The Metamorphosis and MSND manifest similar elements that are made evident throughout. Ovid was venerated by Shakespeare in his works. During the development of MSND, Shakespeare utilized Ovid’s Metamorphosis. Through his work in MSND, influence taken from Ovid’s Metamorphosis is illustrated through the plot and characters. The four lovers in MSND closely resemble Apollo and Daphne with their personas and objectives. MSND’s plot resembles that of Ovid’s through the play’s use of allusion.
Love is explored through its capriciousness and changeability by means of the plot driven by a character in the course of both works. Puck, in MSND, exposes the unpredictability of love. Oberon instructed him to use the love potion on Demetrius. By mishap, he puts the potion on Lysander. When woken up, he found himself drowning in love for Helena, “Content with Hermia? No, I do repent/ The tedious minutes I with her have spent. / Not Hermia, by Helena I love. / Who will not change a raven for a dove?” (II. ii. 118-21). This is seen similar in The Metamorphosis. Cupid, aggravated by Apollo’s mockery, shot two arrows, to love and to embitter. Hitting Apollo with the love arrow, he desires Daphne, who is hit with the embittered arrow, “Thus the god and the nymph sped on, one made swift by hope and one by fear; but he…was assisted by love’s wings” (Ovid 2). Derived by one character, the capriciousness of love can make one act foolish and irrational. Emotions play into the fickle nature of love in both works, whether one is under the influence of a spell or not.
The four lovers share several traits of those that Apollo and Daphne have. Role reversal is one undertaken by characters. Upon seeing Daphne, Apollo exclaims, “I implore you…do not run away! Though I pursue you, I am no enemy. Stay, sweet nymph!” (2). Once Apollo is stricken by the arrow, he converts from ‘the chased’ to ‘the chaser’. In MSND, Helena goes through the same reversal. Through her reversal, it also reveals an example of love’s fickle nature. To Demetrius, Helena calls out, “Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex./ We cannot fight for love as men may do./ We should be wooed and were not made to woo” (II. I. 247-9). Acting out of her gender role, she shows that Demetrius should be pursuing her instead. While Apollo is used to being the ‘wooer’, Helena is not. Their role reversals are vital to their own plots to help them develop the tale.
Among all the connections that can be found, there is one glaring difference. Even though the four lovers and Apollo and Daphne are all under some type of influence, the reason why is dissimilar. When Apollo demeans Cupid because he has yet to commit a heroic deed with his arrows, he seeks revenge. Cupid retorts, “Your bow may pierce everything else Phoebus, but mine will pierce you” (2). Then Cupid “drew two darts, with different properties” (2) out of malice. In contrast, the four lovers are placed under spell for...