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Queen Elizabeth I and A Midsummer Night's Dream

            The headstrong and chaotic personalities of the female characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream represent Queen Elizabeth I's resistance to male dominance throughout her reign as a Monarch of England. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare not only composes a simple and thoughtless comedy, but he constructs a social commentary that investigates the various gender roles and explores the inferiority of women in Elizabethan society. .
             In A Midsummer Night's Dream elements of social critique are present in the opening seen with the conflict between Hermia and her father Egeus. Rather than submitting to her father's wishes, Hermia's headstrong attitude questions the belief that women are thought to always submit to the wishes of the male dominant authority. This independent spirit in a woman is a complete contradiction of the way women were believed to act at the time. At the time when Shakespeare composed this play a woman's role in society was limited to that of the wife and mother. Hermia's resistance to her father's wishes conflicts with the idea that outside the role of the wife and mother, women could not be trusted to assume male power. Shakespeare takes a stab at society's obsession with male dominance through Hermia's resistance because by disobeying Egeus's wishes Hermia socially castrates him as head of the family. Thus this conflict of opposition to male dominance reflects upon Queen Elizabeth I's attitude of resisting male authority through her intention to remain unmarried. .
             The male characters in the play use love as a catalyst to manipulate the women to achieve their desires. Theseus established his abundance of power over his wife Hippolyta when he stated that their marriage flourished as "[Theseus] 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 reveling" (1.1.16-19). Hippolyta's submission to the authority of Theseus extends much farther than her submitting to the authority of a man.

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