Destabilizing the Social Norms Between Men and Women in A Midsummer Night's Dream

873 Words 4 Pages
The social order and love within A Midsummer’s Night Dream is skewed without the influence of the fairies, yet Oberon, Titania, and their troupe of troublemakers forcibly insert themselves into the plot with their own personal squabbles that exert power over the characters and events of the play. The crazed and maniacal actions of the characters go against the traditional forms of accepted behavior in Elizabethan society, and just like in dreams, they turn the plot topsy-turvy and breed a chaos that runs unchecked until the young Athenians emerge from the woods at dawn. There are many points where sexual roles and norms are challenged during the play, but the most heated is Oberon and Titania’s fight in Act 2 Scene 1. Titania’s refusal to …show more content…
This goes against the traditional standpoint taken at the beginning of the play where the Athenian men make the punishment for disobedience (1.1.65-66), as well as the values and laws of Elizabethan society. This equality given to both men and women at the beginning of the play sets the mood for the later actions of the characters in the plot and destabilizes the social structure of man’s advantage over women. The second instance where Titania overrules Oberon is her refusal to hand over her beloved charge, whose ‘mother was a vot’ress of my order...and for her sake I do rear up the boy/And for her sake I will not part with him’ (2.1.123-137) willingly. Oberon attempts to sweet talk her into giving the boy to him by charading false kindness and a willingness to listen to her concern without judgement. However, Titania’s insight makes her despise him more for his attempted trickery and refuses his company for the duration of their stay until the wedding. Though Oberon exacts his revenge on Titania by making a fool out of her through magic, her initial refusal to obey his orders on the spot speaks volumes for the female characters in this play. It sets the tone for an acceptable level of disobedience that the other women, perhaps as a mystical result of Titania’s obstinance, will gladly adopt throughout the plot. This refusal, both in the play and onstage, must have been an outrage to society at the time due to its frank and verbal nature, where a woman deliberately