Love, Chaos, And Disorder In Midsummer Night’s Dream

1445 words - 6 pages

Love can be quite chaotic at times. As much as poets and songwriters promote the idea of idyllic romantic love, the experience in reality is often fraught with emotional turmoil. When people are in love, they tend to make poor decisions, from disobeying authority figures to making rash, poorly thought-out choices. In the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare uses various motifs to illustrate how love, irrationality, and disobedience are thematically linked to disorder.
First, Shakespeare uses the motif of the seasons early on in the play to solidify the connection between love gone awry and chaos. The initial romantic conflict is established when Egeus brings his daughter, Hermia, to Theseus to try and force her into marrying Demetrius, the man of his choice. Hermia has no interest in Demetrius because she is madly in love with Lysander. Unfortunately for her, Theseus sides with Egeus and threatens to enforce Athenian law if she does not obey him. Obviously, this situation is awful for Hermia; she is being kept from her true love. Her options are dismal: she has the choice of disobeying Egeus, betraying Lysander, or living a lonely life as a nun. Either way, she loses. The situation seems completely hopeless. Shakespeare illustrates this hopelessness by connecting Hermia’s grim future with the winter. When Theseus describes Hermia’s potential future, he calls her a “withering” rose and a “barren sister,” destined to a life of “chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon” (Shakespeare 1.1.75). Essentially, Hermia will be trapped in an endless winter. This unnatural seasonal change will become a reality if she becomes a nun and remains celibate. For a young woman who is passionately in love with a young man, life as a nun is a particularly unnatural path to take. It would also have been perceived as unnatural at the time in which Shakespeare was writing for a young woman to disobey her father. Thus, it is easy to see the types of connections that Shakespeare wants his audiences to make. A disruption of the societal order, such as celibacy forced on a young woman in the prime of her life or broken social norms between a father and his daughter, is mirrored in the disruption of the natural order. A young woman in the springtime of her life faces a barren and wintry future. Everything is completely out of balance.
As the play continues, the characters’ relationships become increasingly chaotic. By Act 2, irrationality and disobedience in love are becoming closely linked to disorder Shakespeare uses the motif of the moon to illustrate these connections. In Act 2, Scene 1, Oberon and Titania, the fairy king and queen, are in the middle of a huge argument caused by Titania’s disobedience. Titania discusses the moon’s changes to help show the consequences of their fighting. She describes the moon as an angry goddess who feels as though she has been disobeyed and states that the moon feels so disrespected that she is...

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