Women's Roles in a Midsummer Night's Dream

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Drew Hombach
3-11-13
LA P7

Women’s Roles
The female characters in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are divergent compared to actual women in Shakespeare's time. There were some similarities though, like the fact that Egeus wants Hermia to get married to Demetrius even though she doesn’t want to. Back then, women usually didn’t have a say in who they married because the father would usually pick a man who would offer the father the best gift. The play didn’t really touch on wether or not the females were expected to breed after marriage, like the women in that time period did. Talking about love, Helena and Hermia were both lovesick. Helena tried way to hard to get Demetrius, she wouldn’t give up even after he called her terrible names. Women in Shakespeare’s time would not have followed their lover like a stalker!

The play gives an inaccurate perception of women that lived in the late 16th/early 17th century because Shakespeare made women seem like they weren’t property. There were parts where Hermia’s father said that he owned her and that she couldn’t go against his wishes, but none of the men (excluding Egeus) ever really claimed the women as “their property”. In the late 16th century women were considered property of their husbands. Women in that time period were also not defiant to their male counterparts, but the women in AMND were very different! Hermia refused to marry Demetrius and ran away with Lysander to get married to him where the Athenian law could not hurt them. That is probably the strongest example of defiance in the play. 


Both Helena and Hermia were strong women (the latter being stronger), but even though Helena seemed like a weak (or in my words, a “dumb blond”) character, she was stronger than most women in Shakespeare’s time. Those women were not defiant, submissive, and were less respected, whereas Hermia and Helena seemed to be equals to all of the men in the play and were brave enough to argue with the men. They were also not...
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