In A Midsummer Night's Dream, what part of her appearance does Hermia believe Helena has exploited to win Lysander's love?

Expert Answers

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

Hermia completely misses the point the play makes that love is blind. Therefore, when she realizes Lysander has abandoned her and fallen in love with Helena, she grasps for a rational explanation (don't we all?). She decides Lysander must have fallen in love with Helena because she is taller. She shows the sudden loss of self-esteem Lysander's scorn has left her with by calling herself "dwarfish" and "low."

This is an example of dramatic irony, in which the audience knows what characters in a play do not. None of the four lovers—Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius—realize that the male's new love-besotted pursuit of Helena comes from a fairy love potion.

By this time, we as an audience understand that love is changeable, like the moon—and definitely does not make sense.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hermia and Helena are described as opposites of one another. They are both beautiful, but in different ways: Helena is seen as tall, thin, and fair of skin, and Hermia is seen as voluptuous and has darker hair. When Hermia discovers that her sweet Lysander has fallen in love with Helena, she believes that Helena has used her height to gain Lysander's affections:


‘Puppet!’ why so? Ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare(300)
Between our statures; she hath urged her height;
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail'd with him.
And are you grown so high in his esteem
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?(305)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

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