The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1259  Tuesday, 13 July 1999.

From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday 11 Jul 1999 15:13:20 -0400
Subject: 10.1232 Midsummer Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1232 Midsummer Questions

>Does anyone have any thoughts on exactly what the relationship is
>between Theseus and Egeus (Hermia's father) in Midsummer?  There seems
>to be one of some sort.  In Act I, Scene i, Theseus considers it his
>responsibility to talk to Demetrius about trifling with Helena's

The relationship seems to me to arise from seeing the Athenian
aristocrats as members of Theseus' court, like other C16 courts a loose
household with the ruler as its head, concerned like any sensible
householder to maintain domestic peace, and desirous therefore of
finding a negotiated settlement to the dispute that will minimize
discontent.  A nice feature of the recent film was the efficient
throughline on this issue, beginning with Hippolyta's evident if largely
extra-textual distaste for Egeus' hard line and Theseus' initial
legalism, passing through Theseus' offstage/camera attempt to persuade
Egeus and Demetrius to change their minds (unsuccessful, as is made
clear by both Demetrius' continued pursuit of Hermia prior to his
mind-changing encounter with the magical herb, and Egeus' continued
insistence on his paternal rights when the lovers are discovered the
morning after), and climaxing in a look exchanged between Hippolya and
Theseus just before he abandons the letter of the law and overrules
Egeus that implies offstage/camera discussions between them in which she
has persuaded him to take a more genial line.  A way to rationalize the
normal comic transit from law to equity.

Dave Evett

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