Gender Roles In Midsummer Night's Dream

2114 Words 8 Pages
A Midsummer Night’s Dream written by the poet and playwright William Shakespeare(1564-1616), was first published in the Quarto edition in 1600, although it is suggested, that this play was ‘first put on in court in 1595’ (Salgado, 1975: p. 116).Whether this play was made in the early 1580s or later than that, became a controversial matter. Francis Meres’ in his Palladis Tamia Wits Treasury (1598), mentioned A Midsummer Night’s Dream as ‘one of a dozen Shakespeare plays’(Stritmatter, 2006: p. 81). This clearly suggests, that this play had to be written before the year 1598. The critic, Eva Turner Clark, argues, that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written even before that year in the early 1580s. In her Hidden Allusions in Shakespeare 's Plays, …show more content…
15). Consequently, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, female roles such as Hermia’s and Helena’s were acted by the male actors. It follows that it is quite possible, that to be able to create a believable gender image, the male actors acting as females, had to wear some type of makeup (in more recent performances, ‘the thick, white face-paint was applied on adult men as a clear sign of femininity’) (Carson, Cooper, 2008: p. 69). Furthermore, as Cooper remarks in Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance drama, in Shakespearean times, the use of makeup was a sign of power and authority, and this is due to the fact that Queen Elizabeth was applying the face paint on herself (Cooper, 2006: p. 34). Natural ingredients such as ‘powdered hogs bones mixed with poppy oil gave boy actors playing women a pale skin’(Mabillard, 2014). Also, to create a shimmering effect, the make-up was enriched with crushed pearls and silver. These ingredients worked particularly well with the candlelight, and for fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mabillard, 2014). Even further, as evidence of the use of such ingredients, the puritan minister Thomas Tuke, in his Discourse of Painting and Tincturing, by openly speaking out in the painting camouflage controversy, provided evidence, that pearl was used in the Elizabethan era as a makeup ingredient to add the shimmering effect and to increase the actors’ visibility in the theatre (Tuke, 1616). In conclusion, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream the white painted faces on the male actors, and the silver fleck on the fairies, created a mystical world, which an Elizabethan audience could enjoy and

Related Documents