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Comparing A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, King Richard II, and King Lear

Relation between Nature and Man in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, King Richard II, and King Lear

A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, King Richard II, and King Lear all represent different philosophies people hold regarding the phenomenon of their lives. The relationships between humans and outside forces differ between the plays too. A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream emphasizes natures part in human life. It is seen as the driving force for everything good and bad. Divine decree is the emphasis in King Richard II. The characters all seem to have a general acceptance of outcomes as what the gods wanted. Lastly, King Lear has man viewing nature as destructive and angry. He wants to control nature’s fury and decide for himself what should be acceptable and legitimate. While none of these philosophies can be labeled as “wrong” or “right”, each does have valid support within the given play.

The first play, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream has a lot of nature metaphor is in families. The very first conversation in it has a king blaming the moon and night time for his not being able to marry. Theseus wanted to marry Hippolita right away but four moonshines were delaying him. Another example comes from Lysander. He saw roses in Hermia’s cheeks and rain falling from her unhappy eyes. When Lysander wakes up and sees Helena, He decides he wants her instead of Hermia. He says, ” things growing are not ripe until their season . . . [which] leads me to your eyes” (MND II, 2,100-110). He compares himself to unripe fruit or something that has not reached its final or mature stage in growth. Lysander said that he only fancied Hermia because he was young and naïve but now that he was “ripe”, he wanted Helena. This is a parallel made by Lysander to nature. Not only did he believe that nature controlled all actions but he truly believed everything followed the same life pattern. Later, Lysander is confronted by Hermia and he compares her to terrible things like animals and serpents because he no longer saw her as his love but as someone he outgrew. This reference shows a part of life that is not wonderful and pretty but loathsome and dirty.

Nature is obviously a very big part in the play too because of the continual reference and almost constant presence of the fairy King Oberon and his Queen Titania.

The Gender Struggle in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

After two world wars, the balance of power between the genders in America had completely shifted. Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is a harsh, yet powerful play that exposes the reality of the gender struggle. Williams illustrates society’s changing attitudes towards masculinity and femininity through his eloquent use of dramatic devices such as characterization, dialogue, setting, symbolism, and foreshadowing.

Stanley, the protagonist, is a symbol for society’s view of the stereotypical male. He is muscular, forceful, and dominant. Stanley’s domination becomes so overwhelming that he demands absolute control. This view of the male as a large animal is revealed in the opening of the play where Stanley is described as “bestial.” His power and control throughout the play are foreshadowed in the opening stage directions.

[…She cries out in protest…Her husband and his companion have

already started back around the corner.]

Stanley does not take notice of his wife’s concern, but instead continues on his original course, asserting his own destiny, without any thought to the effect it may have on those around him. This taking blood at any cost to those around him is foreshadowed in scene one, with the packet of met which he forces upon his wife. It is through actions such as these that Stanley asserts power, symbolic of the male dominance throughout patriarchal society. He also gains a s…

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…iking play, Tennessee Williams poses a question to society, as to whether or not these representations are accurate.

Works Cited and Consulted

Bloom, Harold. Introduction. Tennessee Williams. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. 1-8.

Londre, Felicia Hardison. “A Streetcar Running Fifty Years.” The Cambridge Companion to Tennessee Williams. Ed. Matthew C. Roudane. New York: Cambridge UP, 1997. 45-66.

Nelson, Benjamin. Tennessee Williams: The Man and His Work. New York: Ivan Obolensky, 1961.

Williams, Tennessee. “Tennessee Williams Interviews Himself.” Where I Live: Selected Essays by Tennessee Williams. Ed. Christine Day and Bob Woods. New York: New Directions, 1978. 88-92.

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