Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by William Shakespearethat can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the major themes in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by Shakespeare in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “A Midsummer Night's Dream” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Role of Magic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
One of the important elements of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the contrast that is established between the “real" world and a world inhabited by fairies, sprites, and other magical beings and forces. In this essay on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you should explore both the divide and the overlap between these two distinct realms and the appearances versus reality of the world these characters inhabit in the play. In doing so, the function of the magical world as a contrast to the “real" world is identified and analyzed. For this argumentative essay on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the writer argues that the primary function of this magical world is to reinforce the idea that love—which is, after all, the subject of the play—is subject to forces that are often beyond the capacity of humans to understand them.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Function of Dreams in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
As the title of Shakespeare’s play alludes, dreams are an important element of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The characters often question whether they are in the dream world or in the waking world, and tend to have difficulty distinguishing between the two. Using a psychoanalytic approach to interpreting the role that dreams play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the writer should examine the various functions of dreams and the psychological value that they have for the characters. It should be argued that dreams serve at least one significant function, namely, that dreams permit the enactment of fantasies that are impossible or difficult to fulfill in real life. This should be a definite argumentative essay with at least one interpretation of the function of dreams in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Frame Narrative of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the reader notices that there is a play within the larger framework (click here for detailed article on this) of the primary play. Much like the functions that the fairy world and dreams play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the function of the secondary play is to establish a contrast and point of comparison between the “real" world and an imagined one. Considered alongside these other comparative and symbolic worlds, the second play constitutes part of a frame narrative that underscores the point that Shakespeare wishes to make about the divide that exists between desire and reality in A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is not merely a device for entertainment, though it does serve that function as well.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Character Analysis in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Hermia
Early in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the reader learns that Hermia is being compelled to marry Demetrius, whom she does not love. Hermia protests the marriage proposal that is being forced upon her, and in a bold and compelling speech, she questions what will happen to her if she defies the order to marry the man who has not captured her heart. Examining this speech and other actions, the writer intends to deveop an argument about Hermia as a feminist prototype. Although other female characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dreamseem to be more important to the play’s development, Hermia represents an interesting character who expands the possibilities of women as agents of and advocates for their own destiny.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5: The Importance of Comic Relief in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Although A Midsummer Night’s Dream has many serious elements and embarks upon an exploration and treatment of some of the most serious of life’s experiences and themes, there is a comic element that is evident and which keeps the reader engaged and this is classified as a comedy. In this essay, the reader analyzes the character of Nick Bottom and explores the function that he plays in injecting comic relief into an otherwise serious play.
For further ideas and insights about these and other themes and meanings in A Midsummer Night's Dream, browse the following articles:
The Significance of the Play Within a Play Structure of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” • A Midsummer Night’s Dream:Analysis of Lines 5-20 of the Epilogue • The Symbol of the Moon in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by Shakespeare • The Role of Disguises in As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream • Appearances versus Reality in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night • The Friendships of Women in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by Shakespeare • The Significance of the Philomel Reference in “Midsummer Night's Dream” •
This list of important quotations from “A Midsummer Night's Dream” will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“I do entreat your grace to pardon me. I know not by what power I am made bold…. But I beseech your grace that I may know the worst that may befall me… if I refuse to marry Demetrius." (I.i.60-61, 64-66)
“Are you sure that we are awake? It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream." (IV.i.,200-202)
“Why then, we are awake. Let’s follow him and by the way let us recount our dreams." (IV.i.208-209)
“The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was." (IV.i.220-224)
“How happy some o’er other some can be!" (I.i.232)
“My Oberon, what visions I have seen! Methought I was enamored of an ass…. How came these things to pass?" (IV.i.76-77,80)
“Things growing are not ripe until their season." (II.ii.124)
“[E]arthlier happy is the rose distilled Than that which withering on the virgin thorn, Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness." (I.i.78-80)
“How can these things in me seem scorn to you, bearing the badge of faith to prove them true?" (III.ii.128-129)
“You do advance your cunning more and more. When truth kills truth, O devilish holy fray!" (III.ii. 130-131)
Source: Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. New York: Washington Square Press, 1993.
The following analytical paper topics are designed to test your understanding of this novel as a whole and to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help you get started.
Loneliness is a dominant theme in Of Mice and Men. Most of the characters are lonely and searching for someone who can serve as a companion or just as an audience. Discuss the examples of character loneliness, the efforts of the characters in search of companionship, and their varying degrees of success.
I. Thesis statement: In his novel Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck depicts the essential loneliness of California ranch life in the 1930s. He illustrates how people are driven to find companionship.
II. Absence of character names
A. The Boss
B. Curley’s wife
III. George and Lennie
A. Consider each other family
B. Lennie described as a kind of pet
C. George’s philosophy about workers who travel alone
D. The Godlike Slim as George’s audience
A. Candy’s attachment to his dog
B. The death of his dog
C. His request to join George and Lennie
D. His need to share his thoughts with Lennie
A. Isolated by his skin color
B. His eagerness for company
C. His desire to share the dream of the farm
VI. Curley’s wife
A. Flirting with the workers
B. Talking to Crooks, Candy, and Lennie in the barn
C. Persuading Lennie to listen to her
VII. The hope and power when people have companions
A. George and Lennie
VIII. The misery of each when companionship is removed
The novel Of Mice and Men is written using the same structure as a drama, and meets many of the criteria for a tragedy. Examine the novel as a play. What conventions of drama does it already have? Does it fit the definition of a tragedy?
I. Thesis statement: Steinbeck designed his novel Of Mice and Men as a drama, more specifically, a tragedy.
II. The novel can be divided into three acts of two chapters (scenes)
A. First act introduces characters and background
B. Second act develops conflicts
C. Third act brings resolution
III. Settings are simple for staging
IV. Most of the novel can be transferred into either dialogue or stage directions
A. Each chapter opens with extensive detail to setting
B. Characters are described primarily in physical terms
V. The novel fits the definition of tragedy
A. The protagonist is an extraordinary person who meets with misery
B. The story celebrates courage in the face of defeat
C. The plot ends in an unhappy catastrophe that could not be avoided
There are many realistic and naturalistic details in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
Discuss how Steinbeck is sympathetic and dispassionate about life through the presentation of realism and naturalism.
I. Thesis Statement: Steinbeck displays a sympathetic and a dispassionate attitude toward man’s and nature’s condition through the use of realistic and naturalistic details.
II. Realism—things as they are
A. Setting of chapter one
B. Description of the bunk house
C. Dialect and slang of the characters
D. Dress and habits of the characters
E. Death as a natural part of life
III. Naturalism—fate at work
A. Animal imagery to describe people
2. Curley’s wife
B. Lower class characters
C. Place names
1. Light and dark
2. Dead mouse and pup
3. Lennie’s desire to leave the ranch
4. Candy’s crippled dog
5. Solitaire card game
E. Symbolism in the last chapter
1. Heron and snake
2. Gust of wind
3. Slim’s comment
The story of George and Lennie lends itself to issues found in the question: Am I my brother’s keeper? Does man have an obligation to take care of his fellow man, and what is the price that must be paid if the answer is “yes” or if the answer is “no”?
I. Thesis Statement: Steinbeck shows that there is a great price to be paid for not being sensitive to the needs of others as well as for taking care of others.
II. The vulnerable ones
III. The heartless ones
A. The boss
C. Curley’s wife
IV. The insensitive one—Carlson
V. The sensitive ones
The American Dream is for every man to have a place of his own, to work and earn a position of respect, to become whatever his will and determination and hard work can make him. In Of Mice and Men the land becomes a talisman, a hope of better things. Discuss the American Dream as presented in the novel.
I. Thesis Statement: For the characters in this novel, the American Dream remains an unfulfilled dream.
II. The dream
A. Owning a home
B. Enjoying freedom to choose
C. Living off the fat of the land
D. Not having to work so hard
E. Having security in old age or sickness
III. The dream’s unrealistic aspects
A. Too good to be true
B. A pipe dream for bindle stiffs
C. Lack of money
IV. George and Lennie’s attitude toward the dream
A. Was a comfort in time of trouble
B. Did not really believe in the dream
V. Crooks’s attitude toward the dream
A. His belief
B. His disappointment
VI. Candy’s attitude toward the dream
A. His belief
B. His money
C. His disappointment at the end