Shakespeare's Presentation of Contrast Relationships
Theseus and Chipolata's relationship is a key element to the play as
all other events and characters are centred around their wedding. For
example, the mechanical's play "Pyramus and Thisby" is to be performed
at their wedding; Oberon and Titania argue over each other's feelings
towards Theseus and Hippolyta, and Hermia is told to
"Take time to pause, and by the next new moon - the sealing day
betwixt my love and me,"
She must wait until after Theseus wedding day before she makes the
decision of whether to marry Demetrius or not. So, in a way some of
the characters actions are controlled by the wedding.
The wedding itself is a symbol of the ideal pattern of love and
marriage in Theseus's own world, which is the court. Theseus won
Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons in battle. This suggests that
Hippolyta is more like an object if she is "won" and represents the
typical view that men were superior over women. However with
Hippolyta's character Shakespeare mocks this ideal, as Hippolyta,
being queen of the Amazons, a tribe of warrior women, represents a
very strong and independent woman, therefore does not conform to the
stereotypical view of the "wife."
Theseus and Hippolytas first scene is important as it sets the scene
for the play. Shakespeare stresses the differences between the two.
Theseus is very impatient for their wedding to take place:
" But, O, methinks, how slow this old moon wanes."
Whereas Hippolyta replies,
" Four days will quickly steep themselves into night, four nights will
quickly dream away the time."
"Slow", "old moon" and "wanes" all show Theseus's frustration at how
time is dragging on and his eagerness to get married. Whereas
Hippolyta's language shows the exact opposite. "Quickly" and "steep"
suggests that Hippolyta is not keen on the idea of marriage and
believes time will go quickly. In addition, the words "night" and
"dream" are more associated with the fairy world and so implies that
Hippolyta, unlike Theseus, is a more imaginative character.
" I wooed thee with my sword and won thy loveâ€¦I will wed theeâ€¦. with
This would imply that Hippolyta is a "trophy", simply a symbol of
Theseus's power as a warrior. The word "sword" reinforces the fact
that the relationship is a forced one. "Sword" can also be a phallic
symbol emphasizing Theseus's power as a man. It shows that Theseus
assumes, in his marriage based on reason rather than love, that
Hippolyta will automatically love him:
"â€¦and won thy love."
But that is not the case. Shakespeare is stressing that reason does
not always bring happiness.
Theseus's rational views are further stressed in the situation between
Hermia and her father,...