A Midsummer Night?s Dream: Shakespeare’s Timeless Exploration Of Love Essay, Research Paper
Love is a timeless topic. It will forever be the theme of popular entertainment and source of confusion for men and women alike. No one understands this better than William Shakespeare, and he frequently explores this complex emotion in his writing of great works. In A Midsummer Night?s Dream he cleverly reveals the fickle and inebriating aspects of love through his mischievous character Puck.
Though Puck adds much humor to the play while tormenting and drugging the lovers in the forest, he also acts as a catalyst in redirecting their devotions among one-another, thus demonstrating the fickle nature of love. For example, Lysander, who in one instant is blindly in love with his fair Hermia, will suddenly wake to find himself obsessed with Helena. Without questioning this drastic change, he boldly proclaims to Helena, ?Content with Hermia? No, I do repent /The tedious minutes I with her have spent. /Not Hermia, but Helena I love. /Who will not change a raven for a dove?? (II.ii.118-21). Lysander?s drugged state (courtesy of Puck) was the source of his apparent change of heart, but even to this day this abrupt transformation happens more often than the average person would care to admit. Drugged or not, it is in the human nature to desire what isn?t ours, and admire the greener grass that our cute neighbor seems to have growing. The reader can also relate to Demetrius?s statement, ?Lysander, keep thy Hermia. I will none. /If e?er I loved her, all that love is gone? (III.ii.172-73). Demetrius not only admits that he has lost all favor for Hermia, but questions whether or not he ever did love her. Once again Shakespeare has beautifully illustrated the bi-polar nature of human emotions. Although the character Puck was an impish fellow, he certainly knew how to develop a study in falling in and out of love.
Puck?s serial drugging-spree serves to draw the readers? attention to another important aspect in human behavior: love is intoxicating and can diminish all powers of reasoning. Seemingly sober people can act in the most foolish ways when under the influence of love, which is illustrated when poor Helena chases after Demetrius proclaiming ?I am your spaniel, and, Demetrius, /The more you beat me I will fawn on you? (II.i.210-11). Like a drunken woman, Helena?s mind is clouded causing her to behave like a complete moron. A reader will cringe while reading about Helena?s pathetic pursuit of Demetrius, but part of that discomfort will usually stem from an equally pathetic memory of stupidity committed while under the influence of emotion. Another example of judgment gone awry while high on love is Hermia and Lysander?s rash decision to run away together despite the fact they both risk a punishment of death from Theseus if they are caught. They feel strengthened by the mere thought of ?togetherness? and are willing to take risks that they would not normally think of taking. Any synthetic chemical is likely make a person feel brave, or even invincible, and the natural endorphins that rush with love are no different in effect. Although Puck has had no part in their intoxicated judgment, they still are artificially confident.
Throughout the forest scenes in A Midsummer Night?s Dream, Shakespeare uses Puck as a device to provoke extremes in human emotion, proving that, indeed, ??what fools these mortals be? (III.ii.117). The reader is continually reminded that love is powerful, sometimes fickle, and on occasion intoxicating to the point of stupidity. Four hundred years after this play was first written it is still a common theme in movies and best selling novels, making Shakespeare timeless in his exploration of human behavior.