What is the basic emotional situation between Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena at the beginning of the play?

Expert Answers

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

At the beginning of Shakespeare's  A Midsummer Night's Dream, audiences meet Demetrius, Hermia, Lysander, and Helena, four characters who are tangled in a comic (and somewhat confusing) web of arranged, pure, and even unreturned love.  Demetrius has been chosen by Egeus to marry Egeus's daughter, Hermia, but Hermia is in love with Lysander, and he is in love with her.  Further, Helena, Hermia's childhood friend, is in love with Demetrius.  Because of Theseus's orders for Hermia to marry Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander decide to run away together.  Upon hearing this news, Helena, who also doesn't want this marriage to happen because she's in love with Demetrius.  She decides to tell him of Lysander's and Hermia's plan in the hopes that he will forget about Hermia and love her.  More confusion follows (involving spells and magic), and the result is Shakespeare's version of a comic examination of love. 

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