Love is a powerful emotion, capable of turning reasonable people into fools. Out of love, ridiculous emotions arise, like jealousy and desperation. Love can shield us from the truth, narrowing a perspective to solely what the lover wants to see. Though beautiful and inspiring when requited, a love unreturned can be devastating and maddening. In his play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare comically explores the flaws and suffering of lovers. Four young Athenians: Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, and Helena, are confronted by love’s challenge, one that becomes increasingly difficult with the interference of the fairy world. Through specific word choice and word order, a struggle between lovers is revealed throughout the play. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare uses descriptive diction to emphasize the impact love has on reality and one’s own rationality, and how society’s desperate pursuit to find love can turn even strong individuals into fools.
In response to Hermia’s defiance toward marrying Demetrius, Theseus offers Hermia three choices in the first scene: to obey her father’s will; to become a nun and forever stay an unwed virgin; to die. The extremity of these punishments presented by Theseus, and Hemia’s decision to accept these punishments rather than marry Demetrius, exaggerates how love can lead to irrational sacrifices. Shakespeare then compares a married woman to a plucked and distilled rose, and an unwed woman to a withering unplucked rose on a “virgin thorn.” This potent imagery contrasts the sweet smell of perfume to the harmful touch of a thorn. If Hermia continues to defy the desires of her father, she is sacrificing a happily married life in hopes of following her heart.
In pursuit of her own heart’s desires, Helena, a dear friend of Hermia, tries to gain the love of Demetrius. Blinded by her jealousy of Hermia, Helena finds it difficult to understand why Demetrius does not love her, but instead, loves her friend. She blames love itself, describing it as childish and blind. The image of the blindfolded Cupid and childish boys in sport help place blame on love for judging unfairly, seeing unclearly, and playing with the heart. Intent on stealing Demetrius from Hermia, Helena plans on pursuing Demetrius into the forest. This idea begins to portray how love can negatively influence one’s motives and actions.
To the discontent of Demetrius, Helena follows through with her plan and chases him into the woods. Demetrius becomes the voice of reason in this scene, a striking foil to a now foolish Hermia. He begins by saying The similarities between the structures of the two phrases, connected by the word therefore, exemplify the rationality of Demetrius that is continued throughout the conversation. He later asks questions that seem to beg Hermia to accept his dislike of her and to stop her irrational behavior. By stressing the sincerity in his love for Hermia, he...