In A Midsummer Night's Dream, what is the impression of Hermia and Helena beginning of the play?from their speeches and actions in Athens

Expert Answers
robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hermia comes up first. And she has some real guts to, when she's practically on trial and threatened with death anyway, to openly suggest in front of the Duke that she might actually refuse to wed Demetrius:

I know not by what power I am made bold,
Nor how it may concern my modesty,
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;
But I beseech your Grace that I may know
The worst that may befall me in this case,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

She's feisty and strong, and able to match Lysander word for word. And even though he's the one who comes up with the ideas, she's the one who actually talks about how their relationship will be improved. She's also the one who takes the liberty of telling Helena all about the secret plans.

For Helena, she starts of seeming incredibly self-pitying and a bit pathetic: wanting to somehow copy Hermia's beauty.

Call you me fair? That fair again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair...
Sickness is catching; O, were favor so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go!..
Sickness is catching; O, were favor so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go!

Yet she also, in the same scene, shows her manipulative side, deciding to use Hermia's secret to her own advantage with Demetrius:

I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight;
Then to the wood will he tomorrow night
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense.

As we see later, she ain't all that pathetic. Hope it helps!

chloebert | Student

they are both strong minded women which was common in shakespeares plays he allways puts one or two in. they are both deeply in love. hermia is very strong willed and doesnt want to be parted with lysander she thinks they belong together, she is comfortable with her looks which are not the conventional athenian look and loves that lysander sees behind her looks. helena is the oppersite, she is very uncomftable with her looks even though she is a beauty in an athenians eyes. but she does know her mind she knows she wants to be with demetrius although he treats her badly this is proved by the quote from helena in act 2 scene 1 " i am your spaniel; and, demetrius, the more you beat me, i will fawn on you: use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me, neglect me, lose me; only give me leave, unworthy as i am, to follow you, what worser place can i beg in your love,-- and yet a place of high respect with me,-- than to be used as your dog?"

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question