A midsummer night's dream : subjective reality as a "House of Mirror"

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Donald Watson

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

James Sutton

Third Advisor's Name

Joan Baker

Date of Defense



Shakespeare’s artistic and philosophical genius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, particularly how the portrays subjectivity as the contorted and incoherent images inside a “House of Mirrors,” is the focus of this thesis. By viewing the play from the vantage point of the subjective mind and projecting outward, I posit that the play treats human existence as fluid, making “reality” an elusive and indefinable concept. First, I evaluate the play’s depiction of human desire, a perverse formlessness, which having run its full cycle, will turn on itself revealing an inherent weakness in our nature. Secondly, A Midsummer Night’s Dream also complicates matters of social reality as man’s inconsistencies of identity and perception allow for the blurring, violation and ultimate implosion of physical and mental spaces, once again leading us to the “House of Mirrors” not just as a metaphor for subjective perception, but likewise for the complexity and negotiation of life. Lastly, having noted the fluidity of the mental images generated by the play, my analysis concludes by focusing on how the Shakespearean stage synthesizes the “House of Mirrors” and theatrum mundi metaphors to reveal the implications of subjectivity in the playwright’s humanistic philosophy.



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