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The power of love, gender inequality and social class are the main forces that determine the position of someone is the society and their power to influence. The use of humor in addressing the three issues motivates the reader to follow the entire play to see how the three forces are clearly demonstrated.
The Shakespeare’s play (midsummer night’s dream) and Aphra Behn’s play (The Rover) both present the story of love among the young people and the role of the family in determining who will marry their daughters. The two demonstrate what love is according to the society’s perception. The power of love is also brought out revealing that people who are in love are ready to do anything to win their love no matter the resistant from other people especially the parents.
Gender inequality issues seem to dominate the two societies with the male gender receiving a fair treatment as compared with the female.
The issues of social stratification or the grouping of people in the society into layers using the criteria of how much someone has, is also key in the two plays. This has divided then people into first middle and upper class. The following discussion will address those issues according to how they are brought out in the two plays.
The midsummer night’s dream play by Shakespeare is believed to have been written between 1594 and 1599. It is a play about four young lovers in Athens who are in confusion. The play is comical in nature and it is characterized by the use of magic by the king of fairies known as Oberon so that he can have his way. The humor has been used deliberately in order to pass a very important message concerning the issues that are pressing this society such as those of class and the gender issues.
The play begins with a sad note in that Egeus, Hernia’s father, forces her to go against her will by marrying the person whom he chooses. The man’s name was Demetrius, who was her father’s close friend. However, Hernia is in love with a young man by the name of Lysander who also loves her. She refuses her father’s call to marry Demetrius. It is said that such an act normally attracted a death penalty but luckily, when the Duke was informed of that, he decided to punish her by commanding her to become a nun for the rest of her life and to worship the goddess. Hernia however, is not ready to take this kind of punishment since it is too harsh for her and it will make her never fall in love again for the rest of her life. For this reason, she plans to elope with her lover oblivious of the consequences of taking such a step.
The play above compares with that of ‘The Rover’ in that at the beginning of the story, Florinda is also confused because the man that her father proposes that she marry is not the one that she loves. The man is said to be old and has never met her. On the other hand, her brother Don Pedro also tells her that she has to marry a friend of his by the name of Antonio. She is in much confusion since she loves none of them. She is in love with a simple young man by the mane of Belvile.
The two plays demonstrate the position of women in the two kinds of the society. It is shown that there are aspects of gender inequality. The inequality arises when both the male and the female genders are given unequal treatment. The society has a defined way which explains how different groups should be treated, their roles and responsibilities and what their position in the society. This is demonstrated by the fact that none of the ladies are allowed to marry the people of their choice. Hernia in the shakespear play is given a punishment after going against his father’s will ( Judith 125). The fate of a lady who committed such an ‘offence’ lay in the hands of the duke who would sentence someone to death. They are denied the freedom of choice and this is the reason why the two ladies elope with their lovers rather than getting to marry people that they never loved and who they knew nothing about. The men on the other hand had the freedom to marry whoever they wished without any hindrances. They could also love as many women as they wished since this was considered as the demonstration of power of men.
The two plays show that love is so strong that it makes people deviate from the norms of the society. Much of the restrictions that have been placed to control the wemen’s choice is a society’s construction. From the story by shakespear, Hernia goes against such regulations by deciding to elope and move with the person that she loved. The same happens to Florinda who has to fight hard against his father and his brother’s will and elopes with the man that she loves. This demonstrates the power of love that is so strong to make people liberate themselves from the chains of slavery. The two women begin a new dawn for women that they should wake up and fight for their rights.
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