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Midsummer Night’s Dream

After a night of wandering through the woods, chasing fairies, having various
potions rubbed over their eyes, falling in and out of love, and threatening each
other’s lives and limbs, the four lovers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream wake up in
the forest to the trumpeting of horns and find themselves surrounded by
nobility. It’s no wonder they are confused, and “cannot truly say ..

.” (IV.1.7) how they ended up where they are and what happened the night
before. But what they are sure about is how they feel towards one another.

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Whether it’s a love that has faded, grown anew or been there all along, the four
lovers possess a certainty about who (m) they love that is as strong if not
stronger than it is at any other point in the play. Lysander is the first of the
four paramours to react to Theseus’ wonderment at their situation. He admits
that “I shall reply amazedly, /Half sleep, half waking. But as yet, I
swear, /I cannot truly say how I came here.” (IV.1.145-7). In this excerpt,
Lysander’s tone is understandably a bit dazed and unsure, and his response is
littered with uncertainty. This tone of astonishment is also present in the
thoughts of Demetrius, Helena, and Hermia. “Methinks I see these things
with parted eye, /When everything seems double” (IV.1.188-9) exclaims
Hermia, and Helena agrees that “So methinks.”(IV.1.190). Demetrius is
so bewildered that he finds it necessary to ask the others “Are you sure
that we are awake? It seems to me/ That yet we sleep, we dream.”
(IV.1.192-4). The underlying tone throughout this ‘waking scene’ is one of
uneasiness and confusion between dreams and reality; but the only time the
lovers express real uncertainty is while they are sorting out what just happened
in front of them involving the Duke and his hunting party. Demetrius asks the
others “Do not you think/The Duke was here, and bid us follow him?”
(IV.1.194-5), and only concludes that “Why, then, we are awake.”
(IV.1.197) after receiving confirmation from the others. But this tone of
uncertainty fades when the four talk about their true loves. Demetrius admits
that “I wot know by what power . . .” (IV.1.163) that his love for
Hermia has “Melted as the snow . . .”(IV.1.165), but he is sure that
“The object and the pleasure of mine eye, /is only Helena.”
(IV.1.169-70). Lysander and Hermia don’t even refer to their love as anytime
being in doubt–their confusion again only pertains to what is happening
presently; what Hermia sees as if out of focus, “with parted eye ..

.” (IV.1.188). While it would take a whole other paper to debate whether or
not Demetrius is really in love with Helena in his drugged state, she at least
is convinced of his love. In the woods, Helena was sure that Demetrius’ vows of
adoration were to scorn her, and even as he claimed to love her, she lamented
“Wherefore speaks he this/To her he hates?” (III.2.227-8). But the
next morning, she regards his vows with less doubt, and instead reflects that
she has “Found Demetrius, like a jewel/Mine own and not mine
own.”(IV.1.190). She acknowledges that Demetrius was lost to her own at one
point, but more importantly she now knows that he is found. Helenas new
acceptance of Demetrius love could be because his vows are much more concrete
than they were in the woods. There Demetrius proclaimed his love through claims
of admiration and idolatry; using spin words of poets without real depth, like
when he awakens and out of the blue declares Helena to be a “goddess,
nymph, perfect, divine . . .” (III.2.137). In the morning his declarations
carry an air of more reason, and focus not on empty catch-phrases of beauty and
passion. Instead, Demetrius declares more what he feels, saying “Now I do
wish for Helena’s love, love it, long for it, /And will for evermore be true
to it.”(IV.1.174-5). His feelings of love are now more certain and
confident, thus he is able to express them with language more concrete.


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