A Midsummer Night’s Dream Essay: The Perspective of Theseus

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A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Perspective of Theseus

In his play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare clearly establishes the feelings of Theseus with respect to love and reason.

Theseus distrusts the nature of love and its effect on people as he states in the following passage:

I never may believe these antic fables or these fairy toys.

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,

Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend

More than cool reason ever comprehends.

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet

Are of imagination all compact.

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold:

That is the
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This place where the line between dream and reality blurs is an important theme of the play.

Theseus is also a lover, but his affair with Hippolyta is based upon the cold reality of war, "Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword, And won thy love doing thee injuries"(I, i, 16-17). He is eager to wed Hippolyta and marriage is the place where reason and judgment rule. He wins the hand of his bride through action not through flattery, kisses and sighs inspired by her beauty. In lines 4-6 of his monologue he dismisses the accounts of lovers and madmen on the grounds that they are both apt to imagine a false reality as being real. When, in I, i, 56, Hermia tells Theseus, "I would my father looked but with my eyes", Theseus responds, "Rather your eyes must with his judgment look"(57). Theseus has a firm belief that the eyes of lovers are not to be trusted. That the eye of the lover "sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt"(11) is, to him, proof of this. It precisely by enchanting the eyes of the lovers that the faeries manage to create so much mayhem: "Flower of this purple dye, hit with cupid's archery, sink in apple of his eye! When his love he doth espy, let her shine as gloriously as the Venus of the sky"(III, ii, 101-7). Puck doesn't change Helena's nature, nor does he change her features.

When Lysander wakes, he beholds the same Helena that he's always despised and suddenly he is
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