Theseus In A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Peter C. Herman’s article, “Equity and the Problem of Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Or, the Ancient Constitution of Ancient Athens,” explains that A Midsummer Night’s Dream has an underlying political issue that portrays Theseus as a hypocritical ruler that does not stay true to his promise. He explains that Theseus does not possess the qualities of a fair ruler, as he struggles to abide by the law, sometimes choosing to make decisions based on what he personally thinks is right. Moreover, Herman explains that Theseus’s actions are similar to that of early modern England rulers, in that they govern based on what they believe is correct rather than following the laws designed. Thus, Herman’s purpose is to show that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not just a romantic comedy, but also a demonstration of the struggle between impartiality and law.
Peter C. Herman proposes that Theseus’s conflict between abiding by the law or being impartial when making a decision makes him a hypocritical leader. He refers to the character, Theseus, in Plutarch’s play, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. Thus, Herman creates a parallel between Plutarch's and Shakespeare’s Theseus. Herman also compares the government of Ancient Athens and early modern England. He explains, “As such, Ancient Athens recalls early
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However, after reading this article, it is clear that Shakespeare made Theseus govern in the same way that early modern England rulers did. Herman took a unique topic to analyze the Shakespearean play, a topic that I had not come across in any other articles about the play. Although many articles discussed the relation between reality and fantasy and the tribulations of love, this article stood out in its unique content. Overall, Herman’s thorough yet straightforward analysis made the article all the more