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A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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Student Question

What is the significance of the word "tempest" in Hermia's line from Act 1, Scene 2?

Expert Answers

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In this scene, Hermia is pale because she has been told she must marry Demetrius or become a nun, when she is in love with and wants to marry Lysander. When Lysander asks her why the roses (color) have left her cheeks, she responds it's because she wants to cry: her tears, she says, are needed to water her cheeks. The word "tempest" is significant because it reveals that although she is dry-eyed, she is deeply upset and in intense inner turmoil: she doesn't just want to weep, she wants to cry violently and for a long time. Inside she is experiencing the kind of emotional upheaval characterized by a wild storm.  

The word tempest foreshadows or hints to us of Hermia's strong, tempestuous personality. She is a woman of deep emotion, who will follow her heart.

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