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"Hippolyta and Titania are consorts who defy their Lords, but ultimately submit to their lordship". Examine how Shakespeare treats the female characters and explores the role of women in the play "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

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"Hippolyta and Titania are consorts who defy their Lords, but ultimately submit to their lordship". Examine how Shakespeare treats the female characters and explores the role of women in the play "A Midsummer Night's Dream". 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is said to be written between 1594 and 1596. It is also thought it was written around the period 'Romeo & Juliet'. Similarities between the two do occur between the plays, for example the play of 'Pyramus and Thisbe' which is performed by Peter Quince's men has the same tragic ending as 'Romeo & Juliet'. William Shakespeare at this time was the play writer for Elizabeth I .Shakespeare therefore gave the female characters in his plays, some sort of power. By doing this Shakespeare could not irritate the Queen by creating a play which was based on male characters. During the time of Queen Elizabeth I's reign, there were religious tensions between Catholics and Protestants. The Queen tried to treat the two religions equally and by encouraging them to live in peace. (1). Despite her attempts to bring about peace within the religious community, she was ruling a country torn apart by religious tensions. Also during the time of Queen Elizabeth's life was in danger, her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots wanted to have her killed. Fortunately for Queen Elizabeth, her cousins' plot was uncovered and she was tried and sentenced to death in 1597. ...read more.


Am not I thy lord?" (Act 2 Scene 1). Oberon tries to remind Titania that he is the master and that she ought to respect his wishes and do as she is told. He thinks that because he is the King, no one, even his wife has a right to defy him. Titania answers Oberon with the line: "Then I must be thy lady". (Act 2 Scene 1). Her reply is somewhat sarcastic and ridicules the patriarchal view of the way that women are treated. On the other hand, Hippolyta loses her status as a powerful Amazon queen because Theseus 'wins her' in a fight so she now belongs to him. She is now Theseus' possession and has to agree or go along with whatever he says. However, Titania refuses to be dominated by Oberon, leading to disastrous consequences. By the end of the play, Titania is no longer demanding to what she wants, but she gives in to possess a happy marriage and order in the natural world, Because Titania disobeys Oberon, he subjects her to humiliation by getting Puck to cast a spell on her which makes her fall in love with Bottom who has an ass's head. The nature of this spell seems to indicate that women are rather foolish in falling in love as they usually fall in love with people who have 'ugly' personalities and cannot see beyond the persons' outer self. ...read more.


The Elizabethan theatre consisted of two main types of audience, the higher class and the bourgeoisie (The middle class.)(6) It may be that Shakespeare assumed that the majority of the working class would not understand the hidden meaning of the play and perceive it as simply a comedy. However, the more educated intellects would understand the true issues portrayed in the play and not just the visible thought. There is also the issue of absent mothers. It is apparent that the status of the mother has been removed from the play, there are only fathers or male figures. Men are taking away the importance of motherhood from the females in early modern England which is represented in the play. When Titania brings up the Indian boy, Oberon takes him away, by having Puck place a love potion on her so that her attention is diverted from fostering the boy. There is a cultural change from matriarchy to patriarchy where Titania's right to be a mother has been taken away by a man. Overall, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' can be argued to be a representation of patriarchy in early modern England. The male characters are overtly concerned about their position in society concerning gender stereotypical roles. As a means of controlling their insecurities, they do everything they can to make sure that their female partners will not be able to defy them even if humiliation and degradation of their are the only ways to help them stay in power. ...read more.

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