Hermia as a Feminist
Women had always been discriminated against throughout the centuries. They were often treated like inanimate objects, toyed by fate and a society that was dominated by men. The women of the Elizabethan Era were of course, no exception. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Shakespeare created a character that had the backbone to defy this unfair system. She was Hermia, a feminist who risked stakes higher than her life to protect her right to love and live by her own will. The sexist values of that time were plainly displayed in the very first scene of the play through the words of two men that exercised the most authority over Hermia—Egeus, her father, and Theseus, her king. Egeus declared, as he was complaining to Theseus about Hermia’s refusal to marry Demetrius, that “as she [Hermia] is mine, I may dispose of her: Which shall be either to this gentleman [Lysander], or to her death…” (I, i, 41-43). Egeus had used the word “disposed”, a verb usually used on objects. To him, Hermia was nothing but his possession, something to dispose of once it fails to serve its purpose as a gift to the family of his choice. “To you, your father should be as a god…” (I, ii, 47-49).Theseus had said, agreeing with Egeus and threatening Hermia of a life of virginity if she refuses to follow her father’s wishes. These biased chains of society, however absolute they may seem, proved futile to capture Hermia. She eloped with Lysander, risking the possibility of being made a nun by Theseus, and throwing her calm and fairly wealthy life into the sewers. This was a courageous act of fighting to control one’s own destiny, something that women back in those days did not dare to do. Even when Hermia seems to have lost Lysander’s love as an effect of the love potion, she did not continuously plead and cry as another character, Helena, had done when her love was unrequited by Demetrius. “And have you grown so high in his esteem because I am so dwarfish and so low?...Speak:...
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