Treatment of Women in Society in a Midsummer Nights Dream
The general treatment of women in ancient times such as the Elizabethan and the Ancient Greek era varied in great degrees from the treatment of women in the contemporary twenty-first century - Treatment of Women in Society in a Midsummer Nights Dream introduction. In more ancient eras, women were generally viewed as men’s property and not as individual human beings. Women were not even allowed to choose their spouse. It was common that this type of arrangement was made by their family, and the determining factors were usually age, social status and wealth.
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream Hermia jeopardizes the future of her entire family with the refusal of marriage to Demetrius and also goes drastically against the ruling society of her time. It was unthinkable for a woman to make such a choice by herself, especially for such a trivial reason as love. Yet Queen Elizabeth’s refusal to marriage lead to the “acceptance” of certain things; thus in the end, Hermia becomes married to the man of her choice instead of the man her family chose). In Act I, Scene I Theseus tells Hermia to treat her father as a God: Scornful Lysander, true, he hath my love, And what is mine my love shall render him; And she is mine, and all my right of her I do estate unto Demetrius” (Shakespeare, 4). In this paragraph Egeus expresses a sense of ownership towards his daughter, which is an accurate portrayal of the general attitude towards females during that time period. In the play Theseus gives Hermia three options. She can die, go into a nunnery, or she can marry Demetrius. This scene represents the basic treatment of women up until this era.
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Women were not given a variety of choices, since no sane human being would choose death, women were given two choices: They either had to become a nun or spend the remainder of their life with a man that had been chosen for them. Even if this meant an abusive relationship that could continue on for decades. “Lysander: The course of true love never did run smooth” (Shakespeare, 5). This line is perhaps the most famous line in the entire play and is backed up by the relationships in this piece of literature. Starting with Theseus and Hippolyta we are shown the principle of love never going just quite how one plans it.
Theseus wins Hippolyta in a glorious battle, yet she is repelled by the idea of marriage to someone she has no choice over. After finding out about this, Theseus decides to host a party in the hopes of wooing her. During a conversation with Hippolyta, he tries to charm her, yet he does not achieve the desired effect, because Egeus interrupts him with his insubordinate daughter Hermia. Hermia refused to wed with Demetrius, her father’s choice, due to the fact that she is in love with Lysander. Lysander and Hermia plan to elope, and reveal this plan to Helena.
After their departure, she devises a plot to seduce Demetrius. Helena plans to inform Demetrius of “fair Hermia’s flight” (Shakespeare, 8), which she hopes will result in Demetrius being appreciative and paying more attention to her. The entangled plot unfolds the following night when the two lovers escape into the woods and Demetrius followed by Helena chase after them. In this scene Shakespeare gives the reader insight in the love relationships of the play. Oberon takes pity on Helena because he observes Demetrius denying her.
He instructs Puck to find the flower which was shot by Cupid’s arrow and put the flower’s juice on Demetrius’ sleeping eyes, so that after his awakening he shall fall in love with the first thing he sets his eyes on. However, Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, which causes Lysander to fall in love with Helena. This upsets Helena because she thinks that he is playing a prank on her. Once Puck realizes his error he applies the juice to Demetrius’ eyes, thereby causing both of them to fall in love with Helena and upset her even further.
In the end puck applies the remedy to Lysander’s eyes and everyone lives happily ever after. In the meantime Oberon is upset with Titania because she refuses to hand over a boy whom Oberon wishes to train and make a hunter. Titania objects due to personal connections to the boy. This results in Oberon applying the juice to Titania’s eyes and hoping that the first thing she sees will be an abomination. Coincidently, there is a troop of actors in the area hoping to perform for a wedding. The play is entitled Pyramus and Thisbe, which is basically the ancient Greece version of Romeo and Juliet.
During a scene Nick, the thespian portraying Pyramus, is waiting for his entrance. As Puck discovers this, he uses his powers to put an ass’ head on him. Coincidently the first thing she sees is a man with an ass’ head; Nick. The effect of the juice has it that she falls in love with him. Thus in the end, Oberon steals the child while she is doting over the ass head, yet in the end he supplies her with the antidote, which results in her believing that she dreamt the experience. In the end, she gives in to Oberon.
With her first act Titania goes directly against Elizabethan society and refuses her husband’s demand; however, in the end she changes and fits back into the role which society during that time created for women. Queen Elizabeth began to bring about the reversal of the patriarchal society of her time by directly refusing the demand to marry. William Shakespeare gives insight into the treatment of Women during Greek and Elizabethan times in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and also opens our minds to love relationships.
Ever since the revolutionary actions taken by Queen Elizabeth by her refusal to marry, things have been in a constant state of change for the female society of the Western civilized world. The relationship issues Shakespeare pointed out in his ingenious play have and always will exist. History has proven throughout time that certain social traits of mankind, such as the desire for equality, just simply can not be suppressed. Essay Two Treatment of Women in A Midsummer Night’ Women are portrayed negatively in William Shakespeare’s play ,A Midsummer Nights Dream.
The substandard approach towards women is a reoccurring theme in William Shakespeare’s work. Women are looked at as second class citizens, men seem to prevail over women in all aspects of the Athenian society. Women are viewed as weak, insane and even as a males personal property in William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Nights Dream, Which is a very negative portrayal. Woman are portrayed as insane with very low self esteem in the play ,A Midsummer Nights Dream. We’re shown this when Helena relentlessly pursues the object of her affection , Demetrius.
Even though Demetrius has told her constantly that she is vile and disgusting in his eyes. This insanity is apparent In Helena’s quote “The more you beat me, I will fawn on you” (Act 2 ,Scene I, 204). Another instance of this insanity is evident when Lysander and Hermia tell Helena of their plan to leave Athens. Helena believes that by telling her love Demetrius were his love Hermia has fled, it will improve her chances of finally getting Demetrius to take a second look at her. This is clear in Helena’s quote “I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight”(Act 1, Scene I, 246).
Low self esteem is displayed when Lysander tells Helena how beautiful she is, but due to her lack of self esteem she cannot bring herself to believe him. This is shown in Helena’s quote “Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born”(Act 2, Scene II, 123). Altogether women are displayed in a negative manner, because of their low self esteem and insane tendencies. Woman are viewed as weak in the play ,A Midsummer Nights Dream. Helena shows us this when she states that women cannot fight for love as men do.
This gives the impression that women are to weak to pursue the object of their infatuation. This is on display in the quote “We cannot fight for love”(Act 2, Scene I, 241). Hermia is also portrayed as weak in the play. Lysander leaves Hermia while she is fast asleep in the forest, when she awakes alone she becomes distressed and anxious. This is apparent when Hermia cries “Help me, Lysander, help me! “(Act 2, Scene II, 144). Finally the Queen of fairies, Titania, is portrayed as weak enough to fall under the spell of Oberon, King of the fairies.
Titania falls victim to Oberon’s love potion and becomes infatuated with a donkey named Bottom. This is shown when Titania meets Bottom and states “Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful”(Act 3, Scene I, 137). In Conclusion women are viewed as insubstantial in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. Women are viewed as the property of males in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. Examples of this include Hermia being told by her father, Egeus, that she will marry whomever she is told to. She is told that she will marry Demetrius although her true love is Lysander.
This disregard for Hermia’s feelings is found in Egeus’s quote “And she is mine, and all my right of her I do estate unto Demetrius”(Act 1, Scene I, 97-98). Hippolyta is another example of men believing that women are their possessions. Theseus is involved in a battle with Hippolyta’s people, after defeating them, Theseus takes Hippolyta back to Athens with him so they can be wed. Hippolyta is in all respects Theseus’s trophy wife, this is illustrated in Theseus’s quote “I woo’d thee with my sword”(Act 1, Scene I, 16).
Furthermore ,Helena strangely show’s a desire to be treated as Demetrius’ property when she claims that she is no more than his dog in the quote “I am your spaniel”(Act 2, Scene I, 203). At length the women in A Midsummer Nights Dream are viewed as objects to be rewarded to men, which is terribly negative towards women. In conclusion William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Nights Dream shows a negative portrayal of women. The Negative treatment is apparent in every facet of the play, and plays a main role in the story line, and in the events that unfold. The negative treatment is primitive and shows a considerably biased thought process.