William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream": Conflict Resolution and Happy Endings

Lord, what fools these mortals be!" (A Midsummer Night's Dream, III.ii.117)

For all its playfulness, A Midsummer Night's Dream concerns itself with serious conflicts inherent in relationships between friends and lovers, parents and children, governors and the governed. As Peter Quince and his friends engage in their series of pratfalls and slapstick, so do those in the fairy world, as well as the characters who come from Athens' court. However, all suffer more serious discord as well. In each realm, the characters infuriate and abuse one another, compete, and eventually kiss and make up. The activities in this lesson invite students to focus on the characters from Athens in particular (though they can be applied to all the characters in the play), to describe and analyze their conflicts, and then to watch how those conflicts get resolved.

Guiding Questions

What conflicts presented in the play need to be resolved in order for the characters to reach happy endings?

What constitutes a happy ending?

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson students will be able to identify the conflicts in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Understand the significance of the resolutions (or lack thereof) of those conflicts

Appreciate conflict in its relationship to character and plot