In the following speech, which uses the technique stichomythia, we understand how strong Demetrius’ feelings are for Hermia, ‘I frown upon him; yet he loves me still. ‘ Hermia is horrible to Demetrius yet he is still besotted with her; she explains that no matter how much she ignores him he still loves her. This ironically is what is happening to Helena. ‘The more I love, the more he hateth me. ‘ The nicer she is to Demetrius, the nastier he is to her, thus it is obvious love is not running smoothly for Helena. In Helena’s soliloquy she reveals her feelings for Demetrius.
She shows the audience how much she cares for him. When she finds out about Hermia and Lysander’s plan to run away together she states, ‘I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight. ‘ The deep feelings she has for Demetrius lead her to risk their friendship and shows us that when love is not running smoothly it can make you do irrational things and behave out of character. Within this soliloquy Helena also talks about love making you ‘blind’ claiming: ‘Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind’, and ‘Nor hath love’s mind of any judgment taste. ‘ When you are in love you only see what you want to.
We have heard this before when Egeus explains that a spell had overcome his daughter causing her to only see the good things and not the bad. Helena thinks that Demetrius has made the wrong decision and is lacking judgment because Hermia doesn’t actually want him. She believes that he has been ‘beguiled’ into loving Hermia, once again linking with what Egeus thinks. We find out that Demetrius used to be in love with Helena, ‘So he dissolved and showers of oaths did melt. ‘ She is saying metaphorically that when he met Hermia all his feelings for Helena disappeared. Sadly it is evident that her feelings did not change.
The whole soliloquy is ironic because he hates her, yet she still loves him. She only sees the worthy things in Demetrius and not how horrible he is to her. True love not running smooth can also crush someone’s self-esteem as we see when Helena claims, ‘I am as ugly as a bear. ‘ She has no confidence and explains how she is Demetrius’ ‘spaniel’. Shakespeare uses this metaphor to emphasize that Helena is prepared to act like a dog; devoted to its owner. Helena also realizes that nothing can hurt more than the person you love not reciprocating your feelings, ‘The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
‘ This is believed to be the cruelest thing and is echoed later on in the story in different situations. This argument between Helena and Demetrius carries on into the woods where we notice the change of scene. Shakespeare emphasizes this by the use of rhyming couplets that the characters now speak in to give the magical and ‘spell-like’ feel. Oberon, the king of the fairies, is conveniently watching the argument. ‘Thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love. ‘ Oberon vows to help Helena and tells Puck to use a special potion on Demetrius when Helena is near.
The potion will restore harmony within their relationship and love will run smoothly for them. As we are now in the woods we are introduced to the fairies, in particular Titania and Oberon who are the king and queen of the fairies. The fairies were considered ‘bad’ spirits and people believed that they could curdle milk in a bowl, make fruit rot on trees, change the weather and many other things too. Many people thought they lived in a kingdom of their own and were invisible to humans, but occasionally they allowed themselves to be seen as if in a dream.
Hence the title, because in the play Puck states that it is going to be a dream to the characters. Titania and Oberon are significant characters in the play and their relationship is not running smoothly. Their relationship has a big affect on the mortal realm and this involves the audience. Puck is Oberon’s servant and he tells the audience a lot at the beginning relating to the king and queen’s relationship. ‘And jealous Oberon would have the child/Knight of his train. ‘ Titania has an adopted child and this is what their argument is about.
Oberon wants to take the child from Titania because she gives a lot of her attention to him, which makes Oberon very jealous and his immaturity leads him to get revenge on his wife. Oberon also feels threatened by Titania. As he is the male he should be the dominant one, but Titania is a strong character and because of this there is no compromise in their relationship; neither of them is willing to back down in an argument which we can see. The argument has major effects on the mortal world, as we learn from Titania’s speech. She speaks in blank verse to show her nobility and how important she is.
The atmosphere at this stage is very depressing which Shakespeare emphasises by the fact that no one is happy. This is because of the effects of their argument. One of the effects is on the seasons, ‘The nine-men’s- Morris is filled up with mud. ‘ The seasons are mixed up and no one knows what season they are in, therefore the crops are unable to grow. At this time the people relied on the seasons and weather so that their crops could grow but now, because of the argument, there is no food. Titania states that they are the ‘parents’ of the problem and they are the only ones who can sort it out.
Oberon hints to the audience that he will get revenge on Titania in some way. ‘Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this grove / Till I torment thee for this injury. ‘ This shows his anger because Titania will not give him the boy. He acts very childishly and comes across as someone who cannot have his pride destroyed. Titania has disobeyed him; therefore Oberon has to get his own back. When Oberon is talking to Puck he speaks in rhyming couplets. This emphasises the scene they are in but also the fact that they are talking about potions so there is a magical atmosphere.
He is discussing the potion that will help restore harmony in the relationship of Demetrius and Helena; however Shakespeare implies that love should not be interfered with. This is ironic because on one hand he is using the potion for a good reason, but on the other he is using it to punish Titania and not compromise, which would be more mature. Here I think the audience feel Oberon should concentrate on his own problem he has with his wife before he deals with other relationships. When the potion is put on people’s eyes as they are sleeping, the first thing they see on waking they fall in love with.
Oberon uses the potion for Titania in a way that will cause her to fall in love with a beast or a mortal. ‘The next thing then she, waking, looks upon, Be it a lion, bear or wolf, or bull. ‘ This is his way of getting revenge on Titania and once again this shows the audience his lack of compromise and love of deception. When Oberon is speaking to Puck about the flower the potion is made from he talks in rhyming couplets. Shakespeare does this to stress that they are in the woods, and are talking about magical powers; this therefore makes the atmosphere very enchanting.
In Act 2, Scene 2 Titania is getting ready to go to bed and coincidentally this is when Oberon plays his trick on her, ‘So good night, with lullaby. ‘ Her fairies exit the setting and she is left to sleep. Little does she know she will soon wake up and be in love with a beast or a mortal, ‘When thou wak’st, it is thy dear. / Wake when some vile thing is near! ‘ Oberon squeezes the juice onto her eyes and Shakespeare uses poetry and rhyming couplets to emphasise the fact that Oberon is using a magical potion in the ‘fairy tale’ setting of the woods.