A Midsummer Night's Dream Characters: Round, Flat, Dynamic & Static

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

There are all types of characters in Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Some are rounded and dynamic, some are flat and static, and a few are a combination of both.

A Veritable Feast of Characters

Have you ever known someone who had good and bad qualities in almost equal amounts or will never change, no matter what? Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is full of all types of characters. . . those who have good and bad points, and those with one or the other. Those who change and those who remain the same. This lesson will focus on the round, flat, dynamic, and static characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream are varied and fantastic. There's a mischievous sprite, the King and Queen of the Fairies, a bunch of confused lovers...the list continues. While all of these characters are different, not all of them are fully developed and not all change over the course of the play.

Round vs. Flat Characters

A round character is one who is fully formed. This character will have good and bad points, realistic dreams and desires, and will speak and act in a believable way. Round characters are more real than their flat counterparts. Usually, a round character will grow or change over the course of a story (although, as you'll see below, not always).

A flat character, on the other hand, is one who is one-dimensional, as if stamped onto a piece of paper. There is only one side to a flat character, whether it is good or bad. Also, flat characters are generally used for backup roles, and are unlikely to grow or change during the course of a story.

Round Characters

The main characters, the lovers: Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, and Helena, are round (and dynamic) characters. Each of the lovers has his or her good and bad points, and these qualities are brought out when they run away from society and into the woods.

Three of the lovers planning to run away
Three of the lovers planning to run away

Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, is also an example of a character who is both round and dynamic. He is mischievous and loves playing tricks, which could be seen as negative qualities, but he is also very loyal to his master, and at the end he seems to truly care about the fate of the Athenian lovers.

Queen of the fairies, Titania, and her actor-turned-monstrous-lover, Bottom, are also examples of characters who are both round and dynamic. Both have their good and bad points (Titania is jealous but magnanimous, Bottom is self-centered and annoying but good-hearted).

Oberon, King of the Fairies, is somewhat of a mystery. Though he is obviously a round character who loves his wife, he also is very jealous of her time, and plots to humiliate her. Also, he doesn't change much over the course of the play. This makes him a static character, which we'll flesh out below.

Bottom and Titania in a fairy bower
Bottom and Titania in a fairy bower

Flat Characters

Flat characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream include Duke Theseus, Hippolyta, Egeus, the Mechanicals (with the notable exception of Bottom), and the majority of the fairies. These characters are all generally either good or bad, and stay that way (with one exception below).

Dynamic vs. Static Characters

A character is considered dynamic if he or she changes over the course of a story. Generally (though not always) this change will be in the form of growth; the character will learn a lesson or make a decision that moves him or her closer to adulthood. Static characters do not change as time goes on. They are usually one-dimensional and remain constant. Events do not affect static characters the way they do dynamic ones. A static character, for example, will not learn a lesson or grow as a result of what he or she has been through.

Dynamic Characters

The lovers are definitely dynamic characters. Each of the lovers changes throughout the story, and each grows as a result of the foray into the forest. The lovers enter the story as children (or youths, anyhow) and, by the end, have been married and reached adulthood.

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