A Midsummer Night's Dream

Hippolyta's Function in A Midsummer Night's Dream

In William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the minor character Hippolyta functions in three ways. Her first role in the play is as an example of mature love in juxtaposition to the two immature Athenian couples. Her second purpose in the play is to aid in answering the question "Can love follow conquest?." Her final function is to act as a voice of reason and clarification for the audience. Even though Hippolyta is a minor character in the play, her part is critical to the development of the play's major themes of love and understanding. Hippolyta and Theseus begin A Midsummer Night's Dream by discussing their plans to marry. They remain true to one another throughout the course of the play, until finally marrying in the end. Shakespeare juxtaposes them against Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander's unstable relationships. He portrays the Athenian lovers as irrational because of their arbitrary love for one another. Their love is superficial and the objects of it change several times during the play. Demetrius is unable to explain his sudden love for Helena when he says, "I wot not by what power- / But by some power it is-my love to Hermia, / Melted as the snow" (IV, i,...

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