It has been argued that the characters of the Athenian lovers are not particularly differentiated from one another—that Hermia is quite like Helena (even down to her name) and that Demetrius resembles Lysander. Do you think that this is the case, or do you think that the lovers emerge as individuals? If you believe that these characters are quite similar to one another, what do you think Shakespeare’s intent was in making them so?
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I would agree that the lovers are not particularly individualized, and yes, I think this is quite intentional. Look at how individualized even minor characters are in some of the plays and you'll see that this must be a choice. Why? As a commentary on the nature of love, especially young love. Young love feels intense and all consuming to the individual feeling it, but in reality, there is no depth to the attachment—to the lover or the beloved—and so the love felt can be transferred from one person to the next without pain—and without even magic, most of the time.
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