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In Shakespeare's time, daughters were either ruled by their fathers or their husbands. At the beginning of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the audience finds Hermia standing before the Duke because she does not want to obey her father and marry Demetrius. In fact, she wants to marry Lysander instead. When she counsels with the Duke, he informs her that if she doesn't marry Demetrius like her father wants, then she either needs to go to a convent and become a nun or suffer the punishment of death. After Hermia asks what she is to do, Theseus says it this way, "Either to die the death or to abjure/ For ever the society of men" (I.i.67-68). Either way, Hermia will not get what she wants (to marry Lysander) if she decides to obey or disobey her father.
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