A Midsummer Nights Dream: A Nightmare for Women
Up until the turn of the century, women have been looked at as the weaker sex in comparison to men. The right to vote wasnt established until 1920, and previous to that, women were much underrepresented. The farther back in history you go, the more poorly women are treated and portrayed. The Bard himself was no stranger to overlooking the importance and equality of women. In A Midsummer Nights Dream, Helena is portrayed as jealous, petty, and pathetic, Hermia as solely an object, and Titania as being gullible.
Helena is depicted as a poor sole thats jealous of Hermias beauty and fawning over Demetrius who will never love her back. When talking to Hermia, Helena rants, O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill! O that my prayers could such affection move! None, but your beauty. Would that fault were mine! (1.1.198-204). Helena is depicted as a pathetic woman wasting her time wishing she were someone else. In addition, she obsesses over Demetrius and says, And even for that do I love you the more. I am your spaniel, and, Demetrius, The more you beat me, I will fawn on you. Use me but as your spaniel (2.1.206-209). Helena begs to be treated poorly, for any bit of attention from Demetrius is better than none at all. Shakespeare portrays women as pathetic and in need of male attention.
Hermia is the beautiful woman who is wanted by both Lysander and Demetrius. She is fought over as if she were an object or prize to win. Demetrius states, Relent, sweet Hermia; and Lysander, yield Thy crazed title to my certain right (1.1.93-94). He says how its his right to own Hermia, rather than her own choice. Lysander then replies, My fortunes every way as fairly rankd, If not with vantage, as Demetriuss; And, which is more than all these boasts can be, I am belovd of beauteous Hermia. Why should not I then prosecute my right? (1.1.103-107). Lysanders argument to Theseus is that hes better than Demetrius, therefore why shouldnt he take whats rightfully his, Hermia. Shakespeare denotes women as objects to own rather than beings with choices.
Titania is the Queen of the Fairies, and easily tricked by King Oberon. Titania has a little boy whom which Oberon wishes to turn into his henchmen. However, Titania refuses to relinquish him. Therefore, Oberon uses a purple flower to make Titania fall in love with the first creature she sees. It so happens that when Titania awakes under the spell, she falls in love with Bottom, who has the head of an ass courtesy of Pucks trickery. Oberons plan was to take the boy while Titania was distracted by her love for Bottom. Shakespeare represents women as foolish and gullible.
The representation of women in this play is very poor. The Bard uses negative stereotypes as dispositions for his characters. Women are portrayed as pathetic, jealous, needy and gullible. In addition, women are just prizes to win rather than of equal importance. Thankfully the 20th century brought around a new view on women and our position in society. Although some aspects in the world are still prejudice, we continue to grow and gain our much deserved equality.