In act one of A Midsummer Night’s Dream the audience have our first acquaintance with the characters and therefore begin to form opinions. We are introduced to each relationship and begin to understand the couples. During Act one, the themes of Feminism and Power were evident to me.
The play opens with Theseus and Hippolyta discuss their forthcoming wedding day. Firstly there is a focus on the moon when Theseus says ‘This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires’ showing his impatience for the wedding to arrive, possibly implying that he is desperate to make love to her. Hippolyta replies with ‘Like to a silver bow new bent in heaven’ the moon is watching their ‘solemnities’ using the moon in a different way, as something beautiful which opposes his view that it is holding them back. The moon and archery are both related to the virgin goddess called Diana, this metaphor could be Hippolyta implying that she is aware of her time as a virgin running out and that Diana is counting down the time. Theseus then states ‘I wooed thee with my sword’ which expresses violence and suggests that he raped her to win ‘thy love doing thee injuries’ so threatened her to force her to marry him.
Hermia is presented to be very much in love with Lysander, where I think the sincerity of Lysander’s love is less convincing. Lysander declares ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’ which summarises the fact of the play where there are always hurdles on the route to true love, this metaphor is introducing the theme of difficulties in love when the rest of the play only involves the characters chasing love. Lysander then describes the obstacles of love being ‘war, death, or sickness’ showing his pessimistic belief that love won’t last very long. Shakespeare again forebodes the chaos that is yet to come when Lysander says ‘quick bright things come to confusion’ again showing his uncertainty as to whether he thinks Hermia and himself will be everlasting. Furthermore, Lysander’s love for Hermia again seems questionable when he declares he ‘made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena’ showing that he isn’t reliable and has not only had love for Hermia. Hermia declares ‘I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow’ expressing to the audience that she is a romantic and believes strongly in romance. To enforce this, Hermia delivers her speech thereafter in rhyming couplets creating a romantic, rhythmic atmosphere.
The next relationship I shall analyses, is that of Helena and Demetrius, where she is desperately in love with him but he does not feel the same. Demetrius tells ‘Relent, sweet Hermia’ displaying his romantic feelings towards her, this shows that although she has no feelings towards her, he is desperate to be with Hermia. Later, when Helena enters showing her bitterness towards Hermia when she says ‘Call you me fair? That ‘fair’ again unsay’ using slight sarcasm to express her anger that Hermia has taken Demetrius’ heart. During her monologue that follows, Shakespeare uses rhyming couplets that create a fast pace to express her fury towards Hermia. She states ‘Demetrius loves you fair’ again showing the obstacles that block love. Helena’s monologue is very misogynistic because of her jealousy; I think Shakespeare intended it to be quite amusing because it is so fierce and direct to Hermia. Furthermore Helena later realises that love makes her blind so that she even loves Demetrius’s ‘base and vile qualities admitting that love and passion has tainted her judgement. This idea is reiterated later in the play when Titania falls in love with a ‘vile’ ‘ass’.
There seems to be a lack of love on the surface between Hermia and her Father, Egeus when he threatens ‘to her death’ if she doesn’t marry Demetrius as he wishes, showing that Egeus has a lack of caring towards his daughter if he is willing to let her die. This also explores the ancient notion of…