How do the different types of love that Shakespeare explores in A Midsummer Night's Dream contribute to his message about love?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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We need to be aware that this play presents us with a number of different couples. Not only do we have the young Athenian lovers, Demetrius, Lysander, Helena and Hermia, but we also have the older and possibly more maturer examples of Theseus and Hippolyta, who are due to be married shortly, and Oberon and Titania. Although Oberon and Titania spend the majority of the play feuding, their final reconciliation combined with the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta seems to present us with a stabler vision of love compared to the antics of the youthful Athenian lovers, whose various changing infatuations point towards the inconstancy of love. Clearly, if there is a message about love, it is voiced by Helena who says:

Things base and vile, holding no quantity,

Love can transpose to form and dignity,

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,

And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

However, in spite of the way that this play shows that love is ruled by emotion and not by reason, the ending and the way that things are restored to "normal," reinforced by the marrige of Theseus and Hippolyta and the reconciliation of Oberon and Titania, suggest that there are different stages to love, and once one has passed the youthful stage of infatuation and inconstancy, you are ready to start on a more sober and mature kind of love that is represented by the bond of marriage.

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