A Midsummer Night's Dream


Significant Quotations

1. LYSANDER. Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,

Could ever hear by tale or history,

The course of true love never did run smooth;

But either it was different in blood—

HERMIA. O cross! Too high to be enthrall’d to low!

LYSANDER. Or else misgraffed in respect of years—

HERMIA. O spite! Too old to be engag’d to young.

LYSANDER. Or else it stood upon the choice of friends—

HERMIA. O hell, to choose love by another’s eyes!

LYSANDER. Or if there were a sympathy in choice,

War, death or sickness did lay siege to it,

Making it momentary as a sound,

Swift as any shadow, short as any dream. (I.i.132-144)

This conversation takes place between the star-crossed lovers just after Theseus has decreed that Hermia must either agree to marry Demetrius, or else choose between a convent and death. Lysander’s now-famous assertion that “the course of true love never did run smooth” establishes the play’s major theme of love’s obstacles. Lysander goes on to enumerate certain obstacles others have faced, with Hermia passionately responding to each one in their quick back-and-forth exchange. Their choice of language borders on melodrama, underscoring the farcical (rather than tragic) nature of this play. Lysander and Hermia are both completely swept up in the drama of their forbidden love, and there is an element of parody in how seriously they take themselves. This element runs throughout the various love troubles of the four young Athenians in the play, prompting Puck’s famous exclamation: “Lord! What fools these mortals be” in Act III.

2. OBERON. That very time I saw (but thou couldst not),

Flying between the cold moon and the earth,


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Essays About A Midsummer Night's Dream