The story of love is amongst the most cherished and oldest traditions in the world culture. It’s romantic prevalence works throughout history, be it Austen’s dramatic narratives, Greek myths or today’s romance novels. These romantic prevalence works encourage us to have faith in the power of pure and true love. Love in some incidences can turn out to be chaotic. As far as songwriters and poets do promote the inkling of romantic love, but in reality, love experience is often filled with fraught of emotional turmoil. In most instances, when folks fall in love, they tend to come up with messy decisions, they at times disobey authority figures, rash at others who are against them and in some incidences, they succumb to poorly thought out of selections. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the statement “love is blind” not only applicable to the true lovers Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, but also it applies both to Lysander and Helena and Bottom and Titania. Thus, this paper will be looking at the dangerous Irrationality of romantic love in A Midsummer Nights Dream.
Romantic love can cause unreasonable behavior, and it comes in many dimensions. It is not a weird thing to see someone who is in love with being irrational as seen in most of the characters in the town of Athens who have been governed by the decisions of love. Love can cause people to go blind, to be foolish, to be unsettled, and to be distressed. It can lead to enmity, and even turn men and women against each other as seen through the disagreement between Oberon and Titania. Love enslaves people as it is a force that no person can have control over it.
On the other hand, love can be of much importance, beauty, and invariable relevance. According to Mayo, (295-315), ” Like dreams, love is unwise, insane and driven by desires.” The play creates a very complicated web of characters who are influenced positively and negatively by love. The love triangle between these characters; Hermia, Demetrius, Lysander, and Helena, are founded on their desires and dreams. People like Helena and Oberon, King of the Fairies, have let love command their decisions. Helena exposes to Lysander, Demetrius and Hermia’s ambition to run away and meet in the forest to please him as she is in love with him.
On the other hand, Oberon is madly in love with his wife, Queen Titania, Queen of the Fairies, and everything goes well until when she starts being attracted by an Indian prince offered to her by his mother. The lad is so good-looking, and Oberon wants to use him as his servant to save his relationship with his wife, but Titania disagrees on this, and it leads to a quarrel between them. Several consequences of the irrationality of romantic love can be seen and among them are forced love, sexual desire, and harsh decisions.
The consequences of romantic love presented in the play are forced love, and it has been a big problem for some of the characters. King Oberon is, for example, overcome by jealousy and unreasonable feelings and decides to humiliate Titania when she refuses to hand the Indian prince over to him. Overcome with anger and disguise; he lets out his annoyance in Act 2, Scene 1 by saying, ” Rash wanton: am not I thy lord.” He seeks the help of the magic and instructs Puck to place the love petals in her eyes when she is asleep to fall in love with the first individual that comes to her sight when she wakes up. The head of a craftsman, Bottom, on the other hand, is transformed and Titania ironically falls in love with him and starts chasing him upon waking up. Both Oberon and Puck laugh as they watch this happening and Oberon is finally able to acquire the Indian prince from Titania. Hermia is also forced to marry Demetrius against her wish and told that if she refuses, she will choose to either be punished by a death sentence or remain to be a nun. She refuses and plan to escape with Lysander, whom she loves, and meet in the forest. Helena betrays them to Demetrius to please him, but this does not work for her. Later, King Oberon instructs Puck to place the love petals in the eyes of Demetrius when he is asleep so as when he wakes up, he will start being genuinely in love with Helena who loves him very much.
Sexual desire is another feature of romantic love portrayed in the play. Titania is driven by sexual desire into falling in love with a young Indian prince, and this leads to misunderstandings between her and Oberon. Titania finds the boy very beautiful and attractive, and she wants to make him a “toy,” but Oberon cannot let this ruin his marriage. Hermia is also driven by sexual desire into falling in love with Lysander while her father, Egeus, wants her to be married by Demetrius. Theseus tries hard persuading Hermia to marry Demetrius saying that he ” is a notable gentleman,” but she responds by saying, “So is Lysander.” She is even threatened by Theseus and told to choose to either marry Demetrius, live like a nun or chose to die. Helena, on the other hand, tries all it means to win the heart of Demetrius. Demetrius was once in love with her, and she is still head over heels in love with him. Her sexual desires force her to use different alternatives so that she can win the heart of Demetrius. For example, she joins in as Hermia and Lysander are planning to run away and supports their union and gets to know their plan. She goes and talks out the plan to Demetrius as a way to please him and make him love her, but it does not work as Demetrius follows the two lovers into the forest. In Act 2, Scene 1, Helena goes on to explain her feelings towards him:
“Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worse place can I beg in your love,-
And yet an area of high respect with me,-
Than to be used as you use your dog?” (2.1.203-10)
Oberon then becomes curious about Helena’s depression and feel sorry for her, and he uses this as a chance to have some fun with the mortals. He commands Puck to bring her together with Demetrius and fix her love problem. Puck then goes ahead and uses the illusion of the pansy flower to make Demetrius love Helena once again.
Harsh decisions are another consequence of romantic love. Some of the characters in the play have made harsh decisions as a result of the irrationality of romantic love. One of them is Oberon, who feels so disappointed when his wife get attracted to the beautiful Indian prince. He first demands that the boy be handed over to him, but the queen refutes to this paying more attention to him and giving him the affection that the King also deserved. The love affair between his wife and the boy drives him crazy, and he decides to use another alternative to stop this. He instructs Puck to use his desire for mischief to prevent this. Puck goes ahead and brings the magical flower that the person will fall in love with at first sight after waking up. Puck also turns Bottom’s head into that of an ass so that when Titania wakes up, he will be the first thing that she will lay her eyes on. In doing this Oberon, makes a harsh decision turning an innocent artisan into an ass and forcefully taking the Indian boy from his wife to make him his servant.
Hermia is also given the harsh conditions by Theseus so that she can accept to marry Demetrius. She is told either to agree to marry or Demetrius. She can equally face a death sentence or be a nun. She loves Lysander and her father, Egeus, should be considerate and allow his daughter to marry the person she loves. Egeus discards the feelings for his daughter and makes harsh decisions. He believes that Demetrius is the fittest person for her daughter and even goes ahead and says, “And she is mine, and all my right of her/I do estate unto Demetrius.”(Shakespeare). He acts like he owns her and makes decisions on her mind, but Hermia loved Lysander and would do anything for him, even with the harsh choices of her father she wouldn’t be shaken.
Romantic love can cause unreasonable behavior, and it comes in many dimensions. Dreams and reality coexist within us as much as they do in A Midsummer Nights’ Dream. Illusion and reality which ties together the whole play and makes us conclude that the entire play was just a pleasant dream. Love can cause people to go blind, to be foolish, to be unsettled, and to be distressed. It can lead to hostility, and even turn men and women against each other . Love enslaves people as it is a force that no person can have control over it. On the other hand, love can be of much importance, beauty, and invariable relevance. We should acknowledge that no matter the dangerous irrationality of romantic love and its consequences that come with it, we should always enjoy the happy ending.
Mayo, Sarah. “A Shakespeare for the people’? Negotiating the popular in Shakespeare in Love and Michael Hoffman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Textual Practice 17.2 (2003): 295-315.
Olson, Paul A. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Meaning of Court Marriage.” (1957)
Shakespeare, William. Midsummer Night’s Dream. LMAB, 2018.