Explore Shakespears Presentation of Love in “a Midsummer Nights Dream”

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The following essay will explore Shakespeare’s interpretation of love informing on language, characters and symbols Shakespeare uses to display the various themes linked to love. Discussing themes of control, jealousy, insanity, fickleness and the platonic love found within the characters of ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’. The theme of love is used throughout the play and portrayed in the reality of Athens by day and the dreamlike imagery of the woods by night. Shakespeare presents the woods as an alternative place to the real world, the insanity of the woods questions what love is for the characters involved. The woods become the magical playground for Puck, the mischievous fairy, invisible to the human eye, to manipulate the famous quote of Lysander “the course of true love never did run smooth” (i,i,134). The play is set in Athens a place of rules and rigid parents, during the renaissance of the Elizabethan era, when society was patriarchal. Women had to marry to gain status and marriages became based on appearance and social hierarchy rather then love. Women were dominated by men and seldom had opinions. Elizabethans believed it was dangerous to let reason be dominated by passion. Control is a common way people abuse the concept of love, Shakespeare gets this message across through various characters in a midsummer nights dream. Control is first seen at the beginning of the play when the duke of Athens; Thesus demands that Hermia, the daughter of Egeus is to marry Demitrius not her true love Lysander. Egeus states “stand forth Demetrius! – My noble lord, “This man hath my consent to marry her.”(i,i,24-25). The display of control and male dominancy shows the hierarchy of the men in the Elizabethan era. Women were forced and obligated to do as men say, and there roles were determined by the powers that be as Theseus states to young Hermia “To you your father should be as god.”(i,i,47). The result of this control leads Hermia and Lysander to give into there passion and for love elope to the woods come nightfall. Shakespeare demonstrates Hermia’s true love for Lysander in act 1 using the symbol of a dove to describe her feelings for Lysander, speaking in rhyming couplets she states “By the simplicity of Venus’ doves, By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves”.(i,i,171-172). However the rules do not change and regardless of her strong protest to the marriage she will have to make a choice. The result of this disobedience could be devastating for Hermia risking her life at the hands of her father to be with the man she loves, a view shared by critic Gale Edwards where she states “Little girl are completely at the disposal of their fathers and can be killed if they don’t agree with their father’s intentions for their marriage” (Edwards, 2004). This clearly shows the true irrationality that love creates as Hermia is prepared to die for the love of Lysander.

Control is also portrayed in the enchanted world of the woods through the personality of Oberon the king of fairies a jealous dictator, when his fairy queen Titania remarkably disobeys his orders to handover the child she is caring for. Titania’s actions prompt Oberon to obtain, with the help of his sidekick Puck a ‘love in idleness’ flower he states “Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again” (ii,i,173), the juice is magic enough that once applied to the eyes whilst sleeping, it proceeds to alter the love of the beholder for the first thing It sees. Oberon uses this in his bid to gain back control of his wife and make a mockery of her. The love juice becomes a vital influence for Oberon to discredit his wife and he constructs a plan with Puck to make her fall in love with an ass. Shakespeare uses the character of Oberon when he controls the love of Demetrius and unwittingly Lysander. Speaking now in blank verse to establish authority Oberon tells of the vile plan stating “Having once this...
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