Books and Movies Reviews

Theseus And His Edict

In the play"A Midsummer Night's Dream?Eby William Shakespeare, the story takes place in mythical Athens.Theseus, the reigning Duke, has taken over the Amazons and has fallen in love with their beautiful Queen, Hippolyta.When he was asked to judge the case of Hermia, he judged it according to the Athenian law.If Hermia does not marry Demetrius, she must die or spend her life in a nunnery.By the end of the play, however, Theseus urges the marriage of the two couples.Theseus changes his edict because he is an understanding ruler, and he is also in love.
As the play opens, Theseus proclaims that their wedding is to take place in five days, which is the Midsummer's Eve, a time of great rejoicing and mischief among the fairies that live in the wood. At this point, Egeus, a rich Athenian, brings his daughter, Hermia, to the Duke.Having fallen in love with Lysander, a young man whom her father disapproves of, Hermia refuses to marry Demetruis, who is her father's choice.Demetruis was in love with Hermia’s friend, Helena, but left her for Hermia.Angered by Hermia’s disobedience to his will, Egeus demands judgment on his daughter.Unfortunately, the Duke tells Hermia that according to Athenian law, she must marry Demetruis or she will be killed.The only other alternative would be a life of chastity as a virgin priestess:
Either to die the death or to abjure
Forever the society of men. (1.1.65-66)
She has just a short time, until the Duke's wedding, to decide.As a ruler, Theseus has no choice but to carry out the Athenian law.
However, by the end of the play, the Duke comes through the wood and offers both of the couples the chance to get married at the same time as him.Lysander and Hermia receive permission to marry when the Duke learns Demetruis has fallen in love with Helena.Although he is a just ruler who should carry out the law, he is also an understanding man.Now everyo…

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