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A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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What are the key comedic methods used in the subversion of the role of women in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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Subversion is the act of attacking societal practices with the object of reforming them.  By setting his play in Athens, Shakespeare was able to use the device of the terrible Athenian law that said that fathers had complete control over their daughters to both add humor and empower the role of women.

Hermia refuses to obey the law.  She decides it is better to run away with Lysander than remain and do her father’s bidding.

I do entreat your Grace to pardon me.(60)

I know not by what power I am made bold,

Nor how it may concern my modesty,

In such a presence here to plead my thoughts (Act 1, Scene 1)

Hermia does end up marrying Lysander, because she is able to run off with him and then ends up with him in front of the palace, knowing not how she got there.  Since through the fairy intervention Demetrius is in love with Helena again, Hermia is able to marry the man she chooses.  Egeus does not like it, but can do nothing about it because Theseus overrules him.

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