Female Sexuality in Shakespeare

12 December 2016

His claim that nuns are “thrice blessed” gives evidence of the importance of  religious backing to defend his decision, which reflects the impact of religious principle on supporting a patriarchal society. Regardless of the portrayal of the Athenian patriarchy in the beginning of the play, Shakespeare creates more tense situations where those values are challenged. While Hermia’s beauty is credited to her father , it does not occur to him that perhaps hiss sever strictness may be the cause of his “stubborn harshness”.

And when Hermia asks if only “my father looked but with my eyes”,  Theseus responds by rearranging her words “Rather your eyes must with his judgement look”. (AMSND 1. 1. 56-7) This exchange of points of view signifies the extent that Hermias will and desire is suppressed by patriarchal rule. Her desire is treated as insubordinate feminine emotion that must be controlled by masculine reason, which is summed up in the quote “fit your fancies to your fathers will”. (AMSND 1. 1. 18) While Athenian Law declares masculine values, fairyland in several aspects bestows patriarchal norms, and as an alternative suggests that “Titania is an independent monarch with her own court . . . [that is] not subservient, to her husband’s. ” (Penny Rixon, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in Shakespeare: Texts and Contexts,P23) In contrast to Theseus, Titania is hasty to take control of her own sexuality, unveiling to her fairies in the attendance of Oberon that she has “forsworn his bed and company”

Female Sexuality in Shakespeare Essay Example

Yet regardless of the fairy rulers open relationship, it is Oberon who is suspect of sexual deviances, with Titania stating his playing “pipes of corn . . . / To amorous Phillida” (Dream 2. 1. 67–8). In contrast, Titania is not opposed for satisfying her sexuality, but is alternatively blamed of allowing Theseus to indulge his own lusts with Ariadne and Antiopa. Peter Holland understanding of the play’s imagery of the moon as signifying Diana’s change from “the goddess of the ‘cold fruitless moon’ . . . into the goddess of married chastity,” (Peter Holland, “Introduction” to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, P33.  a transformation is carried out through the dissolution of the reaction to of Cupid’s flower by Dian’s bud, which in turn, reflects Hermia and Helena’s path toward chaste marriage and motherhood. However, Titania’s enraged moon metaphorically enacts Theseus’ previous fear of an uncontainable femininity, a understanding highlighted in the production by Peter Brook (1970) who cast the same actors in the roles of Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania to express “repressed emotional turbulence” (Penny Rixon, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in Shakespeare: Texts and Contexts,P38)in the Athenian relationship.

Critics contend that the part of male lover establishes “a ‘feminized’ position insofar as it separates men from . . . military pursuits,” (Valerie Traub, “Gender and Sexuality in Shakespeare” p137) and undeniably Helena views their conduct as deficient masculinity, stating that, “If you were men, as men you are in show, / You would not use a gentle lady so” (AMSND 3. 2. 152–3). In contrast, other critics claim that the consequence of the drug overstates the “normal male practice . . . f inconstancy that is ironically displaced from its conventional place as an attribute of women. ”  (Peter Holland, “Introduction” to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, P63. ) This irony stresses a double standard in patriarchal ideology; although Theseus, in the first scene, imperatively chastises Hermia for wanting the wrong man, he proposes to educate Demetrius for his shattered vows to Helena. Also, the drug seems to produce masculine qualities in Titania, with her insistence that Bottom “shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no” (AMSND 3. . 135) repeating Theseus’ previous efforts to control Hermia’s disobedience. However, if the incidental result of the drug is to convert Helena’s gentle evocation of school-day friendship into the vicious statement that Hermia “was a vixen when she went to school” (AMSND 3. 2. 325), then her previous claim that the friends are “with two seeming bodies but one heart” (AMSND 3. 2. 213) reiterates a female kinship existing under regular conditions.

That such affinity is debated in different terms for the male characters is recognized early with Theseus’ decision to tell Egeus and Demetrius that, “I have some private schooling for you both”

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