A Midsummer Night's Dream

She's the Man, He's the Ass: As You Like It and A Midsummer's Night Dream College

William Shakespeare is an author who is known best for his tragedies, such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Julius Caesar: plays in which the heroes lose. However, Shakespeare also wrote comedies, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and As You Like It: plays in which the heroes win. Included in both of these kinds of plays are strong characters. A character is considered “strong” if they have a distinct personality, motivation, and conflict. Shakespeare was not known for writing what was mainstream at that time, instead creating cross-dressing characters, main female characters, and overall gender fluidity in his plays. He does maintain one feature, though: some of his strongest characters are masculine, even if they are not male, namely in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It. The contrast between Bottom’s proud masculinity and Rosalind’s disguised masculinity not only expresses the idea that a strong masculine character does not necessarily have to be a male character, but it also helps the reader to better understand both characters.

Masculinity can be defined, for the purpose of Shakespeare, as power. Masculinity is also pride, independence, strength (physical and emotional), and the ability...

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