The Purpose of Authority in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

1157 WordsFeb 24, 20185 Pages
The Purpose of Authority in A Midsummer Night's Dream Whether it's Athens or London, cities have laws, and civilized life has rules. It is impossible to have a population that agrees with all the rules and laws of the state they are subject to. If a group disagrees with a rule or law enough to cause civil unrest it can be a major problem for the authority of the state. One way to mitigate civil unrest, and remind citizens of how good they have it, is through purposeful entertainment. In Act III:ii of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare uses the forest to emphasize the trivial nature of the problems between the young lovers and advocate the benefits of citizenship. The play starts by presenting the problems of the characters and establishing the authority of the city of Athens. When Lysander and Hermia decide to flee the city in search of romantic freedom, the forest is their refuge from the “sharp Athenian law” (1.1.162), but after being left shaken by their dreamlike experience in the forest the four characters long for the familiar Athens. In this play, the uncertainty of the forest represents life outside the rules of the city. Shakespeare's forest scene not only plays on the fears of a God fearing, superstitious population, but also panders to the average working person by displaying the petty quarrels of young nobles, while at the same time taking no power away from the real ruling authorities. This accomplishes a few things. First, it allows everyday
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