After a night of wandering through the woods, chasing fairies, having variouspotions rubbed over their eyes, falling in and out of love, and threatening eachother’s lives and limbs, the four lovers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream wake up inthe forest to the trumpeting of horns and find themselves surrounded bynobility. It’s no wonder they are confused, and “cannot truly say . .
. ” (IV. 1. 7) how they ended up where they are and what happened the nightbefore.
But what they are sure about is how they feel towards one another. Whether it’s a love that has faded, grown anew or been there all along, the fourlovers possess a certainty about who (m) they love that is as strong if notstronger than it is at any other point in the play. Lysander is the first of thefour paramours to react to Theseus’ wonderment at their situation. He admitsthat “I shall reply amazedly, /Half sleep, half waking. But as yet, Iswear, /I cannot truly say how I came here. ” (IV.Order now
1. 145-7). In this excerpt,Lysander’s tone is understandably a bit dazed and unsure, and his response islittered with uncertainty. This tone of astonishment is also present in thethoughts of Demetrius, Helena, and Hermia. “Methinks I see these thingswith parted eye, /When everything seems double” (IV. 1.
188-9) exclaimsHermia, and Helena agrees that “So methinks. “(IV. 1. 190). Demetrius isso bewildered that he finds it necessary to ask the others “Are you surethat we are awake? It seems to me/ That yet we sleep, we dream. “(IV.
1. 192-4). The underlying tone throughout this ‘waking scene’ is one ofuneasiness and confusion between dreams and reality; but the only time thelovers express real uncertainty is while they are sorting out what just happenedin front of them involving the Duke and his hunting party. Demetrius asks theothers “Do not you think/The Duke was here, and bid us follow him?”(IV.
1. 194-5), and only concludes that “Why, then, we are awake. “(IV. 1.
197) after receiving confirmation from the others. But this tone ofuncertainty fades when the four talk about their true loves. Demetrius admitsthat “I wot know by what power . . .
” (IV. 1. 163) that his love forHermia has “Melted as the snow . . .
“(IV. 1. 165), but he is sure that”The object and the pleasure of mine eye, /is only Helena. “(IV. 1. 169-70).
Lysander and Hermia don’t even refer to their love as anytimebeing in doubt–their confusion again only pertains to what is happeningpresently; what Hermia sees as if out of focus, “with parted eye . . . ” (IV. 1. 188).
While it would take a whole other paper to debate whether ornot Demetrius is really in love with Helena in his drugged state, she at leastis convinced of his love. In the woods, Helena was sure that Demetrius’ vows ofadoration were to scorn her, and even as he claimed to love her, she lamented”Wherefore speaks he this/To her he hates?” (III. 2. 227-8).
But thenext morning, she regards his vows with less doubt, and instead reflects thatshe has “Found Demetrius, like a jewel/Mine own and not mineown. “(IV. 1. 190).
She acknowledges that Demetrius was lost to her own at onepoint, but more importantly she now knows that he is found. Helenas newacceptance of Demetrius love could be because his vows are much more concretethan they were in the woods. There Demetrius proclaimed his love through claimsof admiration and idolatry; using spin words of poets without real depth, likewhen he awakens and out of the blue declares Helena to be a “goddess,nymph, perfect, divine . . . ” (III.
2. 137). In the morning his declarationscarry an air of more reason, and focus not on empty catch-phrases of beauty andpassion. Instead, Demetrius declares more what he feels, saying “Now I dowish for Helena’s love, love it, long for it, /And will for evermore be trueto it. “(IV. 1.
174-5). His feelings of love are now more certain andconfident, thus he is able to express them with language more concrete.