jack shall have jill / nought shall go ill

The naivety of these 'country proverb' lines sums up the kind of world which Shakespeare has tried to create for his Athenian lovers: a world in which the country superstitions of May Day or Midsummer Eve (when maidens are supposed to dream of the man they will marry), together with the traditional figure of Robin Goodfellow, the Puck, are used to give body and background to the adolescent and unserious (but socially accepted and necessary) process of 'pairing off'.

 

The dance is a dance of emotions, but the emotions are not subjected to anything like a psychological analysis; Shakespeare limites our response by showing us the lovers as the mere puppets of the fairies. (Hunter 1962: 10)

See also

bestiality (Jack shall HAVE Jill)

feminist readings (Jack shall OWN Jill)