Essay on Conflict with Authority in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Conflict with Authority in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream the theme of conflict with authority is apparent and is the cause of the problems that befall the characters. It also is used to set the mood of the play. The passage below spoken by Theseus in the opening of the play clearly states this theme.

Be advised fair maid.

To you your father should be as god-
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure or disfigure it - A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1.1.46-51)

The first example of conflict with authority in the play is the premiere example and sets up the conflict for the rest of the play.
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In this way the two conflicts intermix and enhance the theme throughout the play.

A third and minor example of conflict with authority is the play within the play that the rude mechanicals perform in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play they chose to perform, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, contains a conflict very similar to the one Hermia and Lysander face. Pyramus and Thisbe are kept apart by Thisbe’s father’s authority. They also flee to escape this authority and the conflict it creates in their life. Shakespeare adds this particular play not only because of its similarity to the plight Hermia and Lysander face, but also to amplify the theme of conflict with authority throughout the main play.

Shakespeare also used the theme of conflict with authority to set the mood of the play. Shakespeare had limited props available to him at the time and utilized even less. He preferred, instead, to use words to set the mood. The theme of conflict with authority helped establish the mood of the play in two ways.

The first occurs in the lines being analyzed. Theseus’s speech informs the audience of the strictness of Athenian law. It also shows the severity of defying authority according to Athenian law (death) and in that way lets the audience know how desperate the lovers are (1.1.65-78). These speeches by Theseus about the theme of conflict with authority sets a somber and serious mood at the beginning of the

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