ole Vedfelt, The Dimensions of Dreams: the Nature, Function, and Interpretation of Dreams (New York : Fromm International, 1999); Marie-Louise von Franz and Fraser Boa, The Way of the Dream (Toronto: Windrose Films, 1988); Mary Ann Mattoon, The Theory of Dream Interpretation according to C.G. Jung: An Exposition and Analysis (Washington: V.H. Winston, 1978); Stephen Segaller and Merrill Berger, The Wisdom of the Dream : the world of C.G. Jung (Boston : Shambhala, 1989); Maria F Mahoney, The Meaning in Dreams and Dreaming: the Jungian Viewpoint (New York, Citadel Press, 1966); James A. Hall, Patterns of Dreaming: Jungian Techniques in Theory and Practice (Boston, Mass.: Shambhala , 1991); James A Hall, Jungian Dream Interpretation : a Handbook of Theory and Practice (Toronto, Canada : Inner City Books, 1983); Mary Ann Mattoon, Understanding Dreams (Dallas, Texas: Spring Publications, 1984); Massimo Giannoni, “Jung's Theory of Dream and the Relational Debate,” Psychoanalytic Dialogues 13, 4 (2003): pp.605-630; Robert B. Clarke, The Four Gold Keys: Dreams, Transformation of the Soul, and the Western Mystery Tradition (Charlottesville, VA : Hampton Roads Pub., 2002).

30 According to Jung, the “bull” is also associated with snake, father-symbol, fertility symbol, fiery god, feminine significance, as hero, messenger of gods. See Jung, Symbols of Transformation, CW 5 (pp.278, pp.384, pp.103, pp.326, pp.431, pp.248). In Jungian psychology the terms “masculine” and “feminine” do not refer to the biological differences of man and woman, but are used to suggest psychic energies irrespective of gender differences.

31 Extraversion/introversion refers to the flow or movement of psychic energy: the outward flow (toward objects) is called extraversion, and the inward flow introversion. For example, Sharp says:

Introversion and extraversion are psychological modes of adaptation. In the former, the movement of energy is toward the inner world. In the later, interest is directed toward the outer world. In one case the subject (inner reality) and in the other the object (things, other people, outer reality) is of primary importance (Personality Types, p. 13).

In an oversimplified way, artists, mystics and philosophers like Plato are introverts, and scientists or thinkers like Newton and Aristotle are extraverts.

32 In this work the expression “Fairies” refer to Titania, Oberon, Puck and the attendant ones.

33 There are two main attitude types in Jung, the extraverted and the introverted. In turn, the attitude types are further categorised according to the combination of the four functions; thinking/feeling and sensation/ intuition. Thinking and feeling functions are called rational functions, and the remaining two the irrational functions. The general trend is that a human individual develops one function, called his or her superior function with an auxiliary function from either of the two opposite functions. In an extraverted- sensation type, the sensation function is highly developed or differentiated, with the thinking as auxiliary one, as in Theseus’ case. In the above-mentioned type, data received from senses are readily reliable, and the faculty of intuition goes into the background, or remains repressed to rebound through dreams and visions. For details, see Jung “The Problem of the Attitude-Type,” Two Essays, CW 7, pp.41-63; Angelo Spoto Jung’s Typology In Perspective (Illinois: Chiron Publications, 1995); Frieda Fordham “Psychological Types,” An Introduction to Jung’s Psychology (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1966), pp.29-46; Daryl Sharp, Personality Types, pp.29-46; Mattoon, pp.2-64.

34 In an extraverted-thinking type, the function is more developed or differentiated (superior), with sensation as an auxiliary one, as in Theseus’ case. In the above-mentioned type, “realism” seems to be the main criterion for judging truths. The data received from the senses are readily reliable, and the faculty of intuition goes into the background, or remains repressed to rebound through dreams and visions. The feeling faculty of such a type also remains undeveloped or less developed.

35 There are studies deducing significant messages for civic life from the “blunders” of Bottom and his company. For examples, see Richard H. Cox, “Shakespeare: Poetic Understanding and Comic Action (A Weaver's Dream),” The Artist and Political Vision, (ed.), Benjamin R. Barber and Michael J. Gargas McGrath (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1982), pp.165-192.

36 In the Jungian model, the four organs of adaptation to the outside world also make opposite pairs: thinking is opposed to feeling, and sensation to intuition. In an ideal situation, the four functions are thought to be developed in a balanced way. In general, one function is found more developed/differentiated than the remaining three. In that case, the auxiliary function comes not from the opposite pole of the more developed or differentiated one, but from the opposite axis. For example, if the thinking function is more developed; the auxiliary function would either be the sensation or intuition. The developed/differentiated function is also called the dominant or superior function, and the undeveloped, underdeveloped or undifferentiated one becomes the inferior side of a personality. See Anglo Spoto “The Functions,” “The Strange Case of the Inferior Function,” Jung’s Typology in Perspective, pp.23-54, pp.75-108; Daryl Sharp, Personality Types; von Franz and Hillman, Lectures on Jung’s Typology (Woodstock, Connecticut: Spring Publications, 1971; Fordham, “Psychological Types,” pp.29-46).

37 Bottom uses paradoxical structures, and paradox is the language of mysticism; for example, Spurgeon quotes the following verse from a Hindu source to sum up the core of mysticism: “There is true knowledge, learn thou it is this/To see one changeless Life in all the lives/and in the separate, one Inseparable”. See Caroline Spurgeon, “introduction,” Mysticism in English Literature, accessed on 12-12-2008 from <http://www.gutnberg.net/1/o/2/ 3/10234 > (April 2004).

38 For the ideas discussed in this section, I am indebted to my advisor, Dr. Nasir Jamal Khattak.

39 The term “syzygy” implies four personalities, two on the conscious level and two on the unconscious one, i.e., the anima in man and the animus in woman, making a quaternity. The implications of Jung’s postulate appear on many book titles: see, for example, Elemire Zolla, The Androgyne: Reconciliation of Male and Female (London: Cross Road Publishing Company, 1959); Pamela Butler, Self-Assertion for Women: A Guide to Become Androgynous (NY: Canfield Press, 1976): June Singer, Androgyny: The Opposites Within (New York: Nicolus-Hays, 2000); Tracy Hardgrave, Androgyny in Modern Literature (London: Macmillan, 2004).