Midsummer night's dream
The Couples of "A Midsummer Night's Dream": Romantic Love Satirized
On the surface "A Midsummer Night's Dream" appears to be a celebration of romantic love. Romantic love should be understood as an attraction between two people that creates a committed, mutually beneficial relationship, not dependant on sexual attraction and where both participants are of equal status. The play begins with a upcoming marriage between Theseus and Hippolyta; the initial conflict that begins the play is Lysander and Hermia having to fight for their relationship and by the end all the couples are reunited. However by examining how each couple enters the play and how each couple developed and constructed by the end, it appears that Shakespeare is using each couple as a tool to satirize each level of a relationship. Helena and Demetrius represent the pre-relationship state; Lysander and Hermia represent the relationship; Theseus and Hippolyta represent the engagement and marriage is represent by Oberon and Titania. By taking apart each stage of a romantic relationship, Shakespeare seems to be critiquing idealistic assumptions of romantic love and that romantic love is often created for lustful or superficial reasons rather than for true romantic love as defined above. Throughout the
play the magical flower juice potion is used throughout the play to symbolize the notion of lust or superficial love. The potion is always applied on the eyes and creates instant and extreme physical attraction, comparable to lust, which is concerned only with the physicality of a person and instant in its hold on people. Ultimately as a result of the representations of love in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" it would appear Shakespeare is satirizing the idea of romantic love, painting it as a delusion to hide the selfish personal influences of lust and power.
As the play begins the character Demetrius claims that he is in love with Hermia but it is later revealed by Lysander that Demetrius and Helena have a prior engagement before the play. Lysander says to Egeus "Demetrius- I'll avouch it to his head- Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena, And won her soul,"(I.I.106). Demetrius claims he is now in love with Hermia but previously he was said to be in love with Helena. Representing the pre-stage of a romantic relationship Romantic love is being challenged and satirized by Demetrius. Right from the start the romantic love that Demiteruis had for Helena is being saterized by Shakespeare showing how brittle and weak and easily exchangeable romantic love can be. By the end of the play romantic love is easily created in Demetrius with some magical flower juice by Puck. By putting the juice on Demetrius' eyes and once again making him fall in love with Helena Puck creates romantic love but since the magical flower juice symbolizes lust and superficial love so does Demetrius experience with romantic love. The end effect is that through A Midsummer Night's Dream romantic love is satirized as exchangeable, transient and lustful especially in its early stages.
Representing the next stage of romantic relationships in the play is Lysander and Hermia. Lysander's relationship with Hermia starts out to be a very traditional depiction of romantic love but as the play proceeds their relationship is challenged in multiple levels. Initially Lysander and Hermia's relationship is challenged by Egeus. Egeus does not want Lysander to marry Hermia because he feels that there is a better suitor for his daughter in Demetrius. Hermia is given the choice of death, going to a nunnery, or marrying Demetrius. In response Lysander and Hermia choose to run away to maintain their romantic relationship. With this beginning to their relationship, it might appear that Lysander and Hermia's relationship is a depiction of romantic love, but as events in the play unfold their relationship comes to depict something else, the controlling influence lust can have on...
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