A Midsummer Night's Dream Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What does Theseus promise Hippolyta in act 1, scene 1?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Theseus gained Hippolyta as his soon-to-be bride by capturing her in battle. As queen of the Amazons, she was not used to bending to patriarchal authority. However, she seems at this point in the play to have acquiesced gracefully to her fate.

Theseus notes the violent way he gained her "love," but promises her that

I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph, and with reveling.
In other words, rather than a battle (as before), the wedding day will be joyful, peaceful, and festive, Theseus states.
However, if we look closely at the wording, it seems as if Theseus is also envisioning his wedding in terms of a Roman triumphal march, where he is showing off the spoils of war. In this case, these "spoils" would be Hippolyta. The words "pomp," "triumph," and "reveling" bring to mind a parade and military celebration. It would appear that Theseus is still thinking of his new bride as a trophy or conquest. This is one type of love in a play that examines many varieties of love's lunacy.

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huffito1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would also add to this section that Theseus makes a promise to tame Hippolyta and turn her into a civilized individual. Theseus and Hippolyta’s relationship should be looked at as a hunter taming a wild beast. The question being asked is can Theseus break the free spirit of Hippolyta once queen of the Amazons? Can a wild spirit ever be truly caged and is Theseus biting off more than he can chew in the process? Look to the fact as well, that their relationship mirrors others in the play. With Oberon, what is he promising his fairy companion and how does go about ensuring that their relationship continues.

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ms-t eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Theseus promises Hippolyta a wedding "with pomp, triumph, and revelling". This is in contrast to the way that he won Hippolyta, capturing her in battle and doing her injury.

Theseus: "Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,/ And won thy love doing thee injuries;/ But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling."

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