Logic vs. Magic
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream draws sharp parallels between the two sets of order in the play; one seen in Athens, and the other in the forest. Athens is the paragon of order, with Theseus ruling in a logical and equitable manner. The "enchanted" forest is a place of chaos and magic, untouched by such logical laws as we see in Athens. Faeries and inconstant love rule here, while logic and laws govern the movements of Athenians. Both places serve different qualities, and together the two orders end up attending to both the rational and restless aspects that the characters present.
The order of Athens is one of firm laws, executed with a firm hand. This is vividly visible, even in the very beginning of the play. In Act I Scene i, Hermia's father, Egeus, presents the dilemma to Theseus, the objective ruler of Athens. Hermia wishes to marry Lysander, but Egeus wishes her to marry Demetrius, and therefore invokes the ancient Athenian right of a father to force a daughter to marry whomever the father might choose, or have Hermia put to death or cloistered. Hermia contends that she should be able to choose among her suitors. Theseus, being the model of justice that he is, opts in favor of the father's argument and the law, and orders her to marry Demetrius or choose between two harsh options, "Either to die the death, or to abjure / forever the society of men." (I,i) The next time Theseus appears is after the now-happy couples return from their timberland excursion. He is incredulous about Demetrius's change of heart, in that Demetrius seemed so obstinate to win Hermia. It is impossible for Theseus to understand the magic of this inconstant and magic love. His view of love is one of a lucid institution, where both parties contemplate the consequences and other logical effects of their logical love. To support his rejection of this irrational love, we see Theseus claim that "Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, / Such shaping...
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