Reconfigured Time in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: tempus longum or tempus commodum ?

Mariem Khmiri


The dramatic space occupied by the two plots in A Midsummer Night’s Dream allows Shakespeare to reconfigure time from its empirical quality (as a linear trajectory) into a subjective defiance of the Christian sense of history.

         The experience of temporality in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is invested with a round movement that resists the phenomenological aspect of a timeline and reveals itself as an “antique fable” marked off by the visible indeterminacy of the human condition. Such meditations about the evanescence of life by Lysander, Titania and Theseus bear testimony to the absurdist dimension of temporality which ostensibly resists the category of duration (Tempus longum) as of potential (in its Petersonian sense as tempus commode or agent of renewal). As a first impression, time is portrayed as a negative force with hardly any prospect ahead except death. To counter this ontological immateriality of time, A Midsummer Night’s Dream seeks through such expedients as dreams, the intrusion of the fairies, etc to present man with a new parameter to his time-consciousness beyond the fixation on death and the Christian promise of an afterlife.

      This redefinition of the performativity of time in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is preconditioned by the synergy of chaotic forces which disconnect the text from its historical time into a prefiguration of the more thrilling (actually Nietzschean) stunt of being unhistorical.


Christian timeline, unhistorical, tempus longum, tempus commodum

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