What are some of Hermia's personality traits in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream ?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One of Hermia's personality traits is that she is very self-assertive; she is strong and very independently minded, lacking any fear of expressing her opinion. We see her demonstrate this trait in a couple of different places. First, she has enough gall to even assert her opinion before Duke Theseus. When Theseus argues in her father's favor that "Demetrius is a worthy gentleman," Hermia boldly retorts, "So is Lysander" (I.i.53, 54). Hermia's ability to defend her perspective in front of anyone who has as much authority as Duke Theseus proves that she is very self-assertive and independently minded. A second place where we see her demonstrate her assertiveness and independence is when she is alone in the woods with Lysander. When they lie down for the night, Hermia is very careful to be protective of her chastity and commands Lysander to lie farther away from her. When Lysander continues to insist, she argues:

Lie further off, in human modesty;
Such separation as may well be said
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid. (II.ii.58-60)

Hermia's ability to not be swayed or seduced by Lysander shows us that she is strong and independently minded enough to stand firm in her own beliefs. She is able to preserve what she perceives as virtuous.

A second character trait of Hermia's is that, of the two Athenian women, Hermia is more levelheaded. While Helena accuses Hermia of joining forces with both men in mocking her, Hermia does not join in on the accusations. When Helena begins insulting Hermia by referring to her short stature, Hermia does not join in on the insults. We see Helena insult Hermia when she refers to her as a "puppet," as we see in her line, "Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet you!" (III.ii.298). Critics have always understood the phrase "you puppet you" to be an insult directed at Hermia's height. She insults Hermia with another "short joke" in the line, "Because she is something lower than myself" (314). Because Hermia does not return accusation for accusation or insult for insult, it shows us that she is more levelheaded than Helena.

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