In England, during the Elizabethan Age, young women were bound by strict social conventions, including traditional norms based on gender. These social expectations are reflected in the literature of the day. Take, for instance, Hermia, a significant character in the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. She is to be married and faces a choice between the man who holds her heart and her father who represents the law of the land. Despite the opposition and oppression she endures throughout the play, Hermia remains bold, feisty, and fearless. She is courageously determined to pursue love above all else, including the prevailing social standards of the day. She wins the day through her unshakeable love and unwavering commitment to her beloved.
Hermia understands commitment and the value of relationships. And she takes her relationships seriously. We should value relationships like that, too, both personally and professionally. Think about it: if Hermia worked with you, she likely would have applied these same aspects of her personal character as she built professional relationships with you and others who work with her. She would want to strengthen the team by way of her loyalty and commitment to each person, regardless of role, to bolster the alliance to reach goals and achieve objectives.
Putting effort into building and maintaining strong relationships is vital. Having solid relationships inspires positivity and appreciation of individuals and what they bring to the table. It stimulates creativity and innovation, and encourages cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork; it motivates people which, in turn, boosts productivity. Relationship building is important for establishing a culture of mutual respect, trust, and open communication. Strong, healthy relationships are foundational to human connection in our homes, workplaces, and communities.
Shakespeare’s Hermia has a great capacity to stare down the barrel of anything that threatens her relationships. Like her, we can harness our own courage and determination to build and protect relationships. Another character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream says of Hermia, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” We can be fierce, too.