A Midsummer Night's Dream Religious Analysis

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The characters in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream invoke "god" at multiple points in the play; however, the significance of this lies in the fact that there is a clear transition from invocations of a monotheistic god in Athens to polytheistic godheads in the forest's otherworld. The former evokes a sense of single, orderly rule, while the latter is evocative of a multiplicity of rulers, and a sense of laws vying against lawlessness. It bears mentioning that Christianity was not even in vogue during the time this play is supposed to be set in, so the addition of references to a monotheistic, Christian god by Shakespeare is patently anachronistic, and perhaps to analyze the word "god" in this context only serves to introduce further anachronisms. To be clear, then, the focus of this analysis will not be on Christian versus Ancient Greek forms of religious worship, but rather on a general comparison of monotheism and polytheism in relation to the play, its themes, and characters. In particular, the characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream transition from invoking a singular god in Athens to allusions to multiple gods and goddesses in the forest. In the play's opening scene, Theseus advises Hermia that her "father should be as a god" (Shakespeare 1.1.47). This is a powerful and weighty message to impart: by the use of the word "god" and…show more content…
His use of the word "goddess" is conspicuous here. It is used primarily to convey his utmost love for Helena; Demetrius, hitherto scornful of Helena, suddenly champions her virtues. However, the word god, or in this instance its feminine counterpart, "goddess", is born from love, rather than used as a call to order and obedience. The word goddess also signals a departure from monotheism, and serves as a prelude to the chaotic happenings that

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