Midsummer Nights Dream And Lunatics In A Midsummer Nights Dream, the moon is the guiding force of madness in the play which influences the chaotic nature and lunacy of the characters. The moon seems to preside over the entire play and is a symbol of change. Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies, are one example of lunatic lovers that parallel the theme of changeability. Oberon and Titania are quarreling over the possession of an Indian boy that Titania has mothered since the boy was a baby. This makes Oberon very jealous. But, Oberon doesnt help matters much with his straying after nymphs and admiring Hippolyta.
This quarrel becomes so intense that it begins to affect the seasons on earth. Titania describes it as: The spring, the summer, The childing autumn, angry winter, change Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world By their increase now knows not which is which, And this same progeny of evils comes From our debate, from our dissension; We are their parents and original. II:I 114-20 The constant changing of the earths state in the seasons creates chaos among mother nature. In order to solve the quarrel, Oberon wants to teach Titania a lesson by telling Puck or Robin Goodfellow to use a magical nectar on her and the Athenian man called Demetrius: Fetch me a flower; the herb that I showed thee once The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid Will make man or woman madly dote Upon the next live creature that it sees. II:I 172-75 In the case of the two lovers, Hermia and Lysander, they plan to meet by moonlight and elope in Athens.
Egeus, Hermias father, wishes for her to marry a man named Demetrius whom he thinks is of high stature and is fitting for his daughter as a husband. Hermia is very much in love with Lysander and chooses to directly disobey Athenian law and her fathers wishes by eloping. Hermias willingness to risk banishment from her homeland shows that love can make a person do irrational things. Helena, Hermias friend, was once the beloved of Demetrius and if she can win back his love, then Hermia and Lysander will be free to wed. In an effort to gain the attention of Demetrius, Helena betrays the secret of her dearest friend when she informs Demetrius that Hermia and Lysander are eloping. This is another example of a “lunatic lover” in Shakespeare. Helena knows that she must keep Hermias secret, but she cannot help but tell it to Demetrius in order to get him to notice her. Helenas love for Demetrius could cost her the friendship that she has with Hermia but when a person is so much in love sometimes he or she will risk anything.
A mistake made by Puck increases the chaos and madness in the play. Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and sprinkles Lysanders eyes with the potion instead. Lysander awakens and the first person he sees is Helena. Under the influence of the potion, he immediately falls in love with her. A catastrophe is created when Hermia awakens from her slumber and finds that Lysander has only eyes for Helena.
A fight emerges among the two best friends when Helena says: O spite! O hell! I see you are all bent To set against me for your merriment. If you were civil and knew courtesy You would not do me thus much injury. III:II 148-51 . Puck also sprinkles the potion on Titanias eyes causing her to act like a “lovesick lunatic”. When she awakens, she sees Bottom who is now an ass head, and she immediately falls in love with him.
Even though Bottom is an ass head, the potion hinders her judgment and she is attracted to him anyway. Otherwise, Titania would certainly not be attracted to the ass head, Bottom, at all. In these lines, Titania talks of the repulsive Bottom as a very handsome man: Come, sit thee down upon this flowry bed, While I thy amiable cheeks do coy, And stick muskroses in thy sleek smooth head, And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy. IV:I 1-4 The madness of this type of love is reflected in the line, “reason and love keep little company nowadays” from Act III, Scene I (145-46). Love is blind to reason and sometimes love overpowers reason.
Theseus in A Midsummer Nights Dream reemphasizes the connection of the lunatic and the lover, hence the phrase”lovers are lunatics”: Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet Are of imagination all compact One sees more devils than vast hell can hold; That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic, Sees Helens beauty in a brow of Egypt. V:I 5-11 The lunatic lovers in Shakespeares Twelfth Night also show the changeability and madness of love. Viola, who is disguised as a young man named Cesario, is in love with Duke Orsino.
Viola was shipwrecked and wanted to seek employment with Olivia, but she could not because Olivia did not wish to associate with anyone due to her brothers recent death. Viola is employed with Orsino instead as a eunuch. Throughout the play, Viola stays true to her purpose in helping Duke Orsino win Lady Olivias love. Orsino says that love acts like a demon and can wreck a persons life in the following lines: If music be the food of love, play on! Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die. That strain again! It had a dying fall.
I:I 1-4 At this point in the play, Orsino is not in love with one particular person. He is in love with love itself. He uses words such as “excess,” “surfeiting,” “appetite,” and “dying fall,” which shows that the Duke is sentimentally in love with love. Orsino thoroughly enjoys giving himself up to the exquisite delights of his own passions, and uses Viola (Cesario) to do his courting of Lady Olivia for him. Also in that same speech, Orsino refers to the metaphor of the sea that he loves: O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou, That, notwithstanding thy capacity Receiveth as the sea, naught enters there.
I:I 9-11 The sea is vast and symbolizes Orsinos capacity for love. The sea is also changeable, unstable, and constantly shifting. At the end of the play, Orsinos love shifts from Lady Olivia to Viola (Cesario). He has been working up to this. The Fool comments on the changing attraction and compares Orsinos love to that of an opal.
An opal is a gem stone that constantly changes color according to the nature of the light: Now the melancholy god protect thee, And the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta For thy mind is a very opal. II:IV 80-82 Another incident of love causing madness occurs when Maria concocts a scheme involving a letter and Malvolio. Malvolio discovers a letter that says should it fall by accident into the hands of the authors beloved, he should be aware that the woman who loves him is “above” him, but she begs him not to fear her “greatness”: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon em. II:V 149-50 Malvolio is to wear yellow stockings that are “cross gartered” to win the love of Lady Olivia. This attire is considered a symbol of a low-class serving person. Also, yellow is a color that Lady Olivia detests the most.
Malvolio does these outrageous things because he wishes to woo the countess, Lady Olivia. In Act III, Scene 4 (61) Olivia reacts by saying, “Why, this is very midsummer madness!” Malvolios crazy behavior of wearing the yellow stockings also shows that love is blind to reason, and a person will do just about anything to impress the one he loves. In Act III, Scene I, another lunatic action done by a lover occurs. The Lady Olivia falls in love with Cesario who is really the woman, Viola. When Cesario comes to court Olivia for Orsino one evening, Olivia tells Cesario that she will not have him.
Then as Cesario is about to leave, Olivia is curious to know what he thinks of her so she tells him to stay. This shows the changeability and madness in Lady Olivias character. Surprisingly, Olivia makes a passionate declaration of love for Cesario when she boldly refused to court any man because she was in mourning of her brothers death. Olivia says: Cesario, by the roses of the spring, By maidhood, honour, truth, and everything.. I love thee so..
Nor wit nor reason can my passion hide. III:I 146-49 Cesario cannot answer her plea for love or the disguise would be revealed so Cesario chooses to reject Olivia. Lady Olivia is now reduced to the same state as Orsino in terms of his courtship with her. They both pleaded for love and were rejected. Also, a homosexual love affair occurs between Antonio and Sebastian. Antonio cannot ignore his feelings for Sebastian but at the same time, he is now sure how Sebastian will react.
Antonio would like to be Sebastians servant but that is not possible because Sebastian dare not take Antonio to Duke Orsinos court due to the “many enemies” that are there. Antonio says that he will always treasure his friendship with Sebastian and decides to go with Sebastian anyway despite the danger. Antonio recognizes the dangers ahead if he follows Sebastian to Orsinos palace, but after the horrors of the shipwreck, future “danger shall seem sport.” This is another example of blindness and madness of love. Antonio knows the dangers of traveling to Orsinos palace, but he is willing to do it anyway because of love. Throughout all of this constant madness and lunatic love affairs in Twelfth Night, the Fool observes the incidents and manages to refrain from being involved in the madness. The Fool always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else in the play.
He saw through Violas disguise before any of the other characters: Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun; It shines everywhere. I would be sorry, sir, but the Fool Should be oft with your master as with my mistress. III:I 40-43 The continual usage of “sir” and the emphasis applied to the word when talking to Cesario hints at the Fools knowledge of Violas disguise. The rest of the characters in the play are the Fools entertainment, and he enjoys watching the lunatic lovers. In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare shows how silly people can really be and through the Fools perspective we can observe the madness of the love affairs and the vagaries of sexual attraction in the play. In conclusion, the lovers in both A Midsummer Nights Dream and Twelfth Night are lunatics and show that love is blind to reason.