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The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth

One of the most important aspects of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is love. The play contains all of the aspects that love consists of and this is represented in the constantly twisting plotline. Shakespeare seems to mock the idea of love and questions whether there really is such a thing. Throughout the play, we can see evidence of Shakespeare questioning the nature of love and how it is frequently changing, as he shows with the relationships that develop between Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius. At the start of the play, Lysander and Hermia are in love with each other, Helena is in love with Lysander and Demetrius is in love with Hermia. But as the play develops Lysander’s affections turn towards Helena as do Demetrius’s.

Shakespeare is showing us how easily people can change their minds about love. To emphasise this point further, when Lysander tells Helena he is in love with her she won’t believe him and thinks that he is making fun of her. The relationship between Oberon and Titania is another that experiences problems. Shakespeare shows how stubbornness and jealousy can also add to the problems in a relationship. These two argue over the ownership of an Indian child. We see Oberon’s stubbornness when Titania wants to leave to avoid a worse quarrel, “Thou shalt not from this grove, ‘Til I torment thee for this injury.”

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He orders her about and has power over her and even though he supposedly loves her he threatens to gain vengeance on her. Showing that even if people are truly in love they still argue and get angry with each other. In the first scene of the play, we see one of the obstacles of true love, parental approval. Hermia’s father, Egeus, has chosen Demetrius to marry her, even though she is in love with Lysander. The daughter had little said of her own and her father sees her as his property, “As she is mine, I may dispose of her” To this Hermia replies, “I would my father looked but with my eyes” Hermia is saying that she is glad that her father cares and that she values his opinion, but she wishes he could see things from her point of view.

Egeus consults Theseus, The Duke of Athens, over what to do about his daughter’s disobedience and he decides that if she won’t marry Demetrius then she will have to live in a convent. Getting parental permission was one of the classic tests of true love in those days and still is now. Another problem we see encountered in this play is people falling in love due to mistaken identities. People can be made to fall in love with the first person they see when a magic love juice that is found in a flower is applied to their eye. This is trying to show the idea that love is blind. This is represented in two different ways throughout the play. In one example Titania falls completely in love with Bottom who has the head of an ass, I think that this represents the way people try to kid themselves that someone is something they are not.

It is also shown in another sense when Helena falls in love with Demetrius, even though he treats her horribly. But as Titania and Bottom never were truly in love they break up, while Helena and Demetrius end up together as they were in fact in love with each other. Shakespeare is pointing out that, as in Helena and Demetrius’ case people still manage to love each other despite people’s faults. The course of true love provides many obstacles and dilemmas for the young lovers in the play. Hermia is young and inexperienced, while her father is older and wiser than she is, which is possibly why he gets so angry with her for disobeying him. Yet she still refuses to listen to other peoples advice and wants things her own way. Shakespeare is showing that the nature of love is for people to be selfish and obstinate.

Shakespeare also points out the part that jealousy plays in the course of love. This can happen between lovers, such as Oberon and Titania with the Indian boy, but also between friends. We see this come out between Helena and Hermia as Helena envies Hermia’s looks and Demetrius’ love for her, ” Demetrius loves your fair, your eyes are lode-stars.” This jealousy also leads to her losing any chance she might have had with Demetrius when she loses all of her self-respect and starts grovelling to him. This scenario between Helena and Hermia represents real-life situations where friends become jealous of each other. Helena is completely lacking any confidence in herself, which leads to her falling out with Hermia.

Shakespeare helps to give the audience an overview of the play by letting them see things happen that other characters in the play cannot see. The audience has the same view of the proceedings as the fairies as they also see everything that happens. By giving us this point of view of the play Shakespeare lets us see the true course of love unfold, accompanied by the constantly twisting plotline which symbolises the course of love in the way it keeps changing. It gives the impression that the members of the audience are also fairies. Although we see that the course of true love encounters many barriers and pitfalls, lovers will ultimately end up together if they are truly in love, as is shown with Oberon and Titania and Lysander and Hermia.

Shakespeare is showing that it can exist but it must endure hardships if it is going to stand the test of time.  Couples such as Titania and Bottom who are together entirely by the influence of “magic” will never last as they are not truly in love with each other. Throughout the play, we can see Shakespeare toy with the theme of love as he changes peoples idea of who they love very frequently. He shows the audience how what appears to be true love can be changed and manipulated. This changing of love shows us that the course of true love never does run smooth but when there is actually true love then love will prevail.

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The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth. (2021, Apr 08). Retrieved April 22, 2021, from