As You Like It

Feminine Homoeroticism in A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It

In Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It, feminine homoeroticism emerges as an interplay of passive and aggressive opposition. Women take the sphere of romantic love -- one sphere to which they have access in the midst of an oppressive patriarchal order and reformulate it to exclude men. Ironically, in the midst of playing out their same-sex relationships, females assume particular roles that create a pseudo-patriarchy not unlike the order they sought out to escape. Rather than divorcing themselves from the patriarchal order, the women tend to seek the security of a familiar power structure, which they find as they create it for themselves.

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hermia particularly opposes the patriarchal order in which her father and other figures of male authority dictate the terms of her marriage. She protests before the Duke, Theseus, saying,

I know not by what power I am made bold,

Nor how it may concern my modesty

In such a presence here to plead my thoughts,

But I beseech your grace that I may know

The worst that may befall me in this case

If I refuse to wed Demetrius. (MND , 1.1.59-64)

By arguing for her right to "plead [her] thoughts" before an assembly of men, imposes upon a...

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