A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare, explores many different motifs, especially love and marriage. Shakespeare changes each character’s perspective of love and marriage. The lovers show the first viewpoint, where love must be in marriage. On the contrary, some characters believe marriage is more to do with honour than love. However some characters’ love grow over a period of time after being married. The view on love and marriage is presented differently in many different ways. For some of Shakespeare’s characters love is an essential part of marriage.
This is seen with the two out of the four lovers; Hermia and Lysander. Hermia and Lysander wish to wed with Egeus’s blessing, however he refuses. Their love for one another is so strong that they would flee “to that place the sharp Athenian law cannot pursue [them]” and get married there. They think marriage is the epitome of true love which confirms their faithfulness to each other. Hermia is first arranged to marry Demetrius, her unrequited lover, but she “refuses to wed [him]”, because she does not love him.
Another couple, who are in love, is Theseus and Hippolyta. At the beginning of the play, Theseus and Hippolyta are discussing their marriage. They are enthusiastic and anticipate their marriage, “our nuptial hour draws on apace, four happy days bring in another moon- but O, methinks, how slow this old moon wanes! ” These idealistic characters believe that love must be present in marriage for it to function. In contrast, Shakespeare also identifies that love does not have to be in marriage, as demonstrated by Egeus.
Egeus, Hermia’s father, decides she must marry Demetrius as he believes Demetrius is superior to Lysander. Egeus regards Hermia as his property to do whatever he wishes, “And she(Hermia) is mine, and all my right of her, I do estate Demetrius. ” For Egeus, marriage is completely unrelated to love, instead it is a legal issue. He dismisses Hermia and Lysander’s affection for each other as “feigned love” as he regards her as an object. Although Shakespeare looks into a honourable marriage, he does not support it, as Egeus is characterised as an antagonist.
Thus, one view of love and marriage, as depicted by Egeus’s character, is that they can not coexist. Moreover, the play implies that although love may not initially be in marriage, it may develop over time. This is the case for Titania and Oberon, the fairy leaders. Originally, they married for honour to keep nature tranquil, however they have not stayed faithful to each other, causing discord in the environment. The couple have been living away from each other but reunite for Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding.
Their disagreement at the start of the Act 2, reveals their previous affairs while they were married; Titania to Theseus, “[making] him… break his faith” and Oberon to Hippolyta, “his buskin’d mistress and your warrior love. However throughout the play, Titania and Oberon appear to grow more affection for each other, especially after Bottom’s affair with the Queen as Oberon says, ‘Now thou and I are new in amity. ” Shakespeare investigates a more complex relationship between love and marriage, as shown with Titania and Oberon.
Shakespeare uses many different characters to portray the different outlooks on love and marriage. The four young lovers have an idealistic and naive view on love and believe it must exist in marriage. The character Egeus in comparison, has a pessimistic opinion and believes that love and marriage are two separate things that do not coincide. Titania and Oberon, did not originally love each when they were first married other but their affection for one another grew over time. This play had many attitudes toward love and marriage but, it is clear that Shakespeare wanted to express that love prevails.