Sexism In A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Throughout history, men have always dominated. They never let a woman rise to power or have the same rights. This sexism has been ingrained in society for thousands of years, so much so that it has defined some of the most famous works of literature, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This play was written during the Elizabethan Era, an era in which a woman had all the power imaginable (Queen Elizabeth), and yet, women were still severely discriminated against. Women had no say whatsoever in their society; they were not allowed to vote and they had very few legal rights (Papp, Joseph, Kirkland). They were could not enter the professions (lawyer, priest, doctor, etc.) and they by law, needed the permission of a husband, father, or any male-head…show more content…
Not only did men see women as unintelligent, they also saw them as weak and compliant. What made this worse was that women of higher status would have a lot of free time since they had servants to do everything. They would spend their time strolling around or doing ‘feminine hobbies’; this affirmed mens’ notion that that women were idle and did not do much, so they treated them this way. To see how dire their situation was, one must must only have to read A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While fictitious, this story does show one bit of truth, the way women were being treated during this era. “ I beg the ancient privilege of Athens: as she is mine, I may dispose of her, which shall either be with this fine gentleman (Demetrius) or to her death according to our law, immediately provided in that case” (1.1.45-48). Hermia wishes to marry her true love Lysander, who in turn loves her as well; however, even though he is as good a man as Demetrius, status-wise, Hermia’s father, Egeus, would rather kill her or turn her into a nun than let Hermia control her life. This practice was widely done by the Elizabethans. Daughters had no choice but to marry the man their father…show more content…
He did this by having two settings: Athens and the woods. Athens represented modern Elizabethan society, and here, all the women are in their stereotypical gender roles; Hermia was the dutiful daughter that had to follow her duke’s and father’s orders, Helena was the girl that was in love Demetrius but was not allowed to go after him, and Hippolyta was the captive who had to marry her captor. Athens was a society not yet prepared for the inclusion of women; essentially, Shakespeare meant that Elizabethan England was not yet ready for women to have the same rights as men. To contrast this setting, William Shakespeare made up the woods. The woods is where the four lovers run off to, and where fairyland presides. The woods is apart from society and it is here that women’s stereotypical gender roles start to break. By going into the woods to run off with Lysander, Hermia is committing the ultimate crime, disobeying not only her father’s orders, but also the orders of the duke of Athens. It is here that Hermia makes a decision of her own and where she is finally free of the stereotypical roles of women. It is also here where Helena takes control of her life. Usually, the stereotype is that the man goes after the woman, not the other ways around, and that if a man tells the woman to go away, the woman must go away; however, Helena turns these ‘rules’ upside down. She runs after Demetrius

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