Analyze Hermia's soliloquy in A Midsummer Night's Dream (2.2.152–163, “Help me, Lysander, help me!”).

Hermia speaks her soliloquy in act 2, scene 2 of A Midsummer Night's Dream when she awakens alone in the glade. Lysander, affected by Puck's love potion, has chased after Helena, with whom he is now madly in love. Hermia is at first frightened from a prophetic dream about a serpent eating her heart, and then she is frightened because her beloved has disappeared. She vows to find him or to die trying.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Puck has made a horrible mistake. Oberon has told him to put love potion on the eyelids of a young Athenian man who is pursued by a young lady, but Puck anoints the wrong man! Instead of putting the love potion on Demetrius to make him fall in love with Helena, he puts it in Lysander when he finds Lysander and Hermia asleep in the glade. When Lysander wakes up, the first person he sees is Helena, and (thanks to the potion's action) he falls desperately in love with her.

The problem is that Lysander and Hermia have been on their way to his aunt's house to get married. Now, Lysander goes chasing off after Helena, leaving the sleeping Hermia to awaken by herself in the glade. Hermia finds herself alone and pronounces the soliloquy in lines 152–163.

Hermia seems to have been having a horrible dream, for she cries to Lysander for help. There is a “crawling serpent” on her breast, she says, as she describes her fear. She is trembling, for she has dreamed that a serpent was eating her heart while Lysander merely watched with a smile. Hermia's heart will soon break, for her beloved has left her for another woman.

Hermia calls out to Lysander, but he is nowhere to be found. She does not understand, and she asks him where he is, thinking perhaps that he has merely stepped out of sight for a moment. She then begs him to speak, but of course, there is only silence. She is ready to faint with fear, but then she vows to go after Lysander and find her beloved or die trying. She does not understand what has happened, but she will follow Lysander to the ends of the earth if she needs to.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial