Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shakespeare "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Analysis

Shakespeare has always had few women in his works because women were not allowed to act in London in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Nevertheless, Shakespeare created many female characters that were strong-willed, intelligent, and daring. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a play by Shakespeare, is a perfect example of the strong-willed and even weak roles of women. The role of women in the play is lost in control of men. Shakespeare wrote this play to portray the relationship that existed between women and men in England in the 15th century (Greene 151).

Hermia of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one unique character. She is very rebellious; she disobeys her father, king, and the Athenian law. She is willing to throw away all of her luxuries in exchange for the freedom to love Lysnader. Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius despite the fact that she doesn’t love him. But because her father “owns” her she can either do what she is told or be put to death (Kolin 40-41). Hermia’s father demonstrates the traditional masculine role of a father. He thinks he is in control but with a daughter like Hermia he won’t get his way. Along with her father, Hermia demonstrates a feminine role of a strong and independent woman. She strives to provide for herself and not have her luxuries handed to her all for her own happiness.

Helena on the other hand is the opposite of Hermia. She’s pretty pathetic and desperate. She attempts the love Demetrius with no consideration that he is Hermia’s man. After being too shy to ask for Demetrius’s love, she instead begs to be in his presence saying:

“I am your spaniel; and Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you:
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am to follow you”

Her role in this play demonstrates another stereotypical role of women. She comes off as weak and a “home-wrecker”. Most people now-a-days will have no respect for her if this play was created in the 21st century.

Shakespeare’s characters were and are scripted to perform cross-gender roles. That’s also another reason why Shakespeare portrays his characters with different personalities that fit the category of the traditional masculine and feminine roles. Feminists truly enjoy all of Shakespeare’s women. Queen Elizabeth I helped influence many of Shakespeare’s plays and characters, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” happens to be one of them along with the similar love story “Romeo and Juliet”. Shakespeare was most certainly an advocate for feminism when he wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Kolin 6-7).

Works Cited
Greene, Lenz, Neely, eds. The Woman’s Part: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1980.
Kolin, Philip C. Shakespeare and Feminist Criticism. NY: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1991.
Shakespeare, William. Four Comedies: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, The Tempest, Twelfth Night. NY: Washington Square Press, Inc., 1962.


  1. It is a good work. I agree with your opinion. In the essay, it is good to explain the opinion that Shakespeare was most certainly an advocate for feminism. The essay use a part of the play to support the opinion. In summary it is good essay.

  2. I liked your essay and also how you stated how the roles of the charcters would be looked at if the play was done in the 21st century. Overall I liked you essay.

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