The Forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

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Only in the forest do women exercise power. How far do you agree with this statement?

The forest in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is used as a green space, a place where the social norms don’t apply. At the time of writing, Shakespearean England was ruled by a female monarch, Queen Elizabeth the 1st who was only the 2nd queen of England in their own right. This power held by a woman at the time was not the norm, women were subservient of men.

Hermia has been promised to Demetrius by her father; however she is unwilling to marry him as she is in love with Lysander. We are introduced to this theme when they visit Thesus, the figure of authority in the play, who makes it clear that women are not to have their own identity, but instead are to be ‘a form in wax’ (I.i.49), meaning that women are to exist without existing. Women were not allowed to gain an education, or have jobs of importance. This shows that Thesus (Duke of Athens) doesn’t believe that women show have power. However, in the forest, Hermia exerts her dominance over Lysander as she insists that he ‘lie further off’ (II.ii.43) so she can keep her virginity as she is less likely to be tempted into having sex with him. At the time a woman who had lost her virginity before she was married, especially to someone whom she was not betrothed, was a social sinner

and would make a woman was less likely to marry. By telling Lysander to ‘not lie so near’ (II.ii.43), Hermia is showing that a woman can tell a man she doesn’t want to have sex with them, and that they, men, shouldn’t force a woman to have sex with them, as for women of the time their virtue was everything. Therefore, by Hermia telling Lysander to ‘lie further off’ (II.ii.56) when they fall asleep in the forest she w...

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...he forest, which fits with the role of the forest which is as a green space. Therefore, the women on 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' do exercise power within the forest but they also show signs of power outside the forest in Athens.

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