A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare and Undertones of Discrimination

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A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play written by William Shakespeare during the Elizabethan era. At the time, there were six social classes; the monarch, the nobility, the gentry, the merchants, the yeomanry, and the laborers. The class distinction was very clear among people and the mix of any classes was socially unacceptable. A Midsummer Night's Dream mix of different classes can be seen but Shakespeare put these classes together in a way that prizes the upper class rather than showing the unnecessity of social hierarchy. The play makes the reader feel, that Shakespeare is side with class distinction, the way his characters are created is more like he is trying to get the good side of the nobles but as a 21st-century reader’ opinion the way he creates his characters and put together his story is little disappointing.

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Shakespeare is okay with discrimination or at least the way he writes shows that he believes, that laborers -who are Queens, Bottom, Flute, Snout, Snug, and Starveling- can be nothing more than just insignificant commoners. We start to see Shakespeare’s stand in the situation with the description of the laborers first. He described them as silly, dull, uneducated- dumb to be more precise. In the play, laborers are trying to put together a play for the duke of Athens, however, they have no knowledge nor education about theatrical art. They stumbled their way throughout the play, and they turn a beautiful tragedy into a silly comedy.

Further proof of Shakespeare's belief about laborers is in the little word games he made when he named his laborer characters. All of the laborers' names are clever plays on their professions. Bottom, for example, a weaver by trade, his name is another term for a piece a wood that weavers wrapped the thread around. His name also refers to his characteristic, his name is silly and ridiculous. Just like how he acts through the story and how he looked after his head become a donkey's head. Peter Quince is a carpenter and his name sounds like 'quoins,' the wooden wedges used by men in his trade. Snug is a joiner and his name refers to the kind of 'snug' joints craftsmen aimed for when they built furniture. Starveling is a tailor and his name plays on the common idea that all tailors were skinny (shmoop). As a reader, I believe the common idea Elizabethan era has defaulted. Nobles and royalty of the time believed low borns are there to serve them under every condition. Laborers worked too much for too little money, they were ostracized and humiliated by society. This was unrighteous discrimination because the laborers have right over every penny they earn. While high class sits and counts their gold which they did no hard work to earn.

Another wrong discrimination in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is a little different then what came to mind in the first place. It is discrimination in discrimination. A royal woman can be the authority figure against a commoner, however, inside her own class, she has the lowest rank. There is an obvious patriarchal regime in the play. The first scene of the play introduces a conflict that hinges on male dominance in the social hierarchy. In act I, scene I; Egeus tells Theseus that her daughter doesn't want to marry the man he chose and asks his help. Theseus tells her she must marry her father's choosing. “To you, your father should be as a god” and “Upon that day either prepare to die/ For disobedience to your father’s will,/ Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;/ Or on Diana’s altar to protest/ For aye austerity and single life,” he says. This conversation between them is a good example of women struggle in the existing society. A king, a man, a suitor can claim over a woman, way too easily, so there is a class distinction inside the class distinction. There is one more example of male authority toward marriage. At the beginning of the play, Theseus is talking about his upcoming wedding wit Hippolyta, queen of Amazon’s. Even though she is a Queen she has no right say a word upon her marriage because the duke of Athens wins her when he conquered her in battle.

The patriarchal nature of Athenian society further develops as the main location of play becomes the wood where Tatiana refused to obey her husband Oberon. Her disobedience creates a disturbance in nature -The disturbance is the way of Shakespeare saying existing gender roles are the natural order. This apparently gives Oberon the right to play a cruel joke to his wife in retaliation.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and Undertones of Discrimination. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-midsummer-nights-dream-by-william-shakespeare-and-undertones-of-discrimination/
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and Undertones of Discrimination.” WritingBros, 14 Dec. 2020, writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-midsummer-nights-dream-by-william-shakespeare-and-undertones-of-discrimination/
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and Undertones of Discrimination. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-midsummer-nights-dream-by-william-shakespeare-and-undertones-of-discrimination/> [Accessed 23 Feb. 2024].
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and Undertones of Discrimination [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 14 [cited 2024 Feb 23]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-midsummer-nights-dream-by-william-shakespeare-and-undertones-of-discrimination/
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