In my first blog which revolved around A Midsummer Night’s Dream and how bad off Helena has it off. While this fact remains true, since she has been unfortunately pursued by Lysander and Demetrius for the wrong reasons (a la Puck making them fall in love with whomever they first see when awaken), I now look at the other poor treatment of women in general in the play. Hermia has this grandiose build up of a life full of love with Lysander and her life is completely turned around and her heart struck out, stood on, and roasted on a fire when he now out of nowhere has fallen head over heels with Helena, her best friend. Now while this has shattered her love life, it also completely shatters her close friendship with Helena. It’s kind of hard to pick a side between the two female lovers as Hermia is the classic love interest and Helena the classic best friend who never seems to have things pan out for her besides being there for her dear friend.
And while Helena and Hermia have their problems inflicted by Puck’s meddling, Titania has arguably the most to lose by Puck’s doing. She embarrassingly is lovestruck with Bottom’s new Donkey face, much to Oberon’s amusement. Even after in Oberon and Titania’s first scene, it’s very clear how much she cares for the boy and has been left in charge of him in stead of his own mother, Oberon cares very little to this fact and selfishly wants him for himself. It’s as though the boy was little orphan Annie and Titania were Daddy Warbucks, who has taken care for the child as his own — only to have President Franklin D. Roosevelt take Annie for himself because he likes her. It’s just a poor, poor argument for a man to take a child as his own.
The mistreatment of the women in this play is a grand part of the humor but it is also something that should be realized to view Shakespeare’s own view on women and shows his view on men’s dominance over women. Even in other plays, such as Richard III in the case of Lady Anne, he shows how susceptible a lady is to a man’s charm. Same goes for Desdemona easily falling for Iago’s tricks and Ophelia being so grief-stricken by her father’s death. Why does Shakespeare envelop many of his female characters with such faulty traits that translate to their respected downfalls? Personally, his creation of these characters attests to his creation of flawed human beings. These female characters are people who people; people make mistakes and have humanity in them. Shakespeare gave us these fully-fleshed characters as a gift to actors and theatergoers alike. If a character were perfect, whether male or female, these plays would not have been around for hundreds of years despite Shakespeare’s own feelings on women’s relationships with men.