Essay, Research Paper: Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare intensifies the emotion of love and foolishness in the epic
tale of four lovers and an enchanted forest in his classic Midsummer Night’s
Dream. Early in this work, we learn of two young maidens, Hermia and Helena, and
their unfulfilled passions. Hermia, the daughter of a gentleman, is cast into
the burden of marrying a suitor, Demetrius, chosen by her father for which she
does not love. Instead, she has fallen for Lysander. To agitate further, Helena
is madly in love with Demetrius, who treats her as if she does not exist. As a
result, Helena’s emotions can be shared by everybody: infatuation, betrayal,
jealousy, and spite. Therefore, it is Helena’s character that answers to
comedy as a tortured soul among lovers in fairyland. Everywhere in the play,
Helena plays the victim of Demetrius’ apathy. We find pity for poor Helena
when she finally catches up to Demetrius in the forest and says “I’ll follow
thee and make a heaven of hell, to die upon the hand I love so well“ (336). In
desperation, Helena cries “we cannot fight for love, as men may do; we should
be woo’d and were not made to woo” (336). So unrequited is her love that she
begs him “Stay, though thou kill me, sweet Demetrius” (340). Helena’s
jealousy of her friend Hermia emerges from her soliloquy “Happy is Hermia,
wheresoe’er she lies, for she hath blessed and attractive eyes” (340). When
she finally receives the attention and affection from Demetrius, she becomes
mortified at the thought that Hermia and Demetrius have plotted to humiliate her
even further by mocking her. Helena vehemently protests “O spite! O hell! I
see you all are bent to set against me for your merriment” (345). When she
finally encounters Demetrius and Hermia, she questions the decency of their
motives “Have not set Demetrius, who even but now did spurn me with his foot,
to call me goddess, nymph, divine and rare, precious, celestial?” (346). Her
torment is so real that she slowly embraces the fate of her existence. “But
fare ye well. ‘Tis partly my own fault, which death, or absence, soon shall
remedy” (346). Fortunately, as with all comedies during the Elizabethan era,
the play ends and “everything turns out exceptionally well” (327). With the
help of the fairies, Demetrius pairs with Helena and she becomes a tortured soul
no more. The only question left to ponder is the view of humanity as seen in
this play a just view of love or that of infatuation, lust, and merriment?
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