A Midsummer Night\'s Dream: Women In Elizabethian England


I think something very interesting in this play is the way in which
woman were seen in Elizabethan England during Shakespeare\'s day. The play gives
numerous examples of the way woman are treated as second class citizens; for
instance, the laws concerning marriage and the position of men in society.
When Hermia states that she does not want to marry Demetrius, the man of
her fathers choice, and would rather marry Lysander, she is placed in a
difficult position. Her father seeks out the aid of Theseus, the Duke of Athens,
who states the law and what she can do in such a situation: marry who her
father says, become a nun, or die. All three of these “choices” involved
sterility either emotional, sexual, or absolute, respectively. These don\'t
really sound like choices to me, nor do they sound like choices to Hermia.
Woman, especially daughters, were to do what men commanded.
Another example of how woman were seen as second class citizens is how
they were supposed to treat men. Theseus proclaims to Hermia that she should
see her father as a God for he alone is responsible for her being. No mention
is made of Hermia\'s mother. It seemed to be the view at this time that men were
wholly responsible for the creation of children and woman were just a vessel for
the birthing. Which is curious because one would expect woman to hold a higher
place for giving birth to children, the lifeline to the future.
During the Shakespearean era woman were seen as second class citizens.
Although the start of marriage for love was just beginning, woman were still
expected to do what males told them. In addition, they were seen as a mere
vessel for birth and did not play an integral role in the creation of a child.
Men were to be treated with respect and reverence.

Category: English