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Read William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and compose an essay of 750 to 1000 words or 3 to 4 pages on one of the following topics about the characters in the play. You do not need to include any secondary sources. Type your essay using Microsoft Word, and format it according to MLA style as explained in The Little Seagull Handbook. Suggested organization: The introduction paragraph begins with a brief mention of relevant details about the play regarding your chosen topic, as may be necessary for your readers to follow your thesis. The introduction ends with a formal thesis statement. This is your essay’s main claim. This sentence should be a direct response to your chosen topic above.
The body of the essay (three to six paragraphs) develops subclaims about the topic and supplies supporting evidence from directly quoted phrases and from the details of the play. Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence stating the subclaim, followed by sentences that contextualize, directly quote, and explain the language of the play that supports each subclaim.
Finally, the conclusion paragraph sums up the discussion of the topic by relating it to the overall effect of the play.
Write well-developed paragraphs, including a topic sentence and well-organized supporting details. Include in your composition three to six short direct quotations from the play that best illustrate your supporting points.
Note: You must quote from the play at least once in each body paragraph. A well-developed essay will give supporting quotes two or three times in each body paragraph. The quotations you should select are those that can support your analysis of the play. The quotations provide an illustration of your topic sentence, which in turn supports your thesis statement. Do not quote from the play simply to retell the story.
Quotations must be followed by a parenthetical citation of the act, scene, and line numbers where the quote is found. (Page numbers are not included when citing a play.) See pages 436-440 for examples on direct quotations, and page 156, example 8, in the Little Seagull Handbook for guidance on in-text citation style. Also see the whole of Chapter 33, and especially the section beginning on page 2047, in The Norton Introduction to Literature, 14th edition, for explanation and examples on how to quote from a verse play. You do not need to include a Works Cited page, since you are only using one primary source and have cited your quotation by act, scene, and line number instead of the page numbers of a particular print edition. YOU SHOULD USE 1 OF THESE 2 TOPICS FOR THE ESSAY: 1. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s best-known speech, Theseus asserts, “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet / Are of imagination all compact” (5.1.7-8). Citing evidence from the play, write an essay analyzing Shakespeare’s characterization of love—not only the play’s action but also the words of the love-obsessed characters. Is Shakespearian love merely a kind of madness, or does it contain hints of a guiding wisdom beyond the awareness of lovers themselves?
2. Early in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helena remarks, “Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind” (1.1.234). The play is filled with references to eyes and vision; indeed, the plot hinges on the differences between what characters see and what they think they see. Using specific examples, write an essay exploring the significance of eyes, sight, and seeing in this play. What does the play suggest about the power and the limitations of human vison?