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Imagery in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Imagery is a literary device in which an author describes something using an appeal to the senses (sight, smell, etc.). One of the most obvious examples of imagery in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Shakespeare’s descriptions of the forest. He invokes our senses to make the forest seem hypnotizing like a magical spell, in comparison to the city.

Imagery Examples in A Midsummer Night's Dream:

Act II - Scene I

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"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,(255) Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine; There sleeps Titania sometime of the night, Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight; And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin,(260) Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in;..."   (Act II - Scene I)

Notice the vivid imagery of the wild plants and flowers, and that the speech is in rhyming couplets. The effect of these clever details is that Oberon’s eloquent speech sounds almost hypnotizing and entrancing, similar to the way the flower’s enchantment may affect the lovers. However, notice the contrast between this dreamy language and the somewhat dark and sinister tone that the imagery of the snake carries, especially since the next line features a kind of entrapment. Oberon’s speech illustrates the deceptiveness of the forest and of love in general; both may seem wonderful on the surface, but their enchantment can make one blind to their darker aspects.

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