Gender Roles In Twelfth Night And A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Gender can manifest itself in many ways in the theatre. In many of Shakespeare’s plays gender is shown through marriage or love and often not the love people think is acceptable or that ends the way the characters would like. The plays Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream written by William Shakespeare both end with the main characters paired off into couples. In these relationships Shakespeare has created couples that will ultimately be unhappy due to longing for a person they can’t have or being trapped in a marriage to a person they don’t love or trust.
Hermia and Lysander are perhaps the only couple in either of these plays that actually ends up one hundred percent happy. Technically they are under a spell to forget the night before
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. . and now I have the boy, I will undo this hateful imperfection of her eyes” (4.1.54-60). Oberon admits to his cruel manipulation and actions on Titania and acknowledges that he used these actions to force Titania into giving him what he wanted. This quote also shows that Titania was alert enough to agree to give the changeling boy over to Oberon in exchange for him to leave her alone, this means she was alert enough to have a minor awareness that what was happening was not completely of her own volition. Titania may not have been one hundred percent aware of the actions of her husband, but she would know enough that she would not have so willingly given over the boy without some magical intervention, especially when she so adamantly and violently refused him at the beginning of the play. It is also fair to say that Oberon doesn’t trust Titania to send the boy to him when he is older. Oberon is in charge of male fairies while Titania has the female, so while the boy might be in the current care of Titania, one could assume that one day he would be sent to attend Oberon. The fact that Oberon has to resort to trickery to attain the boy means that he doesn’t trust Titania’s decisions. Considering this, Titania
would not have much trust in Oberon, so while they may play the happily married couple, deep down there is a serious lack of trust on both sides, despite that this trait is normally a basis for
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Viola first meets Orsino as a man, and starts to work for him. Viola falls in love with Orsino, so it is convenient that she is revealed to be a woman and is able to marry Orsino. This would leave the audience assuming that everything is ending perfectly. However it is not Viola but Orsino who is going to be unhappy in this marriage. There is heavy hinting throughout the play that Orsino favors Cesario, culminating in “Boy, thou hast said to me a thousand times thou never shouldst love woman like to me” (5.1.260-261) and “Give me thy hand, and let me see thee in they woman’s weeds” (5.1.265-266). In the first quote Orsino still
refers to Viola as a boy despite now knowing that Cesario is in fact Viola. He then waits to pledge himself to her until he sees her in woman 's clothing. Orsino is reluctant to let Cesario go and he knows the moment Viola dons women 's clothing she won’t take them off again and Cesario will be gone. Orsino is going to be married to a woman that he will constantly be wishing was a man, even if that was not what was acceptable at the

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