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Midsummer Night's Dream: Role of Women Anaylsis

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Arusha Chaudhry

on 28 May 2013

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Transcript of Midsummer Night's Dream: Role of Women Anaylsis

Role of Women A Midsummer Night's Dream Helena Hermia Hippolyta Thesis: Shakespeare's views on women are shown in Midsummer Night's Dream, through Helena's desperation, Hermia's recklessness, and Hippolyta's hypocritical behavior, as they rebel against the Athenian society and laws. Summary The play, Midsummer's Night Dream was released during the Elizabethan society. Therefore, Shakespeare incorporates the era's rules into the play by creating Athens, which is a metaphor to the Elizabethan nation. Women, like the Queen Elizabeth, were supposed to be pure, virgin, act humble, and submissive to their owners (fathers or husbands). In this play, Helena, Hermia, and Hippolyta are women residing in the Athenian society, Hermia, in love with Lysander runs away. Hippolyta is captured by King Theseus and forced to marry him. Helena, is desperately in love with Demetrius, who does not like her back. Hmm..
Methinks we should
start with a summary, no? Shakespeare numero 2 thinks we
also need a thesis, hmmm? Let's
Examine! Let's analyze Helena
First. Helena chases after men. This is very opposing to how a typical woman should act.
""We cannot fight for love, as men may do; we should be woo'd and were not made to woo" ( II.I. 241-242)
She contradicts her gender by breaking Society's rules. Women are not to chase after men. They are to obey their fathers and the man they choose for them. Helena betrays Hermia, her long time friend. She betrays her own gender, and gossips to Demetrius, to achieve her own ends.
She puts Demetrius over Hermia, her best friend, who we assume has been with her for a very long time. Helena is a hypocrite when she turns around and question's Hermia's loyalty as a friend.
This is going against the Athenian society rules on how to act like a woman.
Helena is not acting loyal, kind, or understanding. Instead she is accusing Hermia of actions that she actaully did before.
For example, when both Lysander is poisned to fall in love with Helena, Helena accuses Hermia of being in the play or mocking her. Next is
Hermia... Hermia disobeys her father, Egeus, and is stubborn on her decision on who to marry.
Women are supposed to obey their father's commands and respect them. To not do so, results in severe consequences such as death.
However, Hermia did the oppoiste and rebelled against the Athenian society. Hippolyta pretends to love King Theseus and thus lies through out the play.
She is forced to marry the king when he attacks her Kingdom.
Deception is against the etiquettes and guidelines of how a submissive should act.
A woman shall answer honestly to her man.
This goes against the image of an Athenian woman, especially a Queen as Queens are supposed to be role models for the females of the kingdom. She is dominant in her relationship with King Theseus. This is very unusual and not right according to the Athenian laws.
She goes against the social etiquettes and develops a different role in her relationship.
This is seen when in Scene 1, Hippolyta says, "Four days will quickly steep themselves in night; four nights will quickly dream away time "(1.1.6).
In this scenario, the king is anxious and excited. He is unpatient! However, Hippolyta is the one who is telling him to calm down and wait. She is more controlled. Hermia runs away with Lysander,
who is neither her legally husband or fiance but a mere stranger.
This action is disapproved by the society. This is proven when Hermia expresses the importance of Lysander sleeping far away.
Women are supposed to look pure, but by doing this, it causes Hermia to look otherwise.
Lastly is
Hippolyta Alright, let's move on
to questions. How do you think Athenian Women acted? How is it different from today's society? Answer! Pure, kind, proper, gentle (etc.)
Yes it is different. Women are no longer that submissive. Were Helena's actions reasonable? Do you think she could have solved her problems? How do you think she could have gotten over Demetrius? Answer!! No betraying her friend just for the sake of her selfish reasons is wrong
She could have been confident in herself and also communicated with Hermia and Demetrius How do you think Shakespeare portrayed women in the play? Answer!! Clingy, rebellious, weak, submissive, foolish... How has Society's expectations changed for women since Shakespeare's era? Answer!! The expectations for women have increased. Now, Women are expected to do more such as work and also take care of the household. Did Hermia do the right thing by running
away with Lysander and disobeying her father?

Opinion varied... She speaks back to the king.
Women do not speak out loud or question authoritative figures like men, and especially Kings.
She does not listen or obey the King, as a proper Athenian should.
" i do entreat your grace to pardon me. I know not by what power i am bold" I.I.58-59 Hermia states what risk she is taking by speaking back.
She is a bystander to the oppression of women. When
Hermia pleads her case to the king, she stands back
and allows the king to be unfair to Hermia.
This is where readers are able to see Shakespeare's views on woman as he writes Hippolyta's character in such a manner.
A honest, proper lady should remain strong on her values and beliefs.
However, Hippolyta does not aid Hermia's case which is about her love and allows the King to sentence her death if she does not agree to her father.
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