Man on Top Sexuality and Male Dominance in William Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Night's Dream

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In describing William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream as similar to a fertility rite, Shirley Garner discusses the sexual, psychological, and social implications of Shakespeare's comedy. More than a simple celebration of erotic love, the play, Garner maintains, reflects certain attitudes characteristic of male-dominated societies. For example, a woman's entire existence, particularly her sexual and emotional life, is controlled by a powerful male figure, as illustrated by Egeus's almost incestuous possessiveness toward his daughter Hermia. Further, the extent of a woman's sexual and emotional freedom, Garner argues, is determined by male desire. Thus conventional heterosexual love flourishes only if certain conditions, determined by the male protagonists, are satisfied. For example, a woman must sever all her emotional ties with other women to assuage her husband's fears of possible rejection. As Garner concludes, "the male characters think they can keep their women only if they divide and conquer them. “Only then will Jack have Jill; only then will their world flourish” (Garner p.47). While I would not agree with some of Garner’s theories in regards to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Garner is correct in the fact that more than any of Shakespeare's comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream serves the purpose, willingly or otherwise, of promoting Heterosexual values, as well as the idea that a woman’s total existence is controlled by men, and finally that the male characters feel the need to dominate women in order to achieve what they want. Sexuality as a theme in A Midsummer nights dream is one of the more blatantly obvious undertones of the play and the need to promote heterosexuality in the face of perceived homosexual attractions is personified in the battle between Oberon and TItania over the child from India. The story of the “lovely boy” is told from two points of view, Puck's and Titania's. Puck tells a companion fairy that Oberon is “passing fell and...
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