Midsummer Night Dream Sometimes in our lives reality can seem like a dream come true, in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” by William Shakespeare, to the characters, their dreams are reality. Shakespeare focuses on comic love scenes to portray dream within reality and reality within dreams. This play takes you to a fantasy world where fairies live and pixie dust is real and where anything is possible. In this world, dreams become reality and reality is alluded as a dream. The first act gives us a look at our first conflict. Hermia is betrothed to Demetrius by her father Egeus. Hermia is in love with Lysander because, as her father describes it, Lysander has “by moonlight…
interchanged love tokens with my child.” Egeus is angry that his daughter would go against his wishes so he presents his case to the king of Athens, Theseus. According to the law of Athens, death should be the sentence if you go against your father’s wishes. “By the next new moon,” she must make her decision, death or a life with Demetrius. Lysander and Hermia, of course upset by this news, plan to leave Athens and marry in another land, “I have a widow aunt… from Athens is her house remote seven leagues; there, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee, and to that place the sharp Athenian law cannot pursue us.” They plan to meet the next night in the woods.
This next scene is the scene that I will be presenting, in which Demetrius enters looking for Hermia. He is looking for them because “thou (Helena) toldst me they were stol’n unto this wood;” Helena is following him and dotting on him. She is in dreamland because she loves Demetrius. Helena is a friend of Hermia, she wants Hermia to “teach me(Helena) how you look and with what are you sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.” Helena is very much in love with Demetrius and doesn’t understand how Hermia can reject him. Helena told Demetrius of Lysander and Hermia’s plan, thinking that maybe just maybe his love will be transferred onto her. This would be her dream come true.
Demetrius is annoyed by Helena, “I love thee not; therefore pursue me not.” She could care less what he thinks. The more he rejects her “and even for that do I love you the more.” The climax of my scene is when Demetrius is angry and at his wits end and Helena, still enamored, dots more. The tone in this scene helps better portray the difference between the two characters. Helena makes loving gestures and voice inflections while Demetrius responds with disgust to everything she says. These characters have completely opposite feelings for each other. This sets them up to have an encounter with Lysander and Hermia.
Lysander and Hermia escape into the woods but they grow very weary. They decide to rest and this is where the trouble all begins. This is where the reality is alluded as a dream. Hermia makes Lysander “Lie further off, in human modesty.” This is not a custom which lovers would normally follow. When Puck (a fairy) arrives on the scene he sees them sleeping away from each other and assumes that Lysander has a “lack -love” for Hermia.
So he decides to take it upon himself to help the situation, which actually didn’t need any help. He “churl, upon thy eyes I throw all the power this charm dot owe,” while putting a love juice to Lysander’s eyes. Lysander awakens and because of the love juice, which causes him to fall in love with the first person he sees, in this case Helena. He falls instantly in love “Not Hermia but Helena I love.” Lysander leaves to follow Helena, his new found love, forgetting and leaving Hermia alone. Hermia awakens to find Lysander gone, causing more build up towards the climax.
Hermia wants to know “where is he?(Lysander).” She believes that Demetrius might have killed him. Demetrius sees that “there is no following her in this fierce vein”. So he lies down to sleep. Oberon (King of the fairies) makes Demetrius sleepy so he will not leave because Puck “hast mistaken quite and laid the love juice on some true love’s sight.” He sends Puck to find Helena so he can make Demetrius love her before things get too messy. Oberon casts love juice into Demetrius eyes. Puck returns with Helena and Lysander is also with her. Demetrius wakes up and falls in love with Helena.
This is where the play builds to a climax and mass confusion sets in. Hermia is confused because Lysander claims he loves Helena. She tells him ” you speak not as you think. It cannot be.” Helena thinks that both Demetrius and Lysander are making fun of her “but you must join in souls to mock me too?” Conflict happens between Lysander and Demetrius because Demetrius is mad that Lysander transferred his love from Hermia to Helena. He doesn’t want to share Helena. Lysander professes his love “whom I do love and will do till my death (speaking of Helena).” Helena is confused “never did mockers waste more idle breath.” Why were they wasting their breathe over her? Then starts the conflict between Hermia and Helen.
Helena asks Hermia why she “join(s) with men in scorning your poor friend? It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly.” But Hermia believes that Helenea is doing the same to her “it seems that you scorn me.” Because both men are in love with Helena not Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander start a physical battle which escalates the climax. Everyone is in a rage and a major crisis is at hand. Oberon and Puck realize the huge mess they have made! They realize that they must restore everything, so Oberon commands Puck to “crush this herb into Lysander’s eye… when next they wake, all this derision shall seem a dream and fruitless vision…” thus the name “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” When they awakening this whole night will be a dream to them but all the mishap did take place. Puck decides to bring everyone together, so that the previous mishaps will not be reacted. They are all too weary to fight and instantly fall asleep, returning once again to dreamland.
Puck squeezes the juice in Lysander’s eyes and recites a poem to return everything to place “Jack shall have Jill” meaning everyone will have one to love. To resolve the conflict that started it all between Hermia and her father, Theseus and Egeus run across the sleeping four “But soft! what nymphs are these.” Theseus asks Egeus “Is not this the day that Hermia should give answer of her choice?” They awaken the four lovers and explaining is due. Lysander and Hermia explain that they are in love, and Demetrius and Helena have also found happiness. Theseus, after hearing their love decrees, declares that “fair lovers you are fortunately met” and that he will “overbear” the will of Egeus. Demetrius, Hermia, Helena, Lysander ask each other what just happened because they believe it to be a dream, when in fact for the first time it is reality. Happiness for all is achieved.
Puck wants to end on a kind note so then to the audience he explains “If we shadows have offended think but this and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear and this weak and idle theme no more yielding but a dream.” Maybe we as audience members or readers of this play we were dreaming. This whole adventure was just a dream. To take a deeper look into the character of Helena you would notice that she wants one thing and one thing only, Demetrius. She doesn’t understand why Demetrius loves Hermia. She would do or give anything to become Hermia just to win Demetrius’s heart. Her self-esteem is not very high, she compliments Hermia and believes that she is no where near in comparison or Demetrius would like her.
She believes that “unworthy as I am to follow you,” (speaking to Demetrius). She also says that she doesn’t care how he treats her “use me, but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me, neglect me, lose me.” She is quite simple and has probably never been in love before. She is pleasant but overly in love with Demetrius, “I follow thee and make a heaven of hell, to die upon the hand I love so well.” As the play progresses Helena tries to keep her friendship with Hermia. She tries to explain she loves Demetrius not Lysander when Hermia needs that explanation. She wanted Hermia to know she didn’t try to win Lysander’s heart. Her motivation and love for Demetrius is constant throughout the play, it pays off in the end. Demetrius wants nothing more than to marry Hermia and will do anything to keep Lysander out of the picture.
He is strong willed and set in his way. His mind can not be swayed. We recognize this when he goes to King Theseus to make sure that Hermia must follow the orders of her father. In the scene that I will be presenting he wants nothing more that to get rid of Helena, to get her off his back. He wants her to stop dotting on him. By the end of the play his attitude changes ( Puck helps a little), which in leads him to just the opposite of what he was feeling before.
Now he is in fact in love with Helena. Dream land is a place we all love to go to. Shakespeare creates for us a dream within reality. Maybe the things we dream are reality. Maybe each of us have our own fairies sprinkle flower juice in our eyes.
Then again maybe not. But whether dream or reality we can’t distinguish, so let happiness be happiness.