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Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Psychological View Research Paper

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Updated: May 8th, 2020

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a must-read fascinating chef-d’oeuvre written by William Shakespeare that is believed to have been compiled in the period 1590 to 1596 during the lifetime of Shakespeare. It is one of the most famous and popular works of Shakespeare that are still relevant today with most people acting various plays based on the original piece.

The three terms id, ego, and superego are psychological terms founded and defined by Freud’s structural and topographical models of personality. The id is that part of human beings that enables them to meet their basic needs. On the other hand, the ego is another side of people’s personality. It is based on reality principles. The part makes people respect other’s needs and concerns. It also secures them respect from other people. Superego is also a psychological term that represents the moral part of human beings.


As a fact, based on the way the author strategically presents various characters, psychological critics have suggested that some characters in the A Midsummer Night’s Dream can be seen as representations of the ego, the id, and the superego. The play depicts various themes that people encounter in their day-to-day associations, for instance, marriage, love, and magic among many other themes.

In my opinion, the play is a real-life revelation that successfully explains the difficulties that people go through in pursuit of love. These challenges sometimes make people lose hope and turn to different ways of satisfying their ego. Some of the characters appear in various scenes while others are minor. Hence, they are only depicted or come into the limelight shortly. The characters, as the paper reveals, represent ego, superego, and id.



In support of the concept raised by psychological critics concerning the work, Egeus is one of the characters that represent the ego.


Egeus, Hermia’s father, has an ego that leads him to permit Demetrius to marry his daughter. However, the daughter is not in love with him. Rather, she loves Lysander. He, therefore, brings complains to Theseus, the king of Athens, on why his daughter has refused to listen to his wishes. Egeus feels that his daughter is walking on a bad road by refusing to listen to him.

He wants his daughter to marry a man who he feels is suitable and appropriate for her. However, this does not take place. His anger and dissatisfaction are manifested in his taking of actions to go to Athens to report the matter in a bid to seek a solution or rather a satisfaction. He even goes ahead to threaten her daughter that she will be forced into marriage or else go to a convent.

Quote from the text

He says, “As she is mine, I may dispose of her” (1.1.42). The way the two are thinking and reasoning differ in terms of their wavelengths. Whilst Egeus thinks and feels that Demetrius is a suitable man for her daughter, her daughter has no such love concerns for the man. Therefore, the ego of Egeus is not forthright: he fails to succeed.

On the same scenario, her daughter Hernia seeks justice by following her ego. She exhibits the behavior by refusing to own the demand of her father in pursuit of her own happiness, a representation of ego. She says, “I do entreat your grace to pardon me” (1.1.58). The daughter loves Lysander. Therefore, she struggles to beat all odds to get hold of him. They make a decision to get married at a far place at Lysander aunt’s place to avoid being forced into a marriage that she did not want to enter.

Quotation from a secondary source

Confirming the above claims, Mayo argues, “Everyone in the play wants to be loved” (296). They all feel that they have what it takes to attract the attention of other people’s eyes. The play revolves around love and any other thing associated with it. Hermia is the kind of person who lets her desires define who she is. She is in love with the man she likes.

According to her, nothing is going to stop her. Her mind is already made up. There is no way her father can change this. Sometimes people experience challenges in their relationships. Some of the challenges form the external sources, while others are intrinsic. In the case of Hermia, her challenges are external. She is determined to ensure that she overcomes them. She does this by agreeing to cohabit with her love Lysander in a faraway place. Therefore, she is guided by her moral reasoning that she needs to make her own decision concerning her life and relationship.

Example 2

Oberon is yet another character that played a critical role in the development of the id and the ego in a bid to confirm the claims of the psychological critics.


Oberon also referred to as the king of fairy and the husband to Titania, has a character that strategically represents id and ego. When he is in the forest, he develops love with an Indian prince. He tries hard to make him his knight. His wishes fail. He becomes angry with his wife Titania for refusing to allow him to take the boy to become his knight.

This upsets him and therefore comes up with a plan that is aimed at revenge. He is a determined person who often wants to achieve the end of what he has started or that, which he believes is right for him regardless of other to people’s opinions. Oberon is determined with his quest to revenge Titania for her, which makes him send Puck to get him a love portion that will help him achieve his mission. He says, “But hast thou yet latch’d the Athenian’s eyes” (3.2.36). He is an ascertained character who has a high id. He manages to obtain the Indian boy. In his endeavors, Oberon is a character that portrays the three psychological representations. His id makes him choose very disastrous measures to make his ends meets.

Quote from the text

The words, “Lysander, keep they Hermia; I will none” (3.2.169) depicts this argument. He says, “I’ll to my queen and beg her Indian boy” (3.2.375). He also lacks superego, as he seems not to be morally and ethically correct. His actions are not given a thought. He does what he thinks will satisfy him without thinking about the effects that his actions will have to the other people.

He does not show any concern to other people. As such, he makes decisions without critically thinking about their implications and consequences. His decision to spread some concoctions in the eyes of Lysander and his wife shows a person who has no mercy to other people. He is not a morally upright person. Therefore, he does not demonstrate any sign of superego. He, therefore, puts the lives of others at stake while purposing to make his own life better and happy. He is, therefore, a man who is self-centered and one who only aspires to quell his own demands and interests.

Quote from an outside source

Confirming the above arguments, Oberon behaved the way he did because of his id and the egoistic aspects that dominated his life. It is quoted, “he aims at replacing love where it belongs, but in the short term, he compounds chaos” (Nguyen 199). Oberon plans are outrageous in that he causes confusion and problems in people’s lives. After the concoction mistakenly administered, it causes confusion among the lovers leading to complications. Oberon’s intentions, therefore, illustrate an individual who shows no concern to other people.

Example 3

In day-to-day life, people encounter challenges that even deter them from achieving their goals and objectives. Lysander’s personality manifests this claim based on her id character that confirms the words of the psychological critics.


Lysander is the fiancé of Hernia. He is concerned about his fiancée- Herma whom he loves so much. Even amidst the challenges, he has remained calm and decisive. Lysander encounters various challenges in his relationship with Hermia. First, Hermia’s father is opposed to their relationship. Regardless of these challenges, Lysander manages to overcome them. His id directs him to go for what he wants and likes. He perseveres and makes a decision to go to his aunt’s place to marry his love Hermia amidst the resistance from Hermia’s father.

Quote from the text

To back up the claims above, he says, “And in the woods, where often you and I” (1.1.214). The words are indicative of how he has to make sure he satisfies the desires of his heart. This spirit motivates him to go for what he wants regardless of the hurdles that are before him. The woods refer to a place in his aunt’s place where they were going to express their love and affection. Therefore, Lysander is depicted as a character with high id and ego. His ego makes him fight. He does not relent to marry the girl of his choice.

Quote from an outside source

Confirming the claims, Mayo points out how Demetrius and Lysander nearly went into a fight because they all loved Helena and no one was willing to be separated from her. These repercussions are all associated with his id character. The poem “…relies on the modernist paradigm, which insists that art will redeem the masses” (Mayo 313). People make decisions that the best thing to fulfill their interests and desires. In this case, Lysander is driven by his inner experiences to marry Hermia. It seems nothing will make him fail to achieve this goal.

Example 4

Another character in the play that manifests the ego in his behaviors in the play is Snug. He is a working illustration of psychological critics’ hypothesis.


This character was part of the participants that took the role of a lion in the artisans’ play in the marriage ceremony between Theseus and Hippolyta. He says, “Have you the lion’s part written? Pray you, if it” (1.2.66), which is depictive of his ego through his pessimistic belief in his voice. His ego makes him develop concern to his colleagues. He analyzes any action he wants to make based on its implications to the people around him. In fact, he is worried that his roaring sound would frighten women who would come to the celebration.

Quote from the text

The words, “be, give it to me, for I am slow study” (1.2.67) show hat Snug has low self-esteem. He feels that he is not going to act the part of a lion better to the satisfaction of the congregation. He is concerned about his voices, which may cause anxiety among the audiences. Therefore, he is of the opinion that the part is not given to him. This behavior depicted by Snug is an illustration of the psychological alignment of people. It represents personality differences among people. The behavior of Snug is, therefore, a depiction of his ego.

Quote from an outside source

Nguyen proves the words of psychological critics of Shakespeare’s work as having characters who are led by their id, ego, and superego. He declares Snug’s behaviors as ego-oriented (Nguyen 199)

Example 5

Though hard to tell, Helena’s behaviors still confirm the critics’ arguments concerning Shakespeare’s work. She has a low ego.


Helena is a young woman who is in love with Demetrius. The two were once in love though it came to a standstill when Demetrius fell in love with Herma before coming together again. Helena’s ego is low. She has a low opinion of herself. For instance, when Demetrius abandoned to love Hernia, she had an assumption that the reasons that compelled him to leave her were her looks.

Quote from the text

To back up her low ego character, the words, “None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine?” (1.2.202) portray how she feels that her looks are not as good as those of Hermia.

Quote from an outside source

As the plays open, Helena does not appear anywhere in the subject of love that incorporates other women. As confirmed by Hillman, this masterpiece stands out as “the most widely appreciated of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, it is arguably the distinctive role of Helena” (34). Her encounters as depicted in the work lead to her conclusions that she does not have an appearance that can qualify her in the love triangle.


In conclusion, the play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare is one of the plays that have managed to beat the test of time. In fact, based on the revelations made in the paper about it, it suffices for any fanatic of literature to declare the author as one among the few who have successfully used characters that strategically reveal his goal and message to the audience.

The various roles played by the characters based on their different personalities have made the play interesting and one that captures the instincts of readers. The play has various themes such as love difficulties, magic, dreams, motifs, and contrasts among many others. The characters’ reactions and portrayal of behaviors and traits illustrate id, ego, and superego. Therefore, through its characters and themes, the play has concurred with psychological critics’ view of the play as one that depicts id, ego, and superego. Otherwise, the composition is an informative piece of work.

Works Cited

Hillman, Richard. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream and la Diane of Nicolas de Monteux.” The Review of English Studies 61.248(2010): 34-54. Print.

Mayo, Sarah. “A Shakespeare for the People’? Negotiating the popular in Shakespeare in Love and Michael Hoffman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Textual Practice 17.2(2003): 295-315. Print.

Nguyen, Khai Thu. “Another Midsummer Night’s Dream in Ho Chi Minh City.” Asian Theatre Journal, 28.1(2011): 199-221. Print.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. London: Routledge, 1997. Print.

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