How does the relationship between Hermia and Lysander impact Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?  

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Everything in A Midsummer Night's Dream hinges on the relationship of Hermia and Lysander. Without them, there would only be a partial play. These two are star crossed lovers feel they are burdened by Fate for not being able to marry. When Hermia is told by her father and Duke Theseus that she must marry Demetrius, be executed, or go to a convent, she cannot be consoled. She is without hope until Lysander tells her the following:

"Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,

Could ever hear by tale or history,

The course of true love never did run smooth" (I.i.134-136).

Basically, he is saying that all of the stories he's read show that true love never runs smoothly or according to plan. Hermia responds by saying:

"If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,

It stands as an edict in destiny.

Then let us teach our trial patience,

Because it is a customary cross" (I.i.152-155).

Thus, Hermia and Lysander's love must be proven through trials and this is the foundation for the main conflict pertaining to the four young lovers. If these two had not fallen in love, the only person hurting in Athens would be Helena because Demetrius dumps her to marry Hermia. In an effort to help themselves and Helena, Hermia and Lysander choose to elope by first meeting in the woods. This causes a chain of events that lead all four of the them into the forest on Midsummer's Eve. Oberon, the king of magical fairies is there and discovers Helena and Demetrius fighting. He then sends his servant Puck to remedy their situation with some love potion from a rare flower. And the plot thickens as Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, and Lysander turns to loving Helena. Puck tries to fix his mistake but then both Demetrius and Lysander love Helena and no one loves Hermia. The girls fight over their men and chaos runs amok contributing to the fun of the comedy. It takes Puck finally fixing his mistakes again to solve the problem; but ultimately, if it weren't for Hermia and Lysander falling in love and eloping, the play would not have a plot and there would have been no story.  

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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