Homework Help

What does "And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together...

user profile pic

jake1995 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 3, 2009 at 5:38 AM via web

dislike 1 like

What does "And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays" mean? 

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted May 3, 2009 at 8:51 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

This quote is from Act 3, sc. 1 and it is spoken by Bottom to Titania.  Puck, seeing that Bottom was acting like a fool, turns Bottom's head into the head of a donkey.  Titania has fallen immediately in love with Bottom upon waking because Oberon annointed her eyes with the juice from the flower. Bottom is unaware of his transformation and is confused about Titania's attentions, so he delivers the line in question. The quote is one of the underlying ideas of the play - that love sometimes occurs without reason.  People don't always use common sense when it comes to love because emotion takes over.  In Act 1, sc. 1, Lysander says that "The course of true love never did run smooth." This, again, means that logic doesn't always have anything to do with love because emotions aren't necessarily logical.

Educator Approved

Educator Approved
user profile pic

bal-de-vis | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 23, 2012 at 8:56 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

I've always assumed that it means the same as another Shakespeare quote, "love makes fools of us all."

user profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:31 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

The line is spoken by Bottom in William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act III Scene 1. The full quotation is:

[Bottom:] Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays.
This passage contrasts reason with the fantastic world of the dream itself, with its magic and fairies. In this scene, Bottom has been transformed into a donkey and Puck has placed the magical drops in Titania's eyes that make her fall in love with him. Both of these transformations lie outside the possibilities of the real world of reason. 
 
Bottom's analysis, that Titania's declaration by love is not inspired by reason, is a statement regarding a particular instance of love, but then he follows it up with a more general conclusion that love is not rational. Thematically, that notion drives much of the play's plot, in that the love of Oberon and Titania for the changeling, the loves of the four young human lovers, and even Theseus' love for Hippolyta,lead them to irrational behavior.
 
Thematically, however, another major point of the play is that poetry, like love, is not in its nature fully rational, and just as the lovers act on emotions rather than reason, the duty of poetry is to be entertaining, as Puck suggests, and like a vision or a dream, not to contain philosophical or scientific arguments.
 

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes