TheRole do Power and Authority Play in Midsummer Night`s Dream
"TheMidsummer Night`s Dream", written by William Shakespeare, is apopular comic play that portrays the events revolving around themarriage of Theseus (the Duke of Athens) and Hippolyta. The play alsofeatures the adventures of the Athenian lovers end up in marriagedespite various challenges, and a group of amateurs. While a numberof themes come into the play, power and authority are perhaps themost evident. A look at the actions and characters of the charactersin "The Midsummer Night`s Dream" particularly exemplify therole of power and authority in fortifying male chauvinism.
Inmany instances, the male characters possess overly power andauthority that antagonize the women`s status quo. In one of theinstances, Theseus says, "O, methinks how slow this old moonwanes! She lingers my desires, like to a stepdame or a dowager longwithering out a young man`s revenue" (1.1.3-6). In thisstatement, Theseus is griping about the nature of the situation thatforces him to wait for his wedding night with Hippolyta for longerthan it is necessary. While Theseus may be excused for being onlyhuman when he longs for his wedding with great anticipation, thiscase may not apply to the extent to which he uses a chauvinistanalogy to describe the situation. Theseus compares the moon`s natureto step-dame [stepmother] or dowager [widow] in spending her son`sinheritance. In using ‘window` and ‘stepmother,` Theseuslamentation can be seen as targeting at all the women in generalbecause any average woman can become a stepmother of a widow on thecourse of her life.
Thepower and authority men command over women also seen when Theseusconfides, "Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword and won thylove, doing thee injuries, but I will wed thee in another key, withpomp, with triumph, and with reveling" (1.1.17-20). Apparently,Theseus conquered the Hippolyta`s people (the Amazons), which he seesas a justified reason to marry her. Therefore, it becomes clear fromthe scenario that women such as Hippolyta are not entitled the rightto resist men with power and authority such as Theseus.
Inthe same vein, when Egeus, who is Hermia`s father, feels that he isjustified in deciding the course of marriage for his daughter. Egeussays, "I beg … as she is mine, I may dispose of her, whichshall be either to this gentleman or her death, according to our law…" (1.1.42-46). In this statement, Egeus considers Hermia hasno choice other than marry Theseus, lest she is killed.Interestingly, Egeus is keen to cite the law to legitimate hisactions. This incident only happens because the male chauvinism is atits best.
Inpresiding over Egeus and Hermia`s case, Theseus says, "What sayyou, Hermia? be advised fair maid. To you your father should be as agod …. to whom you are but as a form in wax … by him imprintedand within his power ….". (1.1.47-53). Again, the quotecreates the allowance to infer chauvinism. Theseus considers Hermiaas a mere form of wax that can be easily melted, and that largelydepends on the will of his father, Egeus. To Theseus and Eugeus,women in the society do not reserve power and authority to turn downwhat men want.
Therefore,it is indeed indisputable that the actions and characters of thecharacters in "The Midsummer Night`s Dream" particularlyexemplify the role of power and authority in fortifying malechauvinism.
Shakespeare,William.Brooks, Harold F., ed. TheArden Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream.Methuen & Co, 2014. Print.