Philomel’s Silence in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”


imposed silence
poetic censorship

How to Cite

Tesei, V. (2023). 
Philomel’s Silence in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Linguæ & - Journal of Modern Languages and Cultures, 24(2), 51–69.


The myth of Philomel narrated in Ovid’s Metamorphoses constitutes one of the most frequent classical references in Renaissance literature and theatre. This study analyses the effects the myth produces in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to demonstrate how Philomel’s disquieting appearance in the text overlaps with a meta-poetic reflection linking the silence of the mutilated heroine to that of the poet oppressed by Elizabethan censorship. Specifically, the study focuses on analyzing the events of Hermia, Titania, and Bottom to clarify their connection to sexual violence, speech loss, and poetic censorship. Finally, the study illustrates how Bottom, portraying a Shakespearean Philomel, becomes a caricature of the poet himself. Considering the valuable contribution of critics, the essay proposes an analysis of the play to reveal its nuances and ambiguities.
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2024 Virginia Tesei