Midsummer Night's Dream By William Shakespeare

1405 words - 6 pages

Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Midsummer Night’s Dream begins in the palace of Theseus, Duke of Athens. Theseus a mythical Greek hero is about to marry Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, a mythical race of women-warriors. Hermia’s father, Egeus, comes before the Duke to ask that she be punished by law for disobeying him. Hermia wants to marry Lysander and Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius. The law he asks to be invoked provides that she die or enter a nunnery if she doesn’t obey her father. We learn that Demetrius, hermia’s father’s choice, has abandoned Helena. Helena still loves her unfaithful Demetrius. Lysander and Hermia plan to elope. They tell Helena, who says she’ll tell Demetrius. All four lovers will go to the woods the next night: Hermia and Lysander to elope; Demetrius to prevent this, having been warned by Helena; and Helena herself to be with Demetrius. A situation that was all right before the play began is now off balance, with the two men loving Hermia, and Helena sad and lovelorn. In William Shakespeare's tragic comedy play written in 1595, A Midsummer Night's Dream, there are two characters, who play as the leaders of both the human and magical worlds. These characters are Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Oberon, the King of the Fairies. Both of these characters have many similarities, and many differences. These similarities and differences are apparent in the way they have shaped their personalities, relationships, and their roles in society.

Shakespeare’s Theseus is really a romantic rather than a classical character. As Duke of Athens he reminds us somewhat of Henry V, King of England. He appears to be Shakespeare’s earlier conception of his ideal king. Like King Henry he is a great warrior and a ruler possessed of much dignity and majesty. He bears some resemblance to the English king also in the fact that his youth had been rather wild (Act II, Sc. 1, 76-81). That was when he was still under the influence of the fairies, an influence which passed away before the period of his life presented in the play. Here we see him as a soldier and a man of action, who wooed his wife with his sword, and `won her love doing her injuries’, and who in times of peace loved to hear the music of his hounds. His career has been one of conquest (Act V, Sc. 1, 51, 93-100), his triumphs have been celebrated in set orations prepared by great scholars who have `shivered and looked pale’ in the presence of so famous of a soldier. But he, being a man of action rather than of words, who could appreciate any service done him `when simpleness and duty tender it’, has a preference for `the modesty of fearful duty’ rather than for the rattling tongue of saucy and audacious eloquence (Act V, Sc. 1, 102). His love for Hippolyta is no romantic passion like the loves of his young Athenian friends. Indeed, although he makes love at the beginning of the play in a dignified and stately fashion, we find him...

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