When Puck offers his epilogue, he says “If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended: That you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear.” This made me think of the function of dreams and sleep throughout the play, and the ways in which they blur reality. This epilogue is telling its audience to pretend you were dreaming if you didn’t like the play. It references the idea in the play that the drama caused by the love juice was remembered to be a dream when the lovers woke up cured. It ties together many different ways that sleep and dreams are used in the story, and the suggestion that the fantastical elements of the play may have been dreamt up.
The drama of the story is created by Puck’s love juice, that he sprinkles over characters’ eyes as they sleep. The application of this juice during sleep suggests that maybe they dream the whole thing. Another aspect of the love juice/sleep dynamic that stuck out to me is the fact that the characters frequently fall asleep alone in the woods. I’m not sure if this is something that happened more commonly in Shakespeare’s time, but I think it adds another dreamlike element to the story. The setting of the results of the love potion in the woods makes it more stark and surreal, and contributes to the suggestion that these events are only happening in dreams.
The events of the play occur in a way that seems dreamlike, and the climax is followed by what seems like “waking up.” After Puck applies the cure to the lovers, they wake up and things are not only back to normal, but even better than before. Demetrius finds himself no longer in love with Hermia, but back in love with Helena. This allows Egeus to permit Hermia to be with Lysander. It happens so quickly that all of their problems are solved upon waking up that it seems as though the whole thing was a dream, and sort of insignificant. I also get the feeling it could be a suggestion of a dreamlike resolution, that maybe suggests reality isn’t that different than dreaming.