The article by Anne Barton thoroughly describes the many important aspects of A Midsummer Night's Dream such as the synthesizing of 'character types, times and places, and modes of thought. ' Barton discusses the theme of dream versus reality which is prevalent in this play. Another interesting point emphasized by Barton describes Shakespeare's usage of itemizing with his characters. By discussing the acts of A Midsummer Night's Dream individually, Barton is systematically breaking down Shakespeare's approach to comedy while identifying how the dream/reality theme is applied.
Barton also takes the time to characterize the different people in the play by their actions and words. This technique is essential to understanding the purpose of all of the characters. A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play concerned with dreaming. Shakespeare reverses the types of reality and illusion, and sleeping and waking, abstract and nature, to touch around the central theme of dreams. Shakespeare draws a very thin line between dreams and reality, but by doing so, he allows the audience to step into both worlds. Vivid imagery is used throughout the play to establish the dream world.
Barton correctly states that 'the preoccupation with the imagination and some of its products' is central to this play and gives the reader a more complex view of the matter. Barton's technique of breaking down the play by acts and scenes and identifying the characters and their roles was a very good idea. I do agree that each character is interrelated to the dream/reality theme though it may not be easily identifiable. A good example used by Barton describes Theseus' unknown association with the fairies (dream realm) that he detests so much.
Theseus believed that products of the imagination all amounted to nothing but foolishness, not knowing that he had previously displayed many of the qualities that he disagreed with. Many characters also represented themselves through their actions and words. Theseus always criticized anything related to the imagination while other characters like Bottom lived to perform and live up to his name. In agreeance with Barton and other critics, itemizing by the characters helps give the play its dramatic nature.
It would have been mundane and less comical if all of the characters were straightforward and right to the point. Shakespeare synthesizes his characters, time frames, and variations of thought by defining and illustrating the roles that the characters play in each others' lives. Time is also used to mesh the different worlds together. Through most of the play it is nightfall, a time of dreams and mischief, while daylight represents the time of consciousness and reality. The ideology behind synthesizing in A Midsummer Night's Dream is right on target with the concepts Shakespeare was trying to portray.