Implausible Love In Midsummer Night’s Dream

1513 words - 6 pages

Love is chaotic and free, and because love is so powerful, we often do extreme and erratic things to capture it. The tradition of marriage, or mawage, is so firmly established in history that the gender roles common to marriage are often inescapable, no matter how strong love is, or how powerful a person is. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare uses imagery to portray the theme of gender roles and show how love has the spell-bounding power to either change or reinforce those roles.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins with commentary on the classic gender roles of an engaged couple Hippolyta and Theseus. However, the classic gender role of women’s subservience to her husband is made complicated by war and victory. Theseus, duke of Athens, conquers the Amazons, and consequently takes Hippolyta as his prize. The prize mentality that Theseus embraces is rather barbaric, similar to wild animals fighting for a mate, and aids in reinforcing detrimental gender roles. Previous to being conquered, Hippolyta had been the ruler of a great nation and was by no means a weak or submissive woman. Although she had been shamefully conquered for marriage, Hippolyta refuses to be a beautiful statue that lies in the outskirts of the palace to be gawked at. Hippolyta secretly has control over her situation, as shown in the first passage of the play in Act 1, Scene 1. In this scene, Theseus discusses their wedding day with a tone of longing. Imagery of anticipated seasons of the year with slowly moving days is used when he fantasizes about the wedding day and describes Hippolyta as holding his desires from him. Although Hippolyta has an intimidating Amazon warrior image, Theseus is enamored by Hippolyta’s beauty and will do anything to gain her love. An image of Theseus “withering” as he waits shows the control that Hippolyta has over him. The imagery in his longing tone and in the word “withering” paints an image of Theseus crawling at the feet of Hippolyta, begging for his sustenance, and pleading for her love. The control Hippolyta possesses shows that even though she has been conquered, she still holds a vast amount of power, a reversal of gender roles. This reversal is furthered by Theseus willingly submitting to Hippolyta. He surrenders the control he has fought so viciously to attain, and in conquering his prize, he marries Hippolyta , laying down the weapon he used to conquer her and becoming subservient to her, a complete 180 in gender roles.
The reversal of roles is again shown by the fairy couple Titania and Oberon. They are masters of the fairy world, and control the happenings of the forest. However, they are unable to control each other, venturing from the norms of gender, and battling to establish new gender roles. When Titania has the Changeling, Oberon falls jealous and wishes to take the Changeling. His demand for the Changeling trumps his love for Titania, forming a nexus for their gender struggle. Titania, similar to Hippolyta, is a...

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