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What are the gender issues in A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare?

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swarnamalis | College Teacher | Salutatorian

Posted March 30, 2012 at 5:42 PM via web

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What are the gender issues in A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 31, 2012 at 5:01 AM (Answer #1)

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The issues of gender in William Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, are centered around issues of gender roles and power relationships. They can be investigated in terms of the relationships between the male and female members of pairs of characters.

In the opening, Hippolyta and Theseus discussing their marriage. The Amazon queen, Hippolyta, in Greek myth, is an example of female power, independence, and matriarchy. However, she is conquered by Theseus, perhaps representing the conquest of earlier matriarchal society by patriarchy. The subduing of Hippolyta, invoked at the opening of the play, suggests that female power is something to be subdued, and that marriage is based on asymmetrical power relationships and subordination of women.

The Titania-Oberon pairing is also one in which we have a powerful female queen in a power struggle with an even more powerful male king. As in the Theseus-Hippolyta pairing, Oberon eventually triumphs in the contest.

The gender dynamics among the young lovers also end in conventional marriages with the women assuming a subordinate position to their husbands.

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