Character and Theme Quotes
Essential Passage by Character: Helena
How happy some o'er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know.
And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath Love's mind of any judgment taste;
Wings and no eyes, figure unheedy haste;
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere;
For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia's eyne,
He hail'd down oaths that he was only mine;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolv'd, and showers of oaths did melt.
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.
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.
Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 232-257
Hermia and Lysander are in love, but their marriage does not receive the approval of Hermia’s father, Egeus. Instead, he wants her to marry Demetrius, who would be happy to do so, but Hermia is against this proposal. Egeus appeals to Theseus as ruler: if Hermia will not follow her father’s commands and marry Demetrius, she will be either condemned to a life of perpetual celibacy as a nun, or she shall be put to death.
To complicate matters further, Hermia’s best friend Helena is in love with Demetrius. The two had at one time been together, but Demetrius’s affection faded and has been transferred to Helena. He is thus very much in favor of Egeus’s plan, though he is the only one who is.
To avoid a death sentence or a life of celibacy, Hermia plans to elope with Lysander that evening, going through the forest to Lysander’s aunt where they hope to gain refuge. Hermia tells Helena about the plan. Helena is, of course, unhappy that Demetrius has rejected her and says that she will keep her friend’s secret. Hermia and Lysander wish Helena the best of luck with Demetrius.
Left alone, Helena delivers the above soliloquy on love. She bemoans the fact that some...
(The entire section is 1067 words.)
Essential Passage by Theme: Love
How now, my love! Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?
Belike for want of rain, which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But, either it was different in blood—
O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to low.
Or else misgraffed in respect of years—
O spite! too old to be engag'd to young.
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends—
O hell! to choose love by another's eyes.
Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness, did lay siege to it,
Making it momentany as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’
The jaws of darkness do devour it up;
So quick bright things come to confusion.
If then true lovers have ever cross'd,
It stands as an edict in destiny.
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross,
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,
Wishes and tears, poor fancy's followers.
Hermia is in love with Lysander, and her feelings are reciprocated. However, Hermia’s father Egeus has commanded Hermia to marry his choice for her husband, Demetrius. If she does not, then he will appeal to the Athenian law that states that she will either be put to death or exiled to a nunnery and live a life of celibacy. Pleading before Theseus, Egeus begs for his official approval. Lysander, speaking in his and Hermia’s defense, points out to the Athenian ruler that Demetrius had previously been attached to Helena. To force him to marry Hermia (though Demetrius is altogether willing) would break the young woman’s heart. Theseus says that he had heard of the attachment and was going to speak to Demetrius about it, but it had slipped his mind with cares of state. Theseus then tells Egeus and Demetrius that he wants a word with them in private. Before leaving, Theseus warns Hermia that she must comply with her father’s wishes, or else the laws of Athens will condemn her to death or celibacy. The others then depart, leaving Lysander and Hermia alone.
Lysander asks Hermia why she is so pale, to which Hermia replies that it might because of lack of rain, though she could remedy that with her own tears. Lysander begins to philosophize, stating the “the course of true love never did run smooth.” He...
(The entire section is 1279 words.)
Essential Passage by Theme: Reality
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
(The entire section is 1039 words.)