Discuss Demetrius’ treatment of Helena in act 2 Sc 1
A mid-summer nights dream is a comedy by William Shakespeare who was a play write during the Elizabethan period. He was a play write for many years and this play was probably written between 1593 and 1596. The main theme of the play is love and the struggle for power. The father (Egeus) is trying to make his daughter (hermia) marry someone she doesn’t love (Demetrius). It is the struggle of young and old. Lysander who is in love with Hermia and is the reason Hermia and Demetius don’t get married.
And Egeus who is an old man with old beliefs about woman obeying their father or men and do what they say. The play is based around a love story between 4 people, a donkey and 2 fairies. Oberon (fairy) trys to make things right between Demetius and Helena but instead his servant Puck makes Lysander fall in love with Helena. He also makes the queen of the fairies fall in love with bottom who gets turned in to a donkey by Oberon and Puck. The roles of woman during Shakespeare’s time was totally different to today foe example they couldn’t vote, couldn’t work and had to do everything men told them to do.
They had no say what so ever. Men’s roles were to be the dominant sex. Since they did all the work and told women and told women what to do and they thought they owned them and controlled them. Shakespears role as a writer was to entertain people and to entertain himself. He also had a lot of royalty watch his shows. His purpose as a writer was also to put his thoughts across to other people. Arranged marriages were also apart of Shakespeare’s life therefore he put it in his play.
The scene we have been studying is the scene, which has Demetrius and Helena in the woods. Helena is chasing Demetrius who is chasing Hermia. It is not that for into the play it is the first scene second act, which is virtually at the beginning. Demetrius is not two keen on Helena because she follows him everywhere and loves him but he doesn’t her therefore it gets on his nerves and really annoys him. He shows his dislike for Helena by saying: ‘I love thee not, therefore pursue me not’ Which tells her not to follow him since he does not love her.
Helena’s behavior towards Demetrius is stupid, she follows him everywhere since she loves him so much she states a metaphor that she is a dog: ‘I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius The more you beat me, I will fawn on you’ Which means she is his dog and will let him beat her. She does all this because she loves him. Which happens today. Women let men beat them just because they love them and hope they will change. The effect on some people will be shocking at the fact that she will say this. Whereas some people will understand what she is going through.
Men and women today will have these reactions. Having Demetrius and Helena arguing about the relationship between them shows the main themes. And Demetrius’ love for Hermia who has run off with Lysander. The effect of this scene on an Elizabethan audience would be normal since this is how women were treated then. They did anything for the man they loved. Whereas today people would be appalled with Helena’s behavior with no dignity what so ever. But Demetrius people would be disgusted at the way he treats Helena.