A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of the most famous and successful Shakespeare's plays. It is a clssical work that was written in 16th century. At that time England experienced the European Renaissance and Elizabeth I was at her reign. It is a romantic comedy. A Midsummer Night's Dream is about four young lovers who fall in and out of love in a very short time, because some ridiculous reasons. The two young men-Demetrius and Lysander all loved Hermia. However, Hermia's father-Egeus wanted her daughter married Demetrius but not Lysander. Egeus quoted an ancient Athenian law which said that a daughter must marry the suitor chosen by her father, or else face death or lifelong chastity worshipping Diana as a nunï¼ˆShakespeare, 2007ï¼‰. From this we can see the cruelty of the feudalism and the disadvantage of conservative ideas, but this is not the fault of Elizabeth I, she is a protestant, the conservative ideas is also her enemy, which is also the one of the reason for her lifelong unmarriage.
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The literature is the reflection of social reality of the time the author lives in (Hunter, 1985), Shakespeare's works is no exception, although there is fairies in A Midsummer Night's dream, it doesn't mean it is a completely fairytale without social reflections. For example, the quarrel between the king of the fairies Oberon and the Queen of fairies Titania over a servant-boy does reflect something. From the verse of Act II, Scene I : For Oberon is passing fell and wrath, Because that she as her attendant hath, A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king; She never had so sweet a changeling; And jealous Oberon would have the child, Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild; But she perforce withholds the loved boy, Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy: the verse shows Titania loves the boy so much , which cause the quarrel between the king and the queen, in the real life, there is a similar case, Queen Elizabeth I loved the boy Francis Bacon so much, which cause the quarrel between her minion Sir Robert Dudley and herself (Carr and Gerald, 2012). Here Elizabeth I is Titania, Oberon is Sir Robert Dudley and the boy is Sir Francis Bacon, the illegitimate son between the two (Carr and Gerald, 2012). Sir Robert Dudley hated this son because he want to be the Queen's husband, and the existence of this son is an obstacle. Shakespeare criticized them for not concentrate on the government business but struggles on personal affairs.
The most fanciful in the world is dream; the most beautiful is the love. The combination of dream and love is this play. Although some scenes in the play make us depressed, the play is to depress in order to rise. The atmosphere gradually turned relaxing (Charlton, 2005). This play has been analyzed from the feminism perspective for many times, because of the control of Egeus to his daughter Hermia and the control of the King to the Queen. In the early modern times people all believed that women should become wives and mothers, however, Elizabeth I challenged the belief. She was expected that she would marry and produce an heir so as to continue the Tudor line. But she never did that, despite that she had so many courtships. As she grew older, Elizabeth became famous for her virginity, and a cult grew up around her. Theseus is a symbol in this play. He represents authority in this play. Shakespeare satirized him for he used his power for sexual enjoyment. He was eager to marry the queen of Amazon, but Hippolyta married him because she had been conquered. This plot symbols that the woman did not want to marry but she must follow the man. Even the queen can not change the situation. This plot was to praise Elizabeth I, who did not marry just because the old belief. But Hermia's father-Egeus forced her to marry the one that he choosen revealed that although the Queen- Elizabeth I can challenge the ole belief, she did not change the position of women and did not change the condition of the society. In the play, the King used some tactics to punish the Queen. This symbolizes that after the marriage women also fellow the men. So we can see this play as the positive and negative critique of Elizabeth I, because although she get her own goal but she did not help the other women.
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Shakespeare, W.(2007). A Midsummer Night's Dream. New York: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC.
Charlton, H. (2005). Shakespearian Comedy. London: Routledge.
Hunter, I. (1985). On reflection theory: including remarks on John Docker's in a critical condition. Cultural Studies, 3 August !985.
Carr, F. & Gerald L.(2012). Bacon's royal Patronage. Available at http://www.sirbacon.org/links/parentage.htm. (Accessed: 1 August 2012).