Episode 1 Depicting Violence
In this scene in Lysistrata, set in ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiates a sexual strike against men in order to end war. There is ample evidence of not only Lysistrata exhibiting both kinds of courage but other women as well. There are a number of obstacles that threaten to derail the wives’ strike before it is even fully set out upon. The most persistent one is the women’s own hunger for sex, already badly malnourished as they are by the never-ending war. While this is the hurdle to which Aristophanes returns to the most often (because it’s funny and this is a comedy), it is not the most dire in terms of consequences. Lysistrata says, “Just imagine: we’re at home, beautifully made up, wearing our sheerest lawn negligees and Nothing underneath…and the men are all like ramrods and can’t wait to leap into bed, and then we’ll absolutely refuse—that’ll make them make peace soon enough, you’ll see” (II.1. 45-48).
The play goes on to describe the many things that could occur should these women refuse their husbands sex, and the violent nature that their men could exhibit. There is no disputing that Aristophanes’ dialogue here is very funny. There is also no disputing that anyone of those things could happen to a Greek woman if she refused to fulfill her wifely duties, whether domestic or carnal. The threat of social retribution and physical violence is real. Fitting in with the tone of the play, however, the men’s response to their wives’ abandonment of them is mostly one of confusion and helplessness.
Episode 2 Depicting Violence
The failings of the male leadership of Athens are tried and found wanting in the play. Lysistrata reproaches the elders of Athens with eloquent words that threaten and point out the religious hypocrisy of the men and their obvious political and military blindness:
“I am a woman, but I’m not a fool.
And what of natural intelligence I own
Has been filled out with the remembered precepts
My father and the city elders taught me
You sprinkle from one cup
The altars common to all Hellenes, yet
You wrack Hellenic cities, bloody Hellas
With deaths of her own sons, while yonder clangs
The gathering menace of barbarians.”
These masculine failings are embodied in the violent words of the Chorus of Old Men in the play, who threaten time and again the feminists of Lysistrata with their laws of hatred. Their generalizations about women, and their threats, find their meaning in the inclusive, hopeful vision of the women:
“Disenfranchised or citizens, allies or aliens,
pell-mell the lot of them in we will squeeze
Till they discover humanity’s meaning.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Episode 1 Depicting violence:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is about the way humans deal with trauma. Shakespeare sets this up in the beginning of the play using the characters Theseus and Hypolita...