Explain how Lysander's statement, "the course of love never did run smooth" fits each of the four pairs of lovers. The four pairs are: Lysander and Hermia Lysander and Helena Demetrius and...

Explain how Lysander's statement, "the course of love never did run smooth" fits each of the four pairs of lovers.

The four pairs are:

Lysander and Hermia

Lysander and Helena

Demetrius and Hermia

Demetrius and Helena

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lysander and Hermia would like to marry at the beginning of the play, but Hermia's father insists she marry Demetrius. He is backed up by Theseus, who tells Hermia that under Athenian law she must marry the man of her father's choice. Lysander and Hermia run away, but their problems are compounded when Demetrius pursues Hermia into the forest, and Puck mistakenly puts a love potion into Lysander's eyes that make him fall in love with Helena.

Lysander falls in love with Helena, who has followed Demetrius into the forest, when Puck puts a love potion into Lysander's eyes. This creates a comic upheaval: Helena believes she is being mocked, Hermia becomes furious at Helena, and Lysander is ready to fight Demetrius over Helena, though events are righted before any lasting damage is done.

Demetrius is in love with Hermia at the beginning of the play but she is not in love with him, presenting a classic case of unrequited love. He works through her father to try to force a marriage: that strategy works out poorly when Lysander and Hermia run off together. 

Helena loves Demetrius at the beginning of the play, but he no longer loves her. When she follows him into the forest, he does everything he can to get rid of her, until the love potion causes him to change his mind.

By the end of the play the lovers are sorted out properly, but not until after many hijinks have ensued. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Really, all you have to do for this is to look for how all of these pairs of lovers have problems (most of which are caused by Oberon and Puck).  And the problems are all pretty similar.

  • Lysander loves Hermia, but can't marry her because she's promised to Demetrius.
  • After Puck uses the potion on Lysander, he loves Helena, but of course she doesn't love him.
  • Demetrius doesn't love Hermia or at least it doesn't seem that way.  He seems to really just want her because she doesn't want him.
  • Helena loves Demetrius.  He used to love her but seems to want Hermia now.

So the point simply is that most of these people are in love with someone (either for real or because of the potion) and can't have them.

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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