In what ways does this extract from A Midsummer Night's Dream exemplify some of the main themes in the text under discussion?   "On the ground Sleep sound; I 'll apply To your eye, Gentle lover,...

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This quote comes from Act III scene 2 and is when Puck applies the dew from the magic flower to the eyes of Lysander when he is asleep and near the sleeping Hermia. It identifies one of the key themes of the play which is the way that love is such a fickle and changeable emotion in humans, and is something that is rarely constant. The reversal of the affections of the Athenian lovers that is achieved through the magic flower highlights what Helena says in Act I scene 1 when she bemoans her state and reflects on how ardently Demetrius used to admire her before his affections became engaged with Hermia:

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.
Love doesn't look and see people as they really are, but is distorted by the mind and the imagination, and above all, emotions. This is why Bottom, when he has the head of the ass, is seen by Titania as being a figure of noble beauty. Love changed him to give him "form and dignity," just as Helena becomes desired by both Demetrius and Lysander having been viewed as not desirable. The key theme of the play is how ridiculous love makes us as humans appear: we swear constancy and express ardent admiration, only to in our next breath change the object of our affections entirely. Puck's magical actions only highlight our fickleness.

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