A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

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Are you a teacher looking for something fun and educational to teach your students this summer? Why not bring them on a fantastic journey with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream? It is one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, full of jokes, love stories, and magical adventures.

With the right approach, you can bring to life a classic tale that has delighted audiences for centuries. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of how to plan an engaging lesson on A Midsummer Night’s Dream in preparation for the upcoming summer season!

Related: For more, check out our Planning Overview of Clockwork by Philip Pullman  here.

Quote From Midsummer Night’s Dream

Central Themes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play written by William Shakespeare. The main themes that come up in the play include love, magic, illusion, and transformation. These themes are explored through the different characters and their experiences throughout the space.

Characters and Their Storylines

  • Theseus: Duke of Athens who is preparing to marry Hippolyta. He represents the rational and logical side of society.
  • Hippolyta: Queen of the Amazons who is set to marry Theseus. She represents the natural world and its power.
  • Egeus: Father of Hermia who wants her to marry Demetrius. He represents societal expectations and authority.
  • Hermia: In love with Lysander but forced by her father to marry Demetrius. She represents rebellion against societal norms.
  • Lysander: In love with Hermia but faces opposition from Egeus and Demetrius. He represents true love and loyalty.
  • Demetrius: Originally in love with Helena but later pursues Hermia under pressure from Egeus. He symbolises societal pressure and conformity.
  • Helena: In love with Demetrius but rejected by him for Hermia. She represents unrequited love and jealousy.
  • Oberon: King of the Fairies who tries to help resolve the lovers’ quarrels using magic. He represents power, control, and intervention.
  • Titania: Queen of the Fairies who uses magic to assert her dominance over Oberon. She symbolises nature’s unpredictability and strength.
  • Puck (Robin Goodfellow): Mischievous fairy servant of Oberon who creates chaos through his use of magic. He symbolises trickery, mischief, and humour.

Overall, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a complex play that explores various themes through its diverse characters. Through their different storylines, we see how societal expectations clash with individual desires, how love can be both transformative and unpredictable, and how nature can exert its power over human affairs through magical intervention.

The Symbolic Significance Of Theseus

Theseus, the Duke of Athens, plays a significant symbolic role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He represents society’s rational and logical side and the ideals of law and order. Theseus is associated with the city and civilisation, contrasting the natural world defined by the forest outside Athens.

In the play, Theseus is a foil to characters like Oberon and Titania, who are associated with nature and magic. His presence reinforces the idea that there is a clear divide between civilisation and nature, reason and emotion. However, this division is challenged throughout the play as characters like Hermia and Lysander rebel against societal expectations in favour of their desires.

Additionally, Theseus’ impending marriage to Hippolyta represents a union between two different cultures – Greek (Theseus) and Amazonian (Hippolyta). This can be seen as a metaphor for merging various aspects of society or other parts of an individual’s psyche.

Overall, Theseus’ symbolic significance lies in his representation of societal norms and expectations. While he may initially seem rigid in his adherence to these ideals, his character highlights how these norms can be challenged and subverted through an individual agency.

planning a writing unit

How Hermia and Lysander rebel against societal expectations

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, characters like Hermia and Lysander rebel against societal expectations in several ways.

Firstly, Hermia refuses to marry the man her father has chosen for her, Demetrius and instead decides to pursue a relationship with Lysander. This goes against the societal expectation that she must obey her father and marry the man he has chosen for her.

Secondly, Lysander also rebels against societal expectations by loving Hermia despite her father’s objections. He defies the norm that men should follow their fathers’ wishes regarding marriage.

Furthermore, Hermia and Lysander choose to run away from Athens into the forest rather than accept the consequences of their rebellion. They reject the authority of Theseus and Egeus and seek refuge in an alternative world where they can pursue their desires freely without fear of repercussions.

Their actions challenge traditional societal norms surrounding arranged marriages and the power dynamics between parents, children, and romantic partners. Their rebellious spirit ultimately leads them to find true love and happiness outside these restrictive structures.

Overall, Hermia and Lysander’s rebellion highlights the importance of individual agency in shaping one’s destiny, even in the face of powerful societal pressures.

Learning Opportunities

When teaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream, several learning opportunities can be brought into the classroom. These opportunities can help students engage with the play more deeply and develop critical thinking skills.

  1. Historical Context: Teachers could provide historical context to help students understand Shakespeare’s social and political climate. This context includes information about Elizabethan England, the monarchy, and popular beliefs during that era.
  2. Literary Analysis: Teachers could introduce literary analysis techniques such as symbolism, imagery, and themes to help students understand how Shakespeare uses language to convey his ideas. Students can analyse specific passages from the play to identify these literary devices.
  3. Performance: Teachers could encourage students to perform scenes from the play in class or in front of an audience. This exercise allows students to explore character development and dialogue while improving their public speaking skills.
  4. Creative Writing: Teachers could assign creative writing tasks such as writing alternate endings or creating modern adaptations of the play. This task encourages students’ creativity while allowing them to practice their writing skills.
  5. Critical Thinking: Teachers could facilitate discussions around themes such as love, power, gender roles, and societal norms depicted in the play. These discussions allow students to think critically about these issues both within the context of the space and in contemporary society.

By incorporating these learning opportunities into their lessons, teachers can make A Midsummer Night’s Dream more accessible and engaging for their students while promoting critical thinking skills across various disciplines.

Literary Devices In A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare uses a variety of literary devices and techniques in A Midsummer Night’s Dream to convey his ideas and enhance the play’s overall impact. Some of these include:

  1. Imagery: Shakespeare uses vivid imagery throughout the play to create a sense of fantasy and magic, particularly in the scenes set in the forest. For example, he describes the fairies as having “gossamer wings” and wearing “melted rubies” and “spangled starlight.”
  2. Metaphor: The play is full of metaphorical language that helps to convey complex ideas about love, power, and identity. For instance, when Theseus says that “the lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact,” he uses a metaphor to suggest that these three groups share an imaginative nature.
  3. Irony: Shakespeare employs irony throughout the play to add depth and complexity to his characters’ actions and motivations. For instance, when Demetrius says he loves Hermia but then pursues Helena instead, it creates an ironic situation highlighting love’s fickle nature.
  4. Foreshadowing: Shakespeare uses foreshadowing to hint at future events in the play. For example, when Puck says that “Lord what fools these mortals be!” early on in Act III, it foreshadows the chaos that will ensue when he puts spells on various characters later in the act.
  5. Symbolism: The play is rich with symbolism that adds layers of meaning to its themes and characters. For example, Bottom’s transformation into an ass symbolises his foolishness and lack of self-awareness.

Foreshadowing In Act III

There are several examples of foreshadowing in Act III of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Here are a few:

  1. Puck’s line “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” is a clear example of foreshadowing, as it hints at the chaos that will ensue when he puts spells on various characters later in the act.
  2. When Demetrius and Helena enter the forest, Demetrius says to Helena: “I’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes / And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.” This line foreshadows that he will be put under a spell later in the scene and fall in love with her.
  3. When Oberon asks Puck if he has found an Athenian youth in the woods, Puck replies: “The king doth keep his revels here tonight; / Take heed the Queen come not within his sight.” This line foreshadows that Titania will soon arrive on the scene and become involved in the conflict between Oberon and Titania.
  4. The fact that Bottom has been transformed into an ass also serves as a form of foreshadowing, as it hints at the absurdity and chaos resulting from Puck’s meddling with human affairs.

Example Lesson Plan

Title: Exploring the Themes and Literary Devices in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Grade level: High School (9th-12th)


  • Students can identify and analyse critical themes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Students will be able to identify and analyse various literary devices used by Shakespeare in the play.
  • Students can apply their understanding of these themes and literary devices to create written initial responses.


  • Copies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Whiteboard and markers
  • Handout on literary devices (e.g. metaphor, imagery, foreshadowing)
  • Writing prompts or worksheets for individual or group work


  1. Introduction (10 minutes) Begin by introducing the play and its historical context. Discuss how Shakespeare wrote during the Elizabethan era and how his plays reflect that period’s social norms and values. Provide a summary of the plot of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  2. Identifying Themes (20 minutes) Next, divide students into small groups and assign each group one of the following themes from the play: love, power, identity, and illusion vs reality. Have them read through specific scenes in Act I-II that relate to their assigned theme and discuss how that theme is represented in those scenes.
  3. Analysing Literary Devices (30 minutes) After discussing themes, introduce students to various literary devices Shakespeare uses, such as metaphor, imagery, foreshadowing etc. Use examples from the play to explain each device.
  4. Applying Knowledge (30 minutes) Provide students with writing prompts or worksheets that ask them to use their understanding of themes and literary devices to create originally written responses, such as a short story based on one of the characters or scenes from the play or an analysis of how Shakespeare uses a particular device like symbolism.
  5. Conclusion (10 minutes) Wrap up by having students share some of their written responses with the class or allow them to discuss what they have learned.

Assessment: Assess student learning through class participation during group discussions and completion of writing assignments, demonstrating an understanding of the play’s themes and literary devices.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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