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Cruelty as a Crucial Motivation in a Midsummer Night’s Dream

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of Shakespeare’s most beloved novels is often considered a beloved romantic comedy. However the play does have a strong trace of darkness and cruelty, which is something ominous most novels have, that is hard to separate from other themes. Midsummer may end with a series of happy weddings, but along the way, it clearly depicts how male and female relationships can involve a great amount of cruelty with the potential to spread and affect other people’s lives. Though in all literary works like this play, cruelty can function as a crucial motivation or a major social factor. And it often makes the theme of a story.

From our knowledge, we know that if the theme dictates much of the setting of a story, it also affects to the characters and actions of a story. While this is not always the case in many plays and novels, the theme is mainly developed on the love and relationships between the characters, with drama assembled upon it. To analyze how cruelty functions in the story as a whole, nearly all the male counterparts threaten their female counterparts at some point of the play. Theseus for example, won Hippolyta not through seduction or by courtship, but through military conquest and having to destroy her female counterparts. He says to her in the opening scene, “I wooed thee with my sword, / And won thy love doing thee injuries”. The female characters, particularly Helena and Hermia, end up internalizing much of this behavior. Helena maybe a little more underrated, but because this does take place in a society where males were considered more dominant, Hermia tends to deal with cruelty more. Shakespeare quotes, “Do her mischief” in the woods—a far more menacing promise when we realize that mischief had a much stronger connotation in the period, meaning something closer to “harm” or “evil” than “naughtiness.”.

To some audiences, cruelty can be a bad indication that something unpleasant could happen. For example, ‘romantic strife’ at full force is portrayed in this play as cruelty. Because it does spread rather quickly, the whole earth becomes infected. The fairy monarchs, Titania and Oberon confront each other and Titania describes the troubled world filled with sickly clouds and rotting vegetation. She quotes, Therefore the winds, piping us in vain, As in revenge, have we sucked up from the sea Contagious fogs which falling in the land have every pleting river made so proud That they have overborne their continents”. Using the evidence from the characters, we can analyze what cruelty reveals about a specific perpetrator and/or victim. Analyzing cruelty can help us find the personality, thoughts of others, the way they think, and solve their situations through.

To summarize the point, cruelty in plays can often function as motivation or a major social factor, in which it often makes the theme of a story and represents who the characters really are. While coming upon cruelty, it may sound harsh towards another character. Though it is significant to remember that cruelty can be good in some ways to the plot of a story. This is especially significant that Shakespeare adds cruelty to his plays because it adds so much dramatic effect, which is important for how the scenes in his plays will go down to make up the theme. No matter what type of play/story it is, the chances of there being cruelty will be possible.             

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Cruelty As A Crucial Motivation In A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from
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