In A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare men have more power over women and their actions because men are seen to have more authority and power compared to women where they are seen as nurturing; however, there are also pushbacks in these relationships where the women do get what they want because the men start to feel empathy for the women.
This theme is different from the theme in Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince because there is no real sexual constraint, rather he wants a new prince to be strong and ready for anything to come his way. He uses a new prince’s fortune as a metaphor to women because fortune is unpredictable like women, and wants a new prince must be able to make decisions that are bold. Machiavelli says that fortune controls half of a new prince’s fate while he is in control over the other half. If a new prince is able to adapt to new situations and is able to deal with his fortune strategically he will make for a good new prince.
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus demonstrates how men have more authority over women by controlling the marriage of Hermia. Theseus first agreed with Hermia’s father, Egeus, about marrying Demetrius (AMND 1.1.pg 9-11). This shows that men have more authority over women in this book because Egeus took Hermia to see Theseus instead of her mother which shows that her father is in charge of her. Also, even though Hippolyta isn’t technically the queen she was going the married to Theseus in just 4 days, yet she had no say in this decision. She easily could have talked to Theseus about changing his mind but didn’t because she does not have the authority to.
This, however, is ultimately changed because Theseus allows Hermia to be wed to Lysander, the man she truly wanted to marry (AMND 4.1.pg 133-135). Theseus is about to be married to Hippolyta because they love each other, so he starts to get feelings that are more feminine after he learned how Lysander and Hermia truly felt about each other; he ultimately changed his decision and decided that if they are truly content with being married the marriage should be approved.
Hermia being able to marry Lysander shows that women do have the power to push back and challenge the authority of men. Hermia was able to get this marriage accepted by Theseus because he started to empathize for their love. Since he understands what love feels like he would want others to be able to marry people they love which is why women like Hermia are able to push back against men and get what they want.
Another example of males having more power over women in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is when Oberon wants control over Titania. Oberon takes control of Titania by making Robin fetch him a special flower so he can put a spell on Titania. She then falls in love with an ass so he can have the little changeling boy (AMND 2.1.pg 43-47).
Oberon would not allow Titania to have her way because he felt that the king should be obeyed for every command given, so he used his power to take control of the situation to get the boy; however, Oberon did not have all the power because Titania had the boy but refused to give him up to Oberon. She did not give up the boy until she was under the spell which shows that the women in this book fight back. If women had no power at all she would have given the boy to Oberon as soon as he asked for the boy, but women tend to push back and challenge the authority of men and Titania is an example of that.
In addition to Oberon wanting control over Titania, he starts to have feminine feelings which show the balances of power between men and women. After Titania gave up the changeling boy to Oberon, he removed the spell he had put on her because he started feeling remorseful for what he did (AMND 4.1.pg 125). After seeing everything that went on with Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius Oberon felt guilty for what he did to Titania, and he starts empathizing for what women feel which is why he decides to remove the spell off Titania.
This shows how men’s power is balanced by feminine characteristics because women are given a stereotype of being seen as nurturing and obedient. Since men have these feminine feelings, they will understand and appreciate women’s ideas more and this will grant them more power in society as well.
Machiavelli does not express signs of sexual constraint in The Prince but instead insists that a new prince must learn to control and shape his fortune by being able to act with intelligence. Machiavelli first compares women to a new prince’s fortune; fortune is not actually a woman but he uses this as a figure of speech by comparing it to women because he claims fortune is fickle just like a woman.
In the text, Machiavelli states, “fortune controls half of our actions, but that she still leaves us to direct the other half” (The Prince 81). Machiavelli says that fortune controls half of our actions, but he does not want a new prince to allow fortune to do this; he wants a new prince to be able to change and work around fortune rather than to give into it. When a new prince’s fortune keeps changing he needs to be ready for this and he needs to be able to react with firm decisions otherwise he will lose control of the situation.
If a new prince does not respond to situations by assessing them carefully he will fail because each situation is different, and a new prince must be able to understand the situation and decide which course of action will lead to the best outcome. Machiavelli basically wants a new prince to think cautiously about his decisions and use the proper actions for the problems he is facing.
To conclude, men have more power and authority over the women and their actions in A Midsummer Night’s Dream because men are the dominant gender compared to women where they are seen as more passive. Although it comes off as unfair, there is a balance in the power that men have because there are push backs in these relationships where the women do get what they want because the men start to feel empathy for the women.
This theme is different from The Prince because in this book there is no sexual constraint that is mentioned between men and women, rather Machiavelli wants a new prince to be ready to make decisions based on his fortune. Machiavelli claims that fortune controls only half of a new prince’s fate. When a new prince is able to adapt to new situations and is able to control his fortune he will be successful in his rulings as a new prince.