A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

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Explain how Lysander's statement "The course of true love never did run smooth" can be applied to the four Athenian lovers.

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Throughout the play, the love and romantic desires of the Athenian lovers are frustrated, at least until the end of act 4. At the beginning, Lysander and Hermia both love each other but cannot get married because Hermia's father Egeus has promised Hermia to Demetrius and does not approve of Lysander. Demetrius has Hermia's father's approval, but not her love. Helena loves Demetrius, who once loved her as well, but abandoned her when he met Hermia. So no one can have the person that they love, which suggests that indeed, the course of true love—that is, the path towards marriage and romantic happiness—is proving quite bumpy for all of them.

Oberon and Puck, of course, try to solve at least Helena and Demetrius's problems by making Demetrius love Helena using the magic plant. However, Puck makes Lysander fall in love with Helena, and then causes Demetrius to love Helena as well. So Helena is coping with two suitors, both of whom she does not believe really love her—she thinks they...

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