Patriarchy In A Midsummer Night's Dream

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In William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the female characters' desire to question the law of Athens and select their own husbands drives most of the conflict in the play. In a way, Hermia, Helena, and Titania are the protagonists of the play because each of their desires are being thwarted by the patriarchal structure of the society in which they live. The way the women try to overcome such hurdles does not sit well with the men. Accordingly, the men get on edge when their patriarchy is disrupted, so they make strict laws to try and keep the women under their control. The men of Athens feel threatened when women show agency because their whole patriarchal system depends on female complacency. Although Athenian society…show more content…
Even though Demetrius rejects her attempts to woo him, she simply replies: “Run when you will. The story shall be changed: / Apollo flies and Daphne holds the chase….” (2.1.237-38). Demetrius tries to be rid of her because this role reversal makes him feel uncomfortable. Demetrius believes in a more traditional pursuit, like him chasing Hermia, as opposed to having Helena follow him around. The male characters in this play often feel uncomfortable when their female counterparts break gendered stereotypes. This is the same feeling that drove Theseus to war with the Amazons. An equally important woman is Hermia: Theseus and her father have in mind Demetrius for Hermia’s groom, yet she still refuses even after a small threat from Theseus, “Be advised, fair maid. To you, your father should be as a god” (1.1.47-48). Here in patriarchal Athens, fathers are the head households and hold influence over near-all decisions. Hermia was given three choices by her father: death, nunnery, or Demetrius, and was expected to pick Demetrius, but instead she swore to a life without men for she loved Lysandre. This was a very direct message to her father, that he would not be able to so easily plan out her life, and surely it was taken as quite an insult to his leadership of the
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