Literatureis a field that has been undergoing a tremendous transformation overtime. As a tool, it has been used by different scholars to highlightsome of the challenges being experienced by the society. As such,literature has played a role in pinpointing problems in the societyand solutions that enable the community to correct the said issues.Shakespeare is one individual whose contribution to the field ofliterature is almost unquantifiable. Through his different scholarlyworks, he was able to reflect different challenges and realities ofthe society. One such contribution is through his work in A MidsummerNight Dreams. The paper evaluates the father-daughter relationship aspresented in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night Dreams. It seeks toshow that the relationship portrayed in this play is that ofpossession as opposed to love that should exist between a parent anda child.
Thefather-daughter relationship in A Midsummer Night Dreams is portrayedthrough the characters of Egeus and Hermia. The setting of the entireplay has been able to expand as a result of the relationship betweenthese two characters. Egeus is presented to the audience as aTheseus` court nobleman. He is at odds with his daughter because hedoes not accept her choice of a suitor opting to impose hispreference. Hermia, on the other hand, is a beautiful young woman ofAthens who is being sought by two men who are in love with her. Shehas a strong affection for Lysander, but her father is insistent onher to marry Demetrius (Steppat, 2010). The difference of opinionbecomes a major issue throughout the play and this allows one towitness the father-daughter relationship that existed during the timeof Shakespeare’s life.
Thefather-daughter relationship represented in the play is anything butcordial. This is a complete opposite of what is being witnessed intoday’s society where there is a genuine affection between fathersand their young daughters. In this form of a relationship, a child istreated as a normal human being with the ability to learn to choosewhat is best for them. Fathers in today world are less interested inbasing their affection towards their female offsprings on thepossible benefits that they can acquire. However, the setting of theplay provides a different reality where the relationship is betweenthe two is viewed from different perspectives as illustrated below.
Firstly,the father-daughter relationship in the play is portrayed as onebetween a person and their possessions. In the Athenian society, aman was considered as the head of the family and both his wife andchildren were considered his property with which he could do as hewanted. In such a scenario, the daughter, Hermia, was not allowed toform her thoughts and freely express what she wanted as they wereinsignificant, especially if they were at odds with what her father’sdesires (Walters, 2013). In this setting, Egeus emphasizes that hisdaughter is his right and it is based on this that he wants totransfers her to Demetrius.
Thefather-daughter relationship in A Midsummer Night Dreams is alsodefined by disobedience. As stated earlier, Hermia was intended to bemarried off to Demetrius, but she is adamant that her heart onlybelongs to Lysander and is willing to fight for this love. In theplay, it is evident that she is aware of her responsibility to herfather and the need to fulfil his wishes. However, she defiesexpectation by speaking her mind in an effort to make a case as towhy her father should not be a barrier to the relationship betweenher and Lysander (Schwenke, Chalk, Alderdice, & Palani, 2012). Itis here that she shows her unwillingness to play the role of a lovingdaughter who is ready to carry out the wishes of her father withouthaving any consideration for the consequences.
Inaddition to disobedience, the father-daughter relationship is definedby rebellion. At first, Lysander is willing and ready to sacrificehis love for Hermia to ensure that she complies with her father’swishes and marries Demetrius (Iftikhar, 2015). However, he changeshis stand when she agrees to run away with him. Hermia`s love forLysander makes her blind to all that is at stake, including herfather’s opinion and is ready to leave her life behind just to havea chance of being happy with the man she loves. The rebellion issignificant as it shows her determination to escape the subornationwhich she is experiencing while in her father`s place. As such, sheis willing to leave behind the security that her current statusprovides and venture into a new world with the hope of holding on tothe love she has for Lysander.
Lastly,the father-daughter relationship in A Midsummer Night Dreams isinfluenced by the society in which the play has been set. In thebeginning, Theseus, who is a heroic Duke of Athens and therepresentation of power and influence in the society, tells Hermiathat she should view her father as a god (Shakespeare, 2015). Givenhis status in the community, the statement is a representation of theexpectation of the society of all girls in relation to their maleparents. Hermia is expected to tow a particular line which includescarrying out her father`s wishes even when she does not agree withhim. The way she conducts herself throughout the play is also anindication that she is aware of what is expected of her. This isfurther reiterated by the actions of Lysander who is willing to allowher to marry another man just to ensure she does not the defy thenorm by disobeying her father.
Thefather-daughter relationship in this play has some implications.Firstly, it is a barrier to several characters becoming happy withHermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena all unable to settle downbecause of the impact of the relationship between Egeus and hisdaughter on the lives of these characters. Additionally, thedevelopments that result because of the relation in the form ofdisobedience and rebellion portray a society that is growing tired ofbeing held hostage by unfavourable practices. It also showschallenges met when change is imminent and the sacrifices made bymembers to ensure this is achieved.
Fromthe discussion above, it is evident that the father-daughterrelationship shown in A Midsummer Night Dreams is not cordial but onethat is defined by rebellion, disobedience, and viewing of people aspieces of property. Though this is portrayed by a play, it is anindication of the society in which the author came from and thechallenges that the people from that time faced. Thus, this isevidence of the vital role that literature continues to play inmirroring critical issues affecting different people. Thus, it isimportant to encourage the study of literature as this will ensuremore people have the tools required to expose different issues in thesociety. This can be done by availing vital resources that enhancethe study of literature. Such an action will go far in ensuring abetter future where issues impacting the society are brought to lightand thus ensuring they are addressed.
Iftikhar,S. (2015). A Midsummer Night`s Dream: Fiction or Truth? Language inIndia, 15(11).
Schwenke,P., Chalk, D., Alderdice, S., & Palani, A. (2012). A MidsummerNight`s Dream teachers`notes. University of Southern Queensland, pdf.
Shakespeare,W. (2015). A Midsummer Night`s Dream-With Audio. Oxford UniversityPress.
Steppat,M. (2010). Feminine Identities in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Walters,L. (2013). Oberon and Masculinity in Shakespeare`s A MidsummerNight`s Dream. ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes andReviews, 26(3), 157-160.