3 Apr. 2013
Theseus: the Duke of Athens
In A MidsummerNight’s Dream by William Shakespeare, Theseus is the duke of Athens. Theseus is perceived as a wise ruler. He has recently defeated Hippolyta’s land. He is madly in love with Hippolyta. Recently, they become engaged. The play is centered around their wedding. Shakespeare uses Theseus to show the difference between a perfect ruler and a ruler who lacks power and does not possess the ability to understand love. Different critical attitudes are seen by Theseus. Theseus is portrayed as a reasonable man who restores order to nature. According to Rhodes, people view Theseus “as a representative of reason and of rational love as opposed to the madness and irrational love of other Athenian lovers.” (Rhoads 1) Theseus is affected by his inability to understand. He fails to be a representative of a good government. Theseus also fails to fully grasp the concept of love. These limitations are made clear through the actions towards the young Athenian lovers. Theseus never understands the desire in his citizens.
The fairies in the play prove to have more power than Theseus. The play takes place primarily in the woods. Theseus finds himself watching more rather than participating. Rhoads expresses “the woods outside of Athens where the fairies preside is often associated by the critics with the irrationality and inconstancy of love.” (Rhoads 2) The fairies end up sorting out the lovers which Theseus could not do. Order is restored through the fairies.
Theseus is considered to be the most powerful character in the play. Theseus is considered to be a stern, heartless, and cruel character in the early part of the play. He gives Hermia the choice of marrying Demetrius, death, or become a nun. Near the end of the play Theseus gives in to Hermia’s wishes by allowing her and Lysander to get married. The article shows how Theseus view of love fits within the...