Night in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream Essay

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Night in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream One of the recurring themes throughout Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the time of day during which the play’s major action takes place: night. This being the case, there are certain words that are directly linked to this theme that appear numerous times throughout the script. Four such words are “moon,” “moonlight,” “moonshine,” and “lunatic.” Each comes from a feminine root that serves to identify the women in the play as prizes to be won and controlled. It becomes clear when looking up the term “moon” in the Oxford English Dictionary that the word is associated with the feminine. “In poetry,” for instance, “the moon is often personified, always as female…”…show more content…
Theseus looks to the moon to measure how soon he will wed his fiancé, Hippolyta. Hippolyta responds in kind, commenting, “And then the moon, like to a silver bow / New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night / Of our solemnities” (1.1.7, 14). Not only does the bride speak of the moon as a measurement (for when it becomes “a silver bow,” or crescent, they wed), but she also speaks of the night when the moon wanes as a time of festive marriage ceremonies. It is important to take into account the character of Hippolyta in this instance. Having Theseus wed Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, takes away Hippolyta’s power as a strong female. She, too, is counting the nights by the waning of the moon until she is legitimately wed and under the control of a husband. The lesser characters, below royalty in the social order, take part in illicit happenings veiled by night, as the moon oversees the activities of May Day/Midsummer’s Eve. The moon is considered a “passive overseer or witness to (the actions of humankind)” (Brown 1645). In the forest of Oberon and Titania, the moon is truly an observer. Within a monologue by Titania, the fairy queen announces, “Therefore the moon, the governess of floods, / Pale in her anger, washes all the air, / That rheumatic diseases do abound” (2.1.102, 29). Titania speaks of her quarrel with Oberon in this instance and how it affects all of nature. Their effect on the natural world is so strong that when they
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