Gender In A Midsummer Night's Dream

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“What say you, Hermia? Be advised, fair maid. / To you your father should be as a god, One that composed your beauties; yea, and one / To whom you are but as a form in wax / By him imprinted, and within his power / To leave the figure, or disfigure it.”

In the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream written by William Shakespeare, four lovers are caught in a convoluted love square all the while facing gender belittlement from various disapproving influences. Shakespeare enforces gender roles by demonstrating the difference of authority and expectations males and females have. Shakespeare does so by portraying the view of weak woman, that men are more sensible than women and that men control the actions of women throughout the play.

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For instance, when Hermia and Helena start arguing, they project the image of impulsiveness and irrationality. All the while Lysander and Demetrius are foolishly fighting due to the love spell, Helena and Hermia, supposed lifelong friends, start a quarrel, equally as foolish, believing that they were betrayed by the other. Helena believes the situation to be a “jest” (III. ii. 239) made by the others but Hermia accuses Helena, out of anger, to be a “thief of love” (III. ii. 283) and she tries to start a unneeded battle. Helena, frightened, attempts to explain the situation to Hermia, stating that she has “never wronged [her]” (III. ii. 308). However, blinded by her own assumptions and anger, Hermia continues her attack on Helena, refusing to listen to the other woman’s words. With this, Shakespeare could imply that women have no reason. Rather than logically approaching the situation, the women were overtaken by their emotions, acting rashly and violently. Additionally, Lysander and Demetrius were also bickering as recklessly as the girls during this time but under the love spell. Shakespeare could have hinted that the only way men were to act as foolishly as women were if there was a third party that made men that…show more content…
For instance, in the play, men are seen as the more dominant sex. Theseus “wooed” (I. i. 6) Hippolyta by having to give her “injuries” (I. i. 17) with his “sword” (I. i. 16) during a battle, the result of this fight is that Theseus “won” (I. i. 17) Hippolyta’s love and they are to “wed” (I. i. 18). Here, Shakespeare could hint that Theseus forces Hippolyta to fight him, using his brute strength in order to win himself a bride; portraying the power men would hold over women at any time without any consequences. Furthermore, men expect women to follow the commands they give to them. When Hermia refuses her father’s marriage proposal with Demetrius, the man that Egeus had given his “consent” (I. i. 25) to, becomes furious with her sudden display of “turned obedience” (I. i. 37). Thus, Egeus gives Hermia two options to choose from, since he believes he can “dispose of her” (i. I. 42) as he pleases “As she is [his] [...]” (I. i. 42). Hermia could either marry Demetrius or be delivered “to her death” (I. i. 44). The situation that Hermia’s father wants to put Hermia in does not give her the freedom to be able to pick her own options and instead is forced to follow the decision Egeus made despite the opposition Hermia made at the start. Women were not believed to have the necessary intelligence to make decisive decisions on their own and instead were to follow the advice men would
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