A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play written by William Shakespeare. This play is full of symbolism and the gender roles are not as people are used to.
The play showed us how Shakespeare decided to play around a little with the gender roles and what they are really like in reality. He showed examples whether they were about family, friend or romance. The role of Egeus as the father of Hermia acts as if he owns her and he disposes of her as he pleases. There is also the role of Titania and Oberon who share power almost equally but they are always arguing which is like a battle of the sexes.
The role of Helena which contradicts what women are not supposed to do, like fight for love because only men are allowed to do such a thing especially around the time the play was written in. the role of men is to be more aggressive to gain love from the one they love. Women are supposed to be more passive and not let it seem like a big deal when they want the love of a man as respect to herself. The parts played by each of these characters were that Shakespeare gave them more power than they would have in reality.Throughout the play gender role is mixed up but ends up being more realistic towards the end of the play.
The part Egeus tries to play with Hermia’s life is God because he said, “As she is mine, I may dispose of her, which shall be to this gentleman or to her death, according to our law immediately provided in that case. ” (Shakespeare 42). This line shows us that Egeus thinks he owns his daughter Hermia.
The Elizabethan Era did allow that if the daughter had not been married then she was owned by the father.Hermia was not the only one that had to go through that hell but so were the other girls in that era when they wanted to get married they wouldn’t be able to do it with the person they loved, but, instead with the person their father chose for them and there was no changing their minds or arguing back at what the fathers choice was. Normally the father would choose someone with money, power and a good name. At the time they saw their daughters as a chance to get richer as if their daughters had no feeling and they were objects even top their fathers.Although, Hermia tried arguing and trying to convince her father not to let her marry Demetrius but instead let her marry Lysander it still did not convince her father.
Now is very different from what it used to be because women now have the right to fall in love with whom they please and all they have to do is let the parents know they are getting married, some do it whether the father approves or not it does not change the way they look at their soon to be4 husband. Shows how little voice the women had back then because now you do as you please the minute you hit the age of eighteen.When Hermia and Lysander decided to run away from Athens they told Helena about it. Helena took this as the perfect opportunity to have Demetrius fall in love with her because she was going to be there when he needed her the most. This didn’t turn out so much the way she planned though because Demetrius immediately went to chase after Hermia. After Demetrius left to chase after Hermia, Helena went right behind him to chase for his love trying to convince him to love her. Helena was humiliating herself in front of Demetrius which is something women are not supposed to do.
The women of this era are supposed to be more passive and let the man come to her if he desires to do so. Hermia let all of that go and she was playing more the role of the man by humiliating, begging and stalking Demetrius in a way. “Your wrongs do set scandal to my sex.
We cannot fight for love, as men may do; we should be wooed and were not made to woo. ” (Shakespeare 240). This line shows us that Helena is willing to do whatever it takes to get Demetrius to love her even if it means that it is making a scandal on her sex.Even now women are looked down on when they beg for a man’s love or act so aggressively to gain the love of a man. Helena went to the extreme of telling Demetrius the secret that Hermia had just told her and it ended up not even working out for her because he is still in love with Hermia until he was poured love juice on his eyes by the fairies.
That is when everything changed and now Helena was thinking it was all a joke against her and that Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander were all a part of.When the love juice was poured into Lysander’s eyes and Hermia realized she was not the one being chased anymore then she became the aggressive one chasing after Lysander’s love After she realized the roles switched to what she actually wanted she was content towards the end because Lysander and Hermia got to stay together and Demetrius and Helena ended up together as well which made Hernia’s father accepting it almost like it was meant to have a happy ending. Finally, the role of Titania and Oberon was key in this role confusion.Normally there was a queen of the Amazons but in the play there were both a king and a queen who were Titania and Oberon which had almost the same amount of power. They would both argue all the time about Titanias foster child that she did not want to let go of to be Oberon’s private page.
Since Titania has the power to say no then of course she will say no until she wins but Oberon puts the love juice in her eyes so that she falls in love with an ass. This is complete humiliation to Titania but he wanted to take control and show her that’s men rule over women because around that time that’s the way it was. According to Gloria Analdua, ‘Borderlands are physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory where under, lower, middle and upper class touch, where the space between two individuals shrinks to intimacy’. ” (Obscured by Dreams, Margo Hendricks, p.
43). This quote gives us an example of how Titania and Oberon share the power over the Amazons and fairies but in the end Oberon got what he wanted and he showed Titania tht he had more power than she did and they still continued to be together even after they both new how badly Oberon humiliated Titania.Also, the way Theseus and Hippolyta shared the power over the people of Athens shows how much power a woman is given in this play especially around the time it was written almost as if it was a joke that a woman could have this much power. Theseus conquered her Hippolyta’s people and also her heart so they were both at a greater level of hierarchy. They consult one another to make decisions that go on throughout the play like they go hand in hand with the decisions.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a mix of gender roles which was Shakespeare’s goal. He made it very noticeable that the women of the play were almost equal to men. In this era it was not really the normal thing to see or get used to because it was like a joke to make us think that women would even have almost equal power as men, although, he did not imagine that now women do have rights and are equal to men because a woman can be independent and take care of a family all by herself and she can go out and work or go to school or even do both.He shows us how Helena gets on her knees, chases and becomes aggressive towards Hermia over the love of Demetrius who constantly pushes her away and tells her that he will never love her. She continues to humiliate herself before him.
He shows us how Egeus thinks he is the God of his daughter Hermia because he helped make her so he gets to choose who she marries which ends up in Hermia running away with the love of her life, Lysander. She makes sure her father wont be able to chase after her so that no matter what she will not be forced into marrying Demetrius.Then he makes it almost like a comedy that Titania and the Oberon have almost equal power over the Amazons because they both conquered the people just as Theseus and Hippolyta did. They go hand in hand making decisions about what goes on even though Oberon cheats his way to higher power than the Titania by humiliating her and making her fall in love and actually make love to an ass.
He makes her turn aggressive towards love as well because he wants her to show a side of her that she was using against him but he wanted it to be used towards her love the ass as a part of the terrible humiliation.In my opinion I think the play was written quite well because the roles were played fine. Shakespeare showed us what he wanted to show us because he made us see clearly that the women and had almost equal rights to men which was not a normal thing to see back then because women really had no say. The way he made each character show us the importance of their role in the play. He made the women more aggressive than they would be normally.He made Egeus think too much of himself and had too much power over his daughter which later he had to let go of because she was now going to be with Lysander and Demetrius was okay with it because he was going to be happy with Helena.Work Cited-Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 11th ed.
Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia.
New York: Longman, 201. 868. Print.
-Title: “Obscured by dreams”: Race, Empire, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Margo Hendricks. Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Spring, 1996), pp. 37-60. Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington University