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
Today, men and women have equal rights, but that does not mean life has always been simple for both genders. When Shakespeare writes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, there are roles, behaviors, and expectations for the dominant men and submissive women. This literature portrays the major changes in the lives of both sexes throughout the years, which shows the advances women gain with time.
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
An Athenian Toy Story: Objects that Come to Life Objectification obscures the inner thoughts and places a mask over one’s true self. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare, the Athenian women are governed by very fixed stereotypes: they must fight to remove the masks and assert their independence . This play confronts the issue of gender equality which arises in complicated family decisions and romantic relationships. While in the Athens society, it is common that men are dominant over women, in contrast, women dominate over men in the Amazonian system of gender. As time progresses in this play, one can see the shift from strict patriarchal rule to a balanced perspective.
Women have always been portrayed as the weaker sex compared to men. It has been demonstrated in history itself and throughout literary works. Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Homer’s The Odyssey, however, portray women to be more powerful than men, even when their society thought otherwise and underestimated them because of their gender. Lady Macbeth, The Three Witches, Queen Arête and Penelope demonstrate the astute, charming, and ambitious side of women that was overlooked by men when it came to having power and making decisions. Both works show the hardships of being a woman in power. At the same time, they give their perspectives of the power women disclosed.
During the Elizabethan period, the role of women in society was very different from what it is today. According to the system of patriarchal society that dictated that women were inferior to men, they had to obey the male figures in their lives. The woman was seen as the weaker sex either physically or emotionally which meant that it was entirely dependent on her husband if married and members of his family if single. Moreover, in the Elizabethan theater, women were not allowed to play because of this hierarchy. Therefore, they were replaced by men disguised as women.
In Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, women are portrayed as either pure angelic beings and jewels, or as whores who are impure. They are objectified and shown as something to be used. The only women in this play are Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca compared to the main 6 male characters, not to mention the minor characters, who are also all male. Their depicted purpose is to belong to a man; Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca’s lives revolve around being wives to Othello, Iago and Cassio. This fits into the idea of a perfect Elizabethan woman, who’s lives are subject to their husband’s rule across all aspects, to be disposed of as men wish.
It’s no surprise, that Shakespeare’s Macbeth was clearly constructed as a rebellion against femininity roles of the time. During the Elizabethan era, women were raised to believe they were inferior to men since men obtained desired masculine qualities such as strength, and loyalty, whereas women were viewed as figures of hospitality (1; 6; 28-31). Obviously, not being tempted by the luxury of subservient women, William Shakespeare rebuked this twisted belief, applying that women deserve more respect than their kitchen tables.
In his play “Othello,” Shakespeare is very compassionate towards the women of his era. He treats Desdemona with special sympathy. She is the victim of two crossed male aspirations — the devilry of villain Iago and the jealousy of her husband. The main cause of Desdemona’s tragedy is the total absence of women’s personal liberty. The lack of self-development without restrictions of society and family constricts the mind. She falls in love with some hero stories and even got married to it. Her life must have been bored and very constrained compare to contemporary time when everyone’s story sounds like a hero. Her father makes her to choose between him or Othello, and she can’t reserve the right to be close to both, similarly the feudal law worked
Although the perspective of women in the Elizabethan era was much different from the perspective of manhood, it was also similar in a sense that manhood and womanhood both played an essential role during their era. The thought of men being the ones to do things such as commit murder and be ambitious is still prevalent today. In our society we view women as people who are soft and not quite as ambitious as the opposite sex. The notion that women are incapable of committing murder is obscure as they are physically capable of doing harm to any human body as well as being able to have ambition such as
“And though she be but little, she is fierce” -William Shakespeare. In today’s day and age, one of the greatest topics of debate is gender roles. It is evident everywhere, from cyberspace to the streets of home, from online petitions to marches across the country such as the Women’s March. Shakespeare lived in the Elizabethan Era of England, where Queen Elizabeth I, the virgin queen ruled. At that time in history, the status quo and social norm was simple. Patriarchy was the predominant force as men were regarded as superior to women, both in society as well as the relationship scene. Shakespeare attempted to change this perception through his multiple works of literature. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare uses the theme of gender roles to express the idea that the status quo and social norm in the Elizabethan era can be challenged through courtship, father-daughter relationships, and wedlock. The play commences with the courtship of multiple individuals.
This may also present to us that the women in this play are quite strong and independent despite the times this play is set in, Hermia's father Egeus treats Hermia as though she is his property and that she has no freedom of choice Egeus threats his daughter by death or to become a nun which shows some state of
The use and misuse of magic are of great importance in the play, A Midsummer Night 's Dream. It is a recurring theme that is mostly seen with Puck. The use of magic by Puck helps in creating conflict, humor, and balance in play. Shakespeare employs this device in his play to mainly build and establish the theme of love. The role of magic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is seen as an interference with the human world, however it is still separate from the human protagonists (Noone, 2010).
In A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Shakespeare let the readers to explore his imagination and bring them to fantasies. A Midsummer Night’s Dream implies a world of imagination, illusion and unconsciousness through the word ‘dreams’. In the last scene of the play, act V scene I, the audience experience there is different thought of Theseus and Hippolyta in interpreting the love stories of Hermia, Lysander, Helena, Demetrius and the imaginations of many other characters. The scene of Theseus talking to Hippolyta lead to a controversy about the value of imagination and reason. From the play, the audience indeed witnesses magical incidents in the fairies’ forest, where the fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania, rule over the natural processes. Throughout the play, the readers can see how human beings were irrationally behaved under the spell of these fairies and in the magic forest, however, there was a character based on the Greek mythology named Theseus as the Duke of Athens, who thinks logically and believes in just reality and not the imagination. Furthermore, the imagination based on this story can be asked on the play within the play of “Pyramus and Thisbe”, which is rehearsed by craftsmen throughout the story and performed at the wedding ceremony in the last scene, offers an increase of imaginative perspectives. The characters and events in the play indeed have their own way of interpretation of imagination that can be manipulative and confusion to the readers.