Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is widely regarded as nothing more than a romantic tale of light drama. Although the play is beautiful and funny, there’s also a clear trace of dark themes and violence, a twisted underside that’s distinct from its loving themes. Midsummer may conclude with a series of happy weddings, but along the way, it clearly shows how male to female relationships are portrayed to show a large amount of violence, throughout Shakespearian times.
At some point in the play, nearly all the male characters are intimidating their female counterparts with unnecessary aggression. Theseus, for instance, won Hippolyta’s affection not by seduction or courtship but through military victory, having conquered the Amazons, her woman warrior tribe. In the opening scene, he tells her, ‘I wooed you with my blade, And won your love doing thy wounds,’ drawing an apparent connection between love and attack. Egeus openly threatens to kill Hermia, his aunt, later on in the same scene if she does not agree to marry Demetrius. On his part, Oberon does not place Titania in danger of actual physical harm, but he does brainwash her with a love potion to humiliate and humiliate her. Lysander may be the only male inadvertently trying to hurt his mate. But even so, Hermia is unable to avoid risk. Only after the magical Lysander leaves her, she wakes out of a nightmare, shaking with terror as she explains how she dreamed she saw ‘a snake eat her heart out.’ While at this moment Lysander is not in charge of his own actions, Hermia’s subconscious still reports his desertion as an act of abuse.
The primary two female characters in the play, Helena and Hermia, end up tolerating all of the violent activity. An example is when Lysander tells Helena, that he’s ‘sick’ at the sight of her. He also threatens her by saying he would ‘do mischief’ in the woods, which was a much more threatening term at the time of the seventeenth century. She embraces the aggression directed at her and turns it into an argument, pleading for him to treat her like his “spaniel,” implying that the more he inflicts harm on her, the more she will “fawn” on him. Later on in the play, the two women give in to the hostile environment and fight with one another. Their encounter is comedically portrayed as a friendly feud but considering the fact that the fight took place after Helena begged Hermia not to fight by saying, “rend their ancient love asunder,” the fight possessed a much darker tone. Because of Hermia’s ignorance, the two begin to wreak havoc on one another, despite going as far as to refer to them as “sisters” because of the tight bond they once possessed. There was never any evidence of the sisters fully repairing their relationship even at the end of the play, so the harm they brought upon one another was possibly permanent.
Romantic conflict is depicted in the play as a power that could spread, as though it were a disease. When Titania and Oberon meet each other in Act II, scene I Titania portrays a chaotic universe overflowing with sickly clouds and decaying vegetations. She claims that this mess originated out of the conflict between her and Oberon and that they are the ‘parents’ of the present state of instability on the world.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream concludes with many joyful (if magically induced) celebrations, but even the excitement of the closing party does not banish the menacing undercurrent of the play entirely. A clownish show commemorates the nuptials, but importantly, the craftsmen’s motif is a grim one: a loving couple facing a brutal and tragic end. On top of that, Puck and Oberon’s blessings appear to invoke more fear than goodwill. The more conventional blessing Oberon gives, wishing the couples fertility and enduring happiness. He also describes, however, ‘blots in history,’ such as harelips and other deformities, calling attention to the hazards that young children may face just though he wards them safe. On his part, Puck spends much of his speech explaining all the terrible creatures lurking outside the door of the wedding hall, such as starving lions and ‘gaping’ grave ghosts. In conclusion, we don’t know whether the newlyweds are feeling the flush of marital joy internally, or whether the tension that bubbled during the play has unsettled them: when Puck locks the door to the night’s awful monsters, he also blocks out the crowd. Despite our characters ‘final destiny so vague, A Midsummer Night’s Dream can not be accurately considered a romantic comedy.