Is men appear stronger than women in his play “A Midsummer Nights Dream “? Essay
Is men appear stronger than women in his play “A Midsummer Nights Dream “?
How does Shakespeare make men appear stronger than women in his play “A Midsummer Nights Dream “? How does this affect society at the time of writing?
“A Midsummer Nights Dream” was written by William Shakespeare and was rumoured to be written around 1598, when Elizabeth the 1st was on the throne. The reason that it is believed to be written around this era is that at the time there was a few years of bad weather in England. This links to the effects of Titania and Oberon’s argument over the changeling child whereby the fairy and mortal world are changed. Titania is the Queen of the fairies and Oberon is the King of the fairies. In this essay I will be providing evidence that men seem stronger than women in “A Midsummer Nights Dream” by using quotations and personal reasons.
As ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ is set in Athens and there are four main groups of characters, the lovers, the mechcanicals Theseus, the duke of Athens is getting married to Hippolyta, the Queen of amazons. Egeus has chosen a husband for his daughter, Hermia, who has refused to marry Demetrius. Egeus has gone to the Duke to ask him what he can do about his uncooperative daughter. The Dukes solution is to punish Hermia for disobeying her father; to die or to marry Demetrius. This contradicts my essay title that men are more powerful than women, however, this is only one of the very few times when women seem to be more powerful than men. Hermia is actually in love with Lysander and he is in love with her so he refuses to give her up to Demetruis.
To avoid punishment from the Duke, they both flee the nearby forest just outside of Athens were they are followed by Helena and Demetruis. The problems start to arise when Puck, the henchman of Oberon places a love potion in the wrong athenians eye. Making Lysander fall in love with Helena and when he tries to resolve the problem he puts the “love potion” in Demetrius’s eyes. Demetruis and Lysander are now madly in love with Helena leaving Hermia with nobody loving her. Again Puck creates another problem by messing about while a group of work men are rehearsing for a play that they hope to perform at the Duke’s wedding. This creates a very humorous moment in the play. This is also evidence that the play was written for the Queen Elizabeth 1st as she liked comedies. This is ideal for Oberon’s plan to humiliate the Queen of the Fairies to get the changeling boy that he desires so much.
During the period of time when the love juice is in effect, there is a lot of misunderstandings and bewilderment. The fairies create a lot of trouble in the play as well as a paranormal element. It is also like a dream when the play is set in the forest and then when it is set in the city of Athens it more realistic.
In the play Egeus can not control his daughter so we assume that he is a weak person especially as in Shakespeare’s time it is thought that women were controlled by males and they weren’t suppose to question it. To prove this Theseus says,
“To you your father must be a god “
Egeus goes on to describe how Demetrius is a man who she should marry. He blames Lysander for her change in attitude towards him as the play continues,
“Turned her obedience, which is due to me, to stubborn harshness”. During the time of Shakespeare women were possessions to men, as Egeus says,
“As she is mine, I may dispose of her”
Egeus goes on to explain about the law but he needs Theseus to control the situation, as he is the Duke. In this situation the female involved, Hermia, is the more powerful then Egeus, however, the situation changes when they go and speak to Theseus. where they both threaten Hermia with death.
To prove to her father that she will not obey him Hermia argues,
“I grow, so live, so die, my lord…unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke”
This basically means that you can kill me but I will not be happy until I marry Lysander.
Oberon is the King of the Fairies and Titania is the Queen of the Fairies. They are both powerful but in different ways and that is what makes the story interesting. When we first meet Oberon and Titania we find out that they are having an argument or a misunderstanding. We know this because the first thing that Oberon states is
“Ill be met by moonlight, proud Titania”
Titania replies with
“I have forsworn his bed company”
This reply shows that they are in the middle of the quarrel as she won’t do what Oberon wants her to do; to give him the changeling boy. For a long time Titania resists and she even refuses to go to bed with him. Again like Egeus and Hermia women are supposed to obey men and this is another example of disobedience from women. A changeling boy show power to who ever owns one as a changeling boy is a henchman that’s why Titania wont even give him up for the for the Fairy Kingdom.
“Not for thy fairy kingdom”
But Oberon response shows his power because he can take revenge “Well go thy way … till I torment thee for this injury”
By saying this he explains to the audience how his strength and control can be used to retaliate against Titania’s infliction.
Theseus and Hippolyta were both leaders of a cluster of people. Theseus was the Duke of Athens and had control over all the people that lived in the Greek city of Athens and Hippolyta was the Queen of the Amazons. The Amazons were a group of women that hated men who had fought in battles and also had a ritual to cut their right breast so they could fire arrows.
They both had a lot of respect from two very different groups of people. Hippolyta was seen as a trophy wife, she was won in a battle and so became his prize. Theseus shows Hippolyta off to show that he has the power to win battles. As explained earlier Egeus came to Theseus with a dilemma about his daughter and to show his power he threatens her with a death penalty. During the play Hippolyta doesn’t say a lot of things and it is obvious that she has hidden feelings, but as a conclusion Theseus has a lot more power over her, this proving my statement.
The first we see of Demetrius is in the forest and Helena is following him. They are both looking for Lysander and Hermia when we notice that Helena is trying to beg for Demetruis’s love,
“I am your spaniel … your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex we cannot fight love, as many men do”
Helena seems a pushy character and seems selfish. I think this because it is obvious that he doesn’t love her but she still asks and pleads him to love her. The power is definitely towards Demetrius as he is denying Helena’s love because he loves Hermia. Demetrius shows his strength and takes advantage of her by saying
“leave the city.”
The power changes after puck puts love juice in his eyes while he is sleeping. This affects everything as he now loves her so much and doesn’t love Hermia anymore as Demetrius says,
“O Helena, goddess nymph, perfect divine”
By saying this he weakens his masculinity to what Helena was before.
Queen Elizabeth was a very powerful woman and to show this she once said this very memorable quote,
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble, but I have the heart and stomach of a king and a king of England at that”
This quote reflects how men were perceived as powerful and strong and women as weak and incapable. Queen Elizabeth was about the first woman to show that she was strong and not how women were portrayed as. She somewhat broke the dowry system law, which was that women were not aloud to work or do anything constructive.
In conclusion of this essay I feel that men are overall more powerful than women but after further consideration I feel that towards the end of the play the power changes over to the women. This is all down to Puck and Oberon with the love juice. There is certain situations were women appear more powerful than men. That situation is with Egeus and Hermia, as she doesn’t get punished for loving Lysander rather than the chosen Demetrius. Even at the end of the play she still has power over him as they marry.
I think the play was the best out of the Shakespeare plays that I have previously studied. I enjoyed it because it was one of the plays that I actually understood and I like the comedy that was included in the play. I also liked how the subplots all rolled in to one or they affected one of the other plots.
Subject: William Shakespeare,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 July 2017
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