Shakespeare/Midsummer Night's Dream term paper 12512

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After a night of wandering through the woods, chasing fairies, having various

potions rubbed over their eyes, falling in and out of love, and threatening each

other's lives and limbs, the four lovers of A Midsummer Night's Dream wake up in

the forest to the trumpeting of horns and find themselves surrounded by

nobility. It's no wonder they are confused, and "cannot truly say . .

." (IV.1.7) how they ended up where they are and what happened the night

before. But what they are sure about is how they feel towards one another.

Whether it's a love that has faded, grown anew or been there all along, the four

lovers possess a certainty about who (m) they love that is as strong if not

stronger than it is at any other point in the play. Lysander is the first of the

four paramours to react to Theseus' wonderment at their situation. He admits

that "I shall reply amazedly, /Half sleep, half waking. But as yet, I

swear, /I cannot truly say how I came here." (IV.1.145-7). In this excerpt,

Lysander's tone is understandably a bit dazed and unsure, and his response is

littered with uncertainty. This tone of astonishment is also present in the

thoughts of Demetrius, Helena, and Hermia. "Methinks I see these things

with parted eye, /When everything seems double" (IV.1.188-9) exclaims

Hermia, and Helena agrees that "So methinks."(IV.1.190). Demetrius is

so bewildered that he finds it necessary to ask the others "Are you sure

that we are awake? It seems to me/ That yet we sleep, we dream."

(IV.1.192-4). The underlying tone throughout this 'waking scene' is one of

uneasiness and confusion between dreams and reality; but the only time the

lovers express real uncertainty is while they are sorting out what just happened

in front of them involving the Duke and his hunting party. Demetrius asks the

others "Do not you think/The Duke was here, and bid us follow him?"

(IV.1.194-5), and only concludes that "Why, then, we are awake."

(IV.1.197) after receiving confirmation from the others. But this tone of

uncertainty fades when the four talk about their true loves. Demetrius admits

that "I wot know by what power . . ." (IV.1.163) that his love for

Hermia has "Melted as the snow . . ."(IV.1.165), but he is sure that

"The object and the pleasure of mine eye, /is only Helena."

(IV.1.169-70). Lysander and Hermia don't even refer to their love as anytime

being in doubt--their confusion again only pertains to what is happening

presently; what Hermia sees as if out of focus, "with parted eye . .

." (IV.1.188). While it would take a whole other paper to debate whether or

not Demetrius is really in love with Helena in his drugged state, she at least

is convinced of his love. In the woods, Helena was sure that Demetrius' vows of

adoration were to scorn her, and even as he claimed to love her, she lamented

"Wherefore speaks he this/To her he hates?" (III.2.227-8). But the

next morning, she regards his vows with less doubt, and instead reflects that

she has "Found Demetrius, like a jewel/Mine own and not mine

own."(IV.1.190). She acknowledges that Demetrius was lost to her own at one

point, but more importantly she now knows that he is found. Helena’s new

acceptance of Demetrius’ love could be because his vows are much more concrete

than they were in the woods. There Demetrius proclaimed his love through claims

of admiration and idolatry; using spin words of poets without real depth, like

when he awakens and out of the blue declares Helena to be a "goddess,

nymph, perfect, divine . . ." (III.2.137). In the morning his declarations

carry an air of more reason, and focus not on empty catch-phrases of beauty and

passion. Instead, Demetrius declares more what he feels, saying "Now I do

wish [for Helena's love], love it, long for it, /And will for evermore be true

to it."(IV.1.174-5). His feelings of love are now more certain and

confident, thus he is able to express them with language more concrete.


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