A Midsummer Night's Dream

Women's Confirmity in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Othello College

Emilia from Othello and Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream both experience a constant battle against the institutions of men, such as marriage and courting. These institutions have the implications of turning these women against their own sex and self because of the institutions’ placing of gender upon them. Both voice their complaints against these institutions as well as conform to the standards set by them, but in the end are eventually silenced by the institutions, relating the idea that conformity to these institutions is not a choice, but a way of life or death for these women.

When Helena first appears in Act 1 she is inseparable from her irrational love for a man. She dotes on Demetrius, but he finds Hermia more attractive. This causes Helena to wish that she was not herself, which begins her cycle of self-deprecation: “How happy some o’er other some can be! Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;”(1.1.226-228). Even though she is believed to be beautiful by all of Athens, she only desires the affection and admiration of one man without this she is nothing. Essentially, she wants to be someone or something else to gain Demetrius’ favor, which becomes more evident as the...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1049 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8142 literature essays, 2279 sample college application essays, 354 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in