Gender Roles In A Midsummer Night's Dream

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William Shakespeare 's A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens with the indication of a future marriage between Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. Act two introduces us to the Faerie king and queen, Oberon and Titania, who are fighting for the custody of a changeling boy. From these two quarrels, it is apparent that there is a difference in gender dynamics between the leaders of Athens and those of the Faerie World. In the beginning of the play, Theseus says to Hippolyta “I wooed thee with my sword,/ And won thy love doing thee injuries” (1. 1. 17-18). This emphasizes the fact that Hippolyta was forced into this marriage as a result of losing in battle to Theseus; thus, yielding the power in their relationship to Theseus. Even though Hippolyta does not openly oppose her duty to marry Theseus, there is evidence to suggest that she is not fully content in her new role. After reiterating to Hermia that she can either marry Demetrius, die, or join a convent, Theseus asks Hippolyta “what cheer my love?” (1. 1. 118, 121, and 122). This could suggest that Hippolyta’s expression has shown disapproval towards how Theseus handled this situation-- which coming from a group of all women would probably have seemed preposterous. Throughout the play, it is noted that the Amazon queen only has a total of fourteen lines (with the majority of them being no more than a line or two). Hippolyta’s lack of lines throughout this play could be an indication that her being
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