Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for A Midsummer Night's Dream


A Midsummer Night's Dream - Theme

Example



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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs are valuable aspects of any literary work, and they add richness to stories. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to analyze without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our supplementary article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich symbolism that William Shakespeare uses throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They will analyze the instances of themes, symbols, and motifs as they appear in the play either while they read or after they've finished.


Themes to Look for and Discuss

Love

Throughout the play, the actions of impetuous lovers create continuous conflict. The tangle of affections that has left out Hermia shows that love is often difficult and unbalanced. When the theme is carefully examined, the reader can see there are multiple types of love working throughout the play. However, the underlying message is that love is not always perfect or reciprocated.


Magic

Magic, wishes, or attempts to avoid fate often fail or need reversal. Whether this is is frowned upon, or simply futile, messing with something that has already been determined is rarely a good idea. In this play, Puck causes a mess that inevitably needs fixing when he uses the magic flower to play Cupid.


Dreams

Dreams are curious and bizarre. Perhaps why Shakespeare employed them so often. They can be used to explain desires, but they can also be ambiguous; dreams can create feelings and desires that can be either wonderful, or terrifying. Moreover, they prove how we are not in control and add a dimension of illusion to any situation.


Motifs and Imagery

Theseus and Hippolyta

The sub-plot of the Duke and his Amazon Queen suggests rationality and reality. Unlike the dream state that much of A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes place in, Theseus and Hippolyta are the only ones who seem to be in control during this entire charade.


Love Potion

In the play, the love potion causes most of the mischief and represents the fickle nature of love. We can fall in and out of love just as quick as the drink can make us love and then take love away.


Pyramus and Thisbe

This play within a play is highly ironic. The play about Pyramus and Thisbe contains many of the same elements as A Midsummer Night’s Dream!



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes, motifs, and imagery in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from A Midsummer Night's Dream you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Add a second, third, or fourth row if analyzing multiple themes or motifs.
  6. Save and submit your storyboard.

Template: Theme

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