Exploration Of The Nature Of Love In A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“The lunatic and lover are all of one imagination” (Act 5, Scene 1, Lines 8-8). Theseus quotes the idea that love is an illusion and a product in the imagination. Love is often seen as a combination of poetry and lunacy. This makes it difficult to question the existence of love. A Midsummer Night’s Dream reveals many perspectives on love. Bottom accurately portrays the four main lovers by saying, “O that fools these mortals” (Act 3, Scene 2, 115). Theseus, unlike the other main characters, believes in romanticism. This creates a contrast between reason and love. If reason is used to rationalise love then it may not exist at all or be very fragile. Act 1 Scene 1 Hermia declares that she loves Lysander. (Act 1, Scene 1, lines 169-174) This strong oath invokes power from mythological beings. It is, however, intangible. It cannot resist “Love-in-Idleness”, even though the oath speaks of powerful and unrestrained desires. The potion creates a reason to love. It is not an intangible feeling. This means that “Love-in-Idleness”, which is a physical representation of love, can be created. This raises the question: What is love if it cannot conquer death? Olson asserts that love moves always to impress itself upon the Chaos base material (105). It is difficult to find a perfect example of love in this play. Demetrius, Helena, Lysander and Hermia are all young lovers. They do not show an unwavering devotion to each other. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 demonstrates true love. It “looks upon tempests but is never shaken” (6). Olson doesn’t believe love can overcome chaos. In this play, Lysander (Demetrius) and Lysander (Lysander), are magically forced to move their love from Hermia into Helena. The play is about balance. This is why the young lovers are happily married at the end. The chaos caused the potion, which is an attack on nature, causes tension. Balance must be restored to resolve it. The potion acts as a catalyst to this loving end, making marriage a more convenient solution. The potion is an essentially liquid and signifies the fluidity in the identities of young lovers. It becomes difficult to tell the difference between Helena and Hermia as the play progresses. Their names are almost identical. Marshall’s assertion that they are “changelings” in that their interactions form the plot of the play is supported by this. (568)” I believe Shakespeare used the potion to demonstrate how easy it is for the lover’s affections to be swayed. Helena’s stoic claim “Love doesn’t look with the eyes, it looks with the mind” is mocked by their affection switching. Act 1, Scene 1, Line 234. Her statement implies that love is determined by the impressions of the lover. If the impressions are so fluid and easy to manipulate, then it is difficult for the lover to fall in love. It is noteworthy that Helena and Hermia are faithful to Lysander, Demetrius and their female lovers. Lysanders can be influenced by the potion so they cannot keep true. Hermia’s swear in the beginning is undermined by this. Also, the use of the potion to incite love is mocking. “Love does not alter with his short hours or weeks (11)” – this is the definition of love according to the sonnet. However, the play shows that love can be altered in hours which further highlights the false nature of love. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the play’s title, reminds us that dreams can be distorted. The pretext of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” allows readers to enter a realm of fantasy, where love is possible to manipulate. This idea may offend sensibilities, as well as the traditional logic that love transcends all failures. Puck acknowledges that when he finishes the play, he apologizes for his offenses. This weak, incoherent theme, No further yielding but the dream… (Act 5, Scene 1, Pages 415-420). This is because the structure of a play within play, that is “The most lamentable & most cruel death Pyramus and Thisby”, reminds that we are only performing. This reminds the reader of the illusion that is the stage and the uncertainty it creates. These uncertainties make it hard to believe that the Midsummer Night’s Dream’s love displays are genuine. A Midsummer Night’s Dream contains many examples of love being coerced, forced or forced upon unwilling people. Act 1 Scene 1 introduces us to the dilemma of Lysander and Hermia’s love. Egeus demands that Hermia mar Demetrius, if she doesn’t, then she will either die or become a nun. Marshall offers an explanation to Egeus’ tyranny. Marshall explains that Egeus believes Hermia’s perception “is rightfully His, which is the reason why Hermia’s claims to think and speak for itself is also a crime to her father. (551) Both humans and fairies attempt to create love that is beneficial to leaders rather than the lovers. Egeus insists Hermia be submissive to Demetrius; Hippolyta must marry Theseus in order to show his dominance over her country. The romantic landscape is being controlled by non-human characters as well. Love is subject to interference and hinders natural progress. A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a lot to do with creating contrasts in scenes. Similar to the love notions, they are being compared. Young lovers become so obsessed with their love that they lose touch with reality and escape to a forest-based alternate reality. Their love story is one that has no logic. Theseus ridicules the idea by saying that “Lovers or madmen have such swollen brains, Such shaping fantasies. That apprehend Cooler reason than any understands.” (Act 5, Scene 1, lines 4-6) He is mocking young lovers for their love and dismissing it as a fantasy without logic. This is especially true for lovers who disregard their families and will even sacrifice their lives to love one another. Helena, a foolish lover, avows that she is your spaniel and Demetrius. Don’t treat me like a spaniel. Is there any worse place than to beg your love – Or to be treated as you treat your dog? (Act 2, Scene 1, lines 202-210) “This passionate avowal lacks dignity, sensibility, and passion. It is absurd for her to beg Demetrius’ love but only to have him fall in love with her at the end. The love of Demetrius and his lover is a joke when we consider that their shared pains are eclipsed by “Love-in-Idleness.” This could be Shakespeare’s play on Shakespeare’s love. The pansy, in effect creates love (idleness) without the need to do anything. Although I do not intend to prove that the young lovers are in love, it is important to remember that Lysander believed that true love was never a smooth process (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 134). It is possible to love if you see the path of true love as difficult. This conclusion is simplistic as it doesn’t take into consideration the fickle nature of young lovers. It’s then hard to discern if love exists. This makes it difficult to say if true love is real. Shakespeare said in Sonnet 116, “If this be error, upon me proven, I never wrote, nor ever loved.” Works CitedMarshall. “Exchanging Visions: Reading a Midsummer Night’s Wish.” ELH. Vol. 49, No. 3. (Autumn, 1982), pp. 543-575
Paul A. Olson “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The Meaning of Court Marriage.” ELH. Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1957), pp. 95-119
Shakespeare, William. A whimsical nighttime fantasy set in ancient Greece. New York: Penguin Group, 2000. – . Sonnet 116. The Norton edition of William Shakespeare’s works. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. published a book in 1997 based in New York. 1962.