A Discussion About the Different Types of Loves in “A Midsummer Nights Dream”
If there is a common theme among Shakespearean stories, it is that oftrue love and its seemingly unending obstacles. From the death of the star crossed lovers in “Romeo and Juliet”, to the comedic ending of “A Midsummer Nights Dream”, it would seem that love, in all its forms and types, always shows us that “The course of true love never did run smooth” (Act 1, Scene 1, 143). It is important to realize that there are 4 types of love portrayed in this Shakespearean comedy. 3 of these love types are forced love, parental love, and romantic love. These sentiments will be discussed in this paper using the 3 types of love that can be found within the play.
Forced love is represented between Theseus and Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons in Act 1 of the play. Theseus in the play is a successful warrior who returns from battle to find that he has successfully courted Hippolyta through the use of force. He explains to the audience that:
Hippolyta, I wood thee with my sword,
And won thy love doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling. (Act 1, Scene 1, 2)
Theseus did not win her love through a normal courtship but rather through surrender. Hence the love that Hippolyta feels for him becomes forced instead of a naturally developing emotion. A naturally developing emotion is exactly how the next type of love displayed within the story can be defined. The story of Egeus and Hermia, a father and daughter, typically represents a parental kind of love which, in effect, is naturally developed.
Egeus comes across as the typical concencerned father who uses dictatorial methods of showing how much he loves his daughter Hermia. Most readers can identify their own parents in this story as Egeus represents how parents refuse to admit when they are wrong and have a need to constantly be right and all knowing regarding their childrens potential relationships. He refuses to let her marry Lysander because he believes that she will be better off with Demetrius. Something he bases on the fact that he knows Demetrius personally but not Lysander. When Egeus states that:
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke,
This man hath bewitchd the bosom of my child;
Thou, thou, Lysander, (Act 1, Scene 1, 2)
Egeus makes it very clear that he is not going to allow his daughter to marry someone based upon love. Instead, he chooses her mate for her based upon a parental idea of true love for his child, which normally stems from his familiarity of the man she is proposed to marry. He fails to consider that since his daughter will have to live with the man for the rest of her life, her idea of true, romantic love is what should prevail instead of his parental idea of true love for her.
That is what is running through Hermias thoughts as she considers a life with Lysander. Romantic love is what drives them to elope and stay together despite the problems their love faces. Not even having Lysander drink Oberons love juice changes their true love sentiment. Although, it weakens it for a moment:
Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent!
Why are you grown so rude? what change is this?
Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out!
Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence! ( Act 3, Scene 2, 12)
The above scene from the play thus leads us back to the discussion of the quote first mentioned at the top of this essay. “The course of true love never runs smooth” and, as far as William Shakespeare is concerned, is filled with doubts, trials, and unsure moments. However, the unpredictability of love is what makes one sure that somehow, these lovers were meant to be together.
Bevington, David. (2014). The necessary works of Shakespeare (4th ed.). London, England: Longman