The unarguable theme in Shakespeare’s “A midsummer night’s dream” is love. Here the playwright explores how people fall in love and that the pursuit of love can make people irrational and foolish. By using the cliché that “the course of true love never did run smooth” Shakespeare suggests that love is “really an obstacle course with the capacity to turn us all into madmen.” (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). Furthermore the love represented in this play is far from true and by placing his characters in the fairy realm Shakespeare suggests that love is simply an illusion.
The idea of difficult love is very often explored through the motif of” love out of balance”. (SparkNotes Editors, 2002) ...view middle of the document...
THESEUS. Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And won thy love doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph, and with reveling. (1.1.16-19)
We see that Theseus uses “with triumph” thus we cannot say that there is love of any kind. Although he says “I woo’d thee with my sword” he refers rather to his right to marry Hippolyta than actual love.
If we examine Lysander and Hermia we could see the same relation between love and the right of marriage. Although Lysander and Hermia claim that they are in love, Hermia does not mention the concept of love to neither of the men questioning her feelings toward Lysander. As if she is aware that her marriage will have nothing to do with love. Demetrius confirms this idea by, instead of confessing his love to Hermia he simply tells Lysander to give up Hermia since her father has promised him Hemia’s hand in marriage. "Relent, sweet Hermia, and Lysander, yield/Thy crazed title to my certain right (1.1.91-92)." It is clear that Demetrius does not feel any kind of love towards Hermi, but rather wants to marry her since it is his right to do so.
Helena mistakes her obsession for love and her maddening feelings for Demetrius further confirms the idea that love is just an illusion. In her obsessive state Helena needs to have Demetrius pay attention to her and she is willing to be mentally and physically abused by him.
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.
Use me but as your spaniel; spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you. (2.1.204-207)
Helena’s confused feelings may be mistaken for true love only because of the intensity she uses to express herself. This confusion escalates when both Demetrius and Lysander confess their love under the influence of the spell. However this confusion does not seem to disappear even after she wakes to find Demetrius still in love with her. Both Helena...