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A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Romeo And Juliet": How are these plays related?

Both plays are thought to be written by Shakespeare at approximately the same time, 1594-1596. There are very similar plots for Romeo and Juliet, and for the "Pyramus and Thisby" play put on by the Mechanicals in Act 5, Scene 1, of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Pyramus and Thisby story is from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Both stories involve young lovers kept separate by feuding families. The lovers secretly overcome that separation only to die together in a tragic misunderstanding, where the young man wrongly believes his love is dead and kills himself; she sees him dead and kills herself. Interestingly, Romeo & Juliet is a heartrending tragedy, while Shakespeare's "Pyramus and Thisby" is a riotous comedy. The difference is primarily in point of view. In Romeo and Juliet, we as readers or audience come to identify with the lovers - to feel intensely their soaring love and their later despair. In "Pyramus and Thisby", by many devices including terrible actors, a distracting on-stage audience for the play, and silly and overblown speeches and images, we are prevented from ever identifying with the characters, and see only a highly laughable attempt at theater.by hopelessly amateur and naive actors.


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Copyright 2002 Dana Spradley, Publisher, for shakespeare.com