Shakespeare/Midsummer Night’s Dream term paper 12525

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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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