Although Theseus is only in the play for a short time and has quite a peripheral role and yet he is central in the plot.
He appears only in the early and late scenes yet what takes place the middle of the play involving the lovers in the forest is due to Theseus’ decision to stand by the will of Egeus and enforce marriage between Hermia and Demetrius. “To fit your fancies to your father’s will; Or the law of Athens yields you up,- Which by no means we may extenuate,- To death, or to a vow of single life. The fact that Thesius is well respected in the mythological world, being most famous for slaying the Minotaur, reflects his character in ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ as a powerful and just figure. People with extensive knowledge of Greek mythology would immediately know that a character bearing the name ‘Theseus’ was a person of honour, power and dignity. The fact that Theseus is about to be married to Hippolyta shows that Theseus is a man with love and passion and not just a stern authority figure.It is revealed that during his private life he can become impatient, “our nuptial hour draws on apace; four happy days bring in another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow this old moon wanes! ” Implying that he can not wait for his wedding day as he notices how slow time is passing.
His upcoming marriage also presents a cruel irony, which sees Theseus becoming happily married while he denies the wedding of another couple in love. Theseus main and most important role in the play is the role of judge.As he decides the fate of Hermia this is a decision which will greatly effect the lives of three young Athenians which he makes with great calm and consideration. He makes this decision with the law of Athens in mind, which he obviously regards as very important. Although this is the right thing to do (upholding Athenian law) he may loose the sympathy of the audience at this point. He often retains favour with the audience, despite his harsh exterior, due to his less stern, and even childish qualities, such as his impatience regarding his upcoming marriage and wanting to party and enjoy himself.Stir up the Athenian merriments; Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth:” This shows him to be merry and social when he is not working. Theseus can be compared to Oberon, king of the fairies, due to the parallel between these two characters in their own ‘worlds’.
All of the characters in the play, other than the players, are under the control of either Theseus or Oberon, depending on where they came from, the world of the mortals or the fairies. Theseus represents the reality in parallel with the ‘dream world’ of the forest, represented by Oberon.Theseus refuses to believe the stories of the lovers’ time in the forest and passes them off as dreams. “More strange than true: I never may believe These antique fables, nor these fairy toys. ” At the end of the play Theseus comes through as a compassionate, comedic character, compared to his harsh persona at the beginning of the play. He allows true love to prevail and overbears the wishes of Egeus. “Egeus, I will overbear your will; For in the temple, by and by, with us These couples shall be eternally knit” And laughs and jokes with the lovers during the wedding banquet.
Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead. ” “Ay, and Wall too. ” These points outline Theseus involvement, character and overall power and presence in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and display his overwhelming effect on the plot and presentation of the play.
He is featured only in small portions of the play but significant throughout. He is a leader, judge, jury and friend to the lovers and without him the plot would fall apart at the seams. He is arguably the most important and influential character in the play.