The Need/Want of Control in Midsummer Night’s Dream


When you read or watch the play “Midsummer Night’s Dream” you find a lot of relationships, whether it's Lysander and Hermia, Theseus and Hippolyta, Oberon and Titania or even at the end of the play Demetrius and Helena. All these lovers have their own respective problems or no problems at all but if there is something all these lovers have in common, it is their wanting to convince or even control their partner/lover, whether it’s Oberon demanding Titania to give up the changeling boy or Helena believing that she could control/change Demetrius’s hate for her into love. It doesn’t even have to be the lovers, for example Egeus orders Hermia to marry Demetrius or face death, either way, characters wanting to control one another in this play is constantly shown throughout this play. While some may say that it makes this play up and people don’t actually want to control other people, Shakespeare kept using all these examples of the characters controlling or wanting to control other characters to show what people back then and now want.

In “Midsummer Night’s Dream” most characters want to control one another, it shows the first example of this in the first act. In this act after seeing Hermia fall in love with Lysander, Egeus tells Hermia that she must marry Demetrius or face death, as if this situation couldn’t get worse enough, Egeus then makes Theseus involved in this mess. Theseus comes out calm telling Hermia that she could be a nun if she won't marry Demetrius to which Hermia declines and says she would rather die than be without Lysander. In this act Egeus shows the control he wants over his daughter, yes Hermia declined Egeus proposal for her to marry Demetrius but to risk someone's life just for something to go your way shows how far Egeus will go to have Hermia marry Demetrius. 

The next example of wanting control comes in act two scene one where Oberon and Titania argue. In this scene, Oberon demands Titania to give him the changeling boy as he wants this boy to become a servant of his, Titania refuses as this boy is the child of one of her followers who died while giving birth to said boy. After this the couple goes on about jealousy and other stuff but the importance of control in this scene is pivotal. Oberon wants the boy and seems like he will do whatever it takes to get him (this was proven later in the play when Puck under Oberon’s order puts Titania a love potion into her eyes leading Titania to fall in love with Bottom and forget about the changeling boy altogether so Oberon can come in and easily take the boy). I will now go to my last example of control in this play, this time it revolves around Helena and how she yearned for Demetrius’s love throughout the play.

Throughout the play it is shown that Helena loves Demetrius and at the end of the play both loved each other but where I see control in this situation is right after Lysander and Hermia tell Helena their plans to elope. After she thinks about this for a while Helena concludes that she could somehow control the situations outcome, she believes that if she tells Demetrius Hermia and Lysander’s plans to elope Demetrius would see how loyal Helena was to him and fall in love with her. This is likely the most improbable scene of control in this play that I have mentioned as this scene does a poor job of showing wanting control compared to the two prior parts of the play but with all that being said I still believe there is at least a slight bit of wanting control in this scene. In this scene Helena believes this situation could fall in her favour if she tells Demetrius Hermia’s plan, this differs from the other two scenes of control because this scene is almost like a trade off, on one hand according to Helena’s belief, she would get Demetrius love once again, and Demetrius would know Hermia and Lysander’s plans and put a stop to it. This plan of Helena’s thinking that she could control the outcome of this situation backfired horribly and instead of Demetrius loving her Helena went back to chasing after Demetrius.

It was shown all over this play that many character value control/power as one of their first priorities for themselves, and I believe that this could be spoken about the real world as well, most dictatorships and regimes come simply on the base of control and power one has over another. Control is a powerful action and I believe Shakespeare does a good job of showing this with all his different examples mentioned in the play, whether it’s a family or relationship issue Shakespeare shows why one may strive towards control and power which is one of the many reasons why this play was seen as one of Shakespeare’s best plays.

 

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