A Midsummer Night's Dream was first performed in 1595 or 1596, and first published in quarto in 1600. It also appeared in the First Folio of 1623. It marks the transition from Shakespeare's early comedies, where he can be seen honing his craft, to the period of his middle or “golden” comedies. It is a masterpiece of construction and has justly been seen as one of Shakespeare's most perfect plays. It may also be regarded as one of his lightest and brightest works, peopled by fairies and young lovers and “quick bright things” (1.1.149); yet even here we can see how comedy proceeds by invoking then vanquishing its opposite. Tragedy hovers nearby as Hermia is threatened with death or enforced chastity if she refuses to accept …
Hackett, Helen. "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 December 2002; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7109, accessed 28 April 2015.]