As the play progresses and moves out of he woods and toward the city the lovers find themselves between the city and the woods, which represents being between conciousness and subconscious. The love spells that were cast earlier in the play have been removed and all the previous chaos that took place seems a blur to the lovers, this confusion is shown when Lysander, after being asked why they are out of the city by Duke Theseus says: ” My lord, I shall reply amazedly, Half sleep, half waking; but as yet, I swear,
I cannot truly say how I came here” This shows that being between the woods and the city or conciousness and subconscious has a physical and mental effect on the four lovers as they cannot recall the past few hours and fell into a deep sleep. The lovers are also unsure whether they are fully awake because the magical, chaotic effects of the woods have not completely worn off but yet the rules, regulations and routines of the city have not fully kicked in. The couples are still confused as to their whereabouts as they have just woken from sleeping.
This awakening symbolises the movement from the subconsciousness into the waking conciousness world in the city of Athens and back into the bounded life in the city where social hierarchy places everybody. The usual order of things are not completely restored as the usual rivals, Demetrius and Lysander are now agreeable and not arguing as was usual before the ordeal in the woods. Although the hierarchy is shown as reinstated when Lysander addresses Thesues as ‘My lord’ showing that Lysander is again placed into the ladder of importance and is recognised as subordinate to the Duke.
When the lovers move back towards the city of Athens, order is again restored , everyone has taken back their role in structured society and all spells and chaos from the woods has disappeared. The order and rules are shown when Philostrate advises Theseus not to watch the mechanicals play and Theseus replies to his advice with: “I will hear that play; For never anything can be amiss When simpleness and duty tender it. Go on bring them in; and take your places, ladies. ” This shows that the Duke is higher and much more powerful than Philostrate and can overpower his advice as Philostrate is seen as subordinate.
Theseus tells the women to ‘Take their places’, this could mean take your places in society now that order is restored and women are lower than men. This shows order has been completely restored. The fact that Theseus has chosen to hear the mechanicals play shows that he is a loyal duke and likes to accept the little gifts that his people can afford to give him. This was unusual for highly powered people of this period as they usually only mix with people inside their own classes and prefer material gifts instead.
In conclusion has shown that women were doubly oppressed, they were oppressed in the home and in the city. We see this when Theseus is dominating Hippolyta before their wedding and sees her as a trophy of war. The oppression is not only inflicted on women, it is also cast upon the lower classes such as the mechanicals, we see this when they have to escape to the woods to get away from this. The subconscious world is symbolically explored by the woods when the lovers have to venture into the woods but are overpowered by love, passion and acrimony.
The time spent between the two worlds is also an exploration of the subconscious human mind and the difference between the transferral between the two worlds, this is represented when the lovers wake from a sleep which is symbolising the journey they take between the two worlds and the fact that they find themselves between the woods and Athens also shows this. At the end we see the order and rule being restored and everything returning back to normal after the chaos that was induced by the removal of rules, we see this throughout many different aspects whether it Theseus overruling or women again being oppressed.