The Men of Rule in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Essay

In William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” two worlds are distinctly contrasted throughout the play. These worlds serve to be the extremes both in thought and action. One world is the Athenian state; which is governed by order, law and reason; whereas, the forest or fairy world lies within the domain of imagination, where anything is possible. While both worlds are paralleled in the play, they have complex interactions in which the characters succumb to influences to influences from both of them. The ruler’s of these two worlds, Theseus in Athens and Oberon in the Fairy world, play critical roles in the events of the story in which their actions and decisions transform the lives of the young lovers. Theseus’ initial rulings for Hermia provide the exposition for the comedy, while Oberon’s actions direct the complication in the plot, which is then resolved by both Theseus and Oberon (May 75). As rulers, they wield great power, both the within the law as well as the mystical sense. These two rulers have responsibilities not only to their kingdoms and subjects but also to their own moral conscience. Both Theseus and Oberon show sympathy to the young lovers but differ in their personal beliefs and the way that they treat their subjects.

Theseus and Oberon are both compassionate and understanding to the set of young lovers; Hermia and Lysander, and Demitrius and Helena. This is a complicated love triangle that is entangled in law and love. Demitrius has been promised Hermia, although she has a strong mutual love with Lysander. To complicate matters more, Helena is enamored of Demitrius, although this love is not returned anymore. Theseus, Duke of Athens, and the body of law needs to upkeep the standards of Athenian society…

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…r interactions toward their subjects, they do however both mean well. While Oberon is slightly more irrational he still fixes problems in the end allowing for a resolution to the comedy. Likewise, Theseus is not perfect either, he may be lacking passion and emotion when it is needed; however, he still shows sympathy for Hermia against the law and her father, and love for his wife. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” mixes two worlds, one of order and reason and the other of imagination or impulse. These worlds come together to bring happiness and love in the end, although when separated cause chaos and conflict.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The Pelican Shakespeare. New York: Penguin Books Inc. 2000.

May, Robert. “Lesson 6: The Early Modern Period.” English 110S Course Notes. Queen’s University. Kingston. Summer 2010. Course Manual.

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