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Conflict with Authority in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Conflict with Authority in A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream the theme of conflict with authority is apparent and is the cause of the problems that befall the characters. It also is used to set the mood of the play. The passage below spoken by Theseus in the opening of the play clearly states this theme.

Be advised fair maid.

To you your father should be as god-
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure or disfigure it - A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1.1.46-51)

The first example of conflict with authority in the play is the premiere example and sets up the conflict for the rest of the play. This example that occurs during the play is in the opening scene of act 1. Here we see Theseus warning Hermia not to disobey her father and advising her that Egeus created her and can "discreate" her if he chooses. Hermia is reminded that Athenian law provides that a father shall have total control of his daughter’s life until the daughter is married. Even though Hermia does not want to marry Demetrius, the law says she has no choice and must conform to her father’s wishes. If Egeus’s authority hadn’t been the supreme authority, than Hermia and Lysander wouldn’t have had to flee Athens for their love.

The other major example of conflict with authority is also partly responsible for the friction that occurs in the play. This example occurs in the fairy world between Oberon and Titania. Oberon, as king of the fairies, is the supreme authority in the fairy world. Therefore, by disobeying him, Titania is defying her supreme authority. Her disobedience causes the conflict in nature that is apparen...


... middle of paper ...


... on the mood.

Through Theseus’s speech to Hermia, Shakespeare introduces and establishes a central theme that is readily apparent throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he also uses this theme to establish the central mood of the play. Theseus reveals the central theme of the play in the opening act, particularly in the lines being examined, and we see this theme throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It occurs in three different situations and is carried on throughout the rest of the play. Shakespeare also uses this theme to create the mood of the play. In this way the passage spoken by Theseus becomes a pivotal point of the play. It serves as the introduction of the central theme of the play and also as the main device Shakespeare used to set of the mood. Shakespeare uses this passage as a starting point for the direction that the rest of the play will take.

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