Who is the main villain in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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tamarakh's profile pic

Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The main villain would be the character who creates the greatest conflict in the play. There are two characters who create conflict, Egeus and Puck. However, out of these two characters, Egeus is the only one who remains stuck in his ways without wanting to present a solution while Puck resolves issues in the end. Therefore, I would argue that Egeus is the greatest villain of the play.

Egeus creates one of the play's most central conflicts by insisting his daughter marry Demetrius instead of Lysander. Egeus is even threatening her with death, in accordance with the "ancient privilege of Athens" (I.i.42). As a result of his threats and his petition to Duke Theseus to enforce the law that will see to Hermia being punished, Hermia decides to runaway with Lysander out of Athens. Hence, Egeus serves as the main catalyst that drives all four Athenian lovers into the woods that night, which of course leads to further conflicts in the plot. Not only is Egeus a main source for all of the play's troubles, when the couples are finally paired off as they should be, Egeus still begs for, not only Hermia's punishment, but Lysander's as well, as we see in his lines:

I beg the law, the law upon his head.
They would have stolen away, they would, Demetrius,
Thereby to have defeated you and me:
You of your wife, and me of my consent. (IV.i.156-159)

The play's resolution is only fully brought about by Duke Theseus, who, in his wisdom, overrides Egeus and commands the two couples to be married as they are.

In contrast to Egeus, Puck creates his fair share of mischief, thereby creating conflicts of his own, but Puck also resolves them. According to Oberon's commands, Puck is responsible for finally pairing the couples appropriately. In addition, in his final speech, he asks the audience for forgiveness, as we see in his lines, "Give me your hands, if we be friends, / And Robin shall restore amends" (V.i.432-433).

Hence, since Egeus only continuously creates and adds to the play's conflict while Puck contributes to the resolution, we can say that Egeus is the true villain of the story.

ryanbiss's profile pic

ryanbiss | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Thee is no clear main villian.In the play every character has a good side and a bad side.

Here Are some possiblities:

  • Puck:¬†was the one who caused the commotion.
  • Helena: Backstabbed her friend, hermia, by tell ing demetrius of her plan.
  • Oberon: used magic to embarass Titania for selfish reasons(The Changeling).
  • Lysander: ran away with hermia, taking Egeus's only daughter/son.
  • And more...

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