Types of Love in "A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Jessica Stevens
Professor Harrelson
English 1102
10/29/2012
Types of love in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”:

In the play, “A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare, several examples of love’s association with a higher power are presented like Theseus arranging a marriage between himself and Hippolyta, Egeus choosing who Hermia should marry and the fairies who have the ability to control love in the Enchanted Forest.  There are many instances in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” where love is coerced from or foisted upon unwilling persons. This romantic bondage comes from both man-made edicts and the other-worldly enchantment of love potions. Tinkering with the natural progression of love has consequences. These human and fairy-led machinations, which are brought to light under the pale, watery moon, are an affront to nature. Shakespeare knows that all must be restored to its place under fate’s thumb when the party of dreamers awakens.  Is love controlled by human beings who love one another, or is love controlled by a higher power? There are many people who believe that a higher power has control over love. An example of a higher power would be a cupid, a flying angel-type creature who is supposed to shoot arrows at people to make them fall in love. There are other people who reject the idea that a higher power controls love and that the people who experience love can control it. There are several examples of love in Shakespeare’s play: Forced love, parental love, romantic love (true love), unrequited love, and jealous love.

In the instance of Theseus and Hippolyta, Theseus won his soon to be wife through a war. He was the war hero and she was his spoil. Theseus and Hippolyta’s marriage is used by Shakespeare to portray forced love. “I wooed thee with my sword” said Theseus. Hippolyta, having been the Queen of the Amazons, has been conquered by Theseus and is therefore under obligation to marry him, hence showing forced love. She is dutiful to Theseus, who in return treats her well. When Theseus said “wooed” this could perhaps imply Theseus is truly in love with Hippolyta and does wish to treat her properly. In Act 5 scene 1, Hippolyta says “My Theseus”, (Shakespeare pg.1690) this shows she is willing to marry him, and this shows the nature of their love is also very mature, which contrasts from the young love of the four lovers. Theseus and Hippolyta’s maturity is also reflected in their speech. Their words are much more controlled and not as rash or irrational as those of the four lovers. In the beginning of the play, it is clear that Theseus is more sympathetic to Hermia’s situation than Egeus, yet he also up-holds the law as the ruler of Athens. This shows he is dutiful and reinforces the idea of maturity. However, at the end of the play, just before the wedding, he permits Hermia and Lysander to marry; this decision was probably heavily affected by his own experience, especially since it was his wedding day and this joyous occasion which lingered on his mind. His love for Hippolyta had probably grown leading to the marriage, and he too understood the four lovers’ love, and too left him vulnerable to the effects of love. (BookRags)

Another type of love Shakespeare shows is parental love. Egeus and Hermia’s father-daughter relationship illustrates parental love: Egeus said, “She will marry Demetrius or be put to death” (movie) and “As she is mine, and all my right of her.” (Shakespeare pg.1650) In the past, when this play is set, the law allowed fathers much more power and control over their daughters, and Hermia, in this way, is seen as her father’s property, so he may command her as he will. This shows his authority and commanding love as part of paternal. This could also be a façade for Egeus’ love for his daughter, as perhaps he has to appear commanding and strict, since society deemed it so. Also, Egeus might be afraid of the uncertainty of his daughter’s future, and therefore having control over her...
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