In Act 3 Scene 2, there is a confrontation between the four lovers Helena, Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius. Towards the end of the scene, Puck leads the lovers in the wood through ‘drooping fog’ to sleep in order to restore their proper vision. Puck does this by imitating the voices of Lysander and Demetrius which Shakespeare uses as a speech rather than a conversation. Shakespeare uses many different techniques in this extract such as, repetition, rhyming couplets, quatrians and dramatic irony .
Lysander’s language reflects his feelings of revenge and as he seeks Demetrius to fight a duel, he is very competitive, ‘I follow’d fast, but faster he did fly’. ‘He goes before me, and still hares me on;’ This shows that Lysander is immature and selfish as his character is presented through his words of revenge and competitiveness. Lysander’s last line in his speech further emphasises the obsession with revenge, ‘I’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite’. The character of Demetrius is also presented in a manly macho way where all his thoughts involve revenge on Lysander, ‘Nay then, thou mock’st me.
Thou shalt buy this dear’. Demetrius is also competitive and this emphasises his macho behaviour. Demetrius is presented in the same light as Lysander in which he is obsessed with revenge and is concerned with competitiveness Shakespeare presents Lysander and Demetrius as revengeful, selfish, and in a macho way, he does this by using dramatic irony, this is comical for the audience although this effect also reveals the feelings of the characters involved. Demetrius and Lysander talk of their revenge for each other, this is brought across in a macho way which Shakespeare may be portraying as a stereotypical view of males.
Throughout the extract, we can find that the males speak in rhyming couplets, courtiers, ‘on, gone’, ‘way, day’ ‘not, wot’ ‘place, face’. The use of rhyming couplets emphasises that Demetrius and Lysander distinguish themselves as important and of noble character. The formal style of speech the males adopt make their short sentences sound sharp, ‘thou dar’st,’, ‘thou gentle day’. Helena’s speech is full of emotion and sorrow for herself, ‘From these that my poor company detest,’ Her tiredness is shown by the repetition of ‘night’.
Helena is pitiful which is effective as it causes sympathy from the audience. Hermia is also presented in a tired and emotional way, ‘I can no further crawl, no further go,’ Unlike Helena, Hermia has a notion of forgiveness for Lysander which shows her forgiving character, ‘Heaven shield Lysander, if they mean a fray. ‘ There is a striking comparison between the two genders in which the females talk of themselves rather than the males who talk of their revenge on each other. Shakespeare’s presentations of the male and female characters show many differences.
Demetrius and Lysander are hot-tempered and concentrate on their fight for Hermia, whereas Hermia and Helena’s speeches are about themselves and their emotions. This comparison is further emphasised by their dramatic speech, Helena and Hermia both speak in quatrians, this effect expresses their weariness compared to the males noble speeches. Demetrius and Lysander’s sentences are sharp but Helena and Hermia’s speeches emphasise the sounds f the vowels, ‘And sleep that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye’. This shows that Shakespeare is trying to portray distinct differences between males and females.
Shakespeare also uses repetition to distinguish the male and female speeches in Helena and Hermia’s opening speech they repeat themselves, ‘O weary night, O long and tedious night,’ and ‘Never so weary, never so in woe. ‘ The use of repetition is effective as it emphasises their fatigue making the women look vulnerable rather than the macho look of the men. In this scene the character of Puck is portrayed in an amused and light-hearted manner as opposed to the seriousness of the ‘humans’. Pucks imitation of the humans causes dramatic irony ‘Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why com’s thou not?
‘ Shakespeare also uses the character of Puck to emphasis the gender differences of men and women. Puck ‘strings’ the males along whereas he simply leads the women through the darkness. Pucks attitude to women is shown when he refers to females as men’s possession, ‘that every man should take his own, ‘The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well. ‘ Pucks attitude towards women is typical of the attitude at the time as women were often seen as the weaker sex and were thought of to be submissive towards men. Puck also expresses another view of women, ‘Cupid is a knavish lad Thus to make poor females mad’.
Puck’s tone of pity is shown through this speech as the word ‘poor’ emphasises this. Puck speaks in rhyme which is fairylike, nave and even magical, ‘On the ground, Sleep sound, I’ll apply To your eye, Gentle lover, remedy’. This rhyming pattern is effective as it not only links in with the magical feeling and the spell, but it also reminds the audience that Puck is a fairy. In this extract, a repetition of sunlight is expressed through the four lovers. ‘Come, thou gentle day’, ‘If ever I thy face by daylight see’, Abate thy hours, shine comforts from the east’, and ‘Here will I rest me till the break of day’.
This effect shows that they are unconsciously know that all will be restored in the morning. The fact that the four lovers have been thrown into a state of chaos is used for comic effect. In conclusion, Shakespeare uses many different types of speech for different effects. Lysander and Demetrius’ manly, selfish, and revengeful character is shown through their repetition and rhyming couplets. Hermia and Hermia are presented through their emotional speeches, and their alternate rhymes emphasis their weariness. Puck’s fairylike and nave character reveals his attitude toward men and women and the use of rhyme is simple and childlike.