A midsummer night's dream (iii,2) - analysis

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Excerpt 6
Mess in the wood (III, 2, 137-305)

II) Fighting against love

As the couples have been completely reversed, the four lovers now react in a very surprising way; thus,even though Lysander was deeply in love with his “fair Hermia” and was very attentive to her a few hours before, he roughly rejects her when she “runs toward him”, calling her “Ethiop”, “Tartar”,“loathéd med’cine”, “hated potion”, “cat”, “burr”, “vile thing”… He even envisages “hurt[ing] her, strik[ing] her, kill[ing] her dead” so as to get rid of her. Hermia does not understand why her dearLysander “[is] grown so rude” (v. 262); she asks him if he is not “jest[ing]” and keeps on questioning him (as show her recurrent questions) or complaining (“O me” 282, “O, the gods forbid!” 276…). Then,she accuses Helena of having “stolen” (v. 284) Lysander’s heart; out of anger, she calls her friend “juggler”, “cankerblossom” and “thief of love” on verses 282 and 283.
On the contrary, Helena,who believes that the young men are making fun of her, suspects Hermia of being “part of this confederacy” (v. 192); she sees her as a traitor, as the expression “most ungrateful maid” (v. 195)indicates. That is why she blames her for having betrayed their long-standing friendship, and reminds her, in a long and poignant declamation, of all the things they have shared together. Thus, she usesmany terms referred to the lexis of union, such as “both” or “one” (which are repeated four times), “together”, “union”, “join”, etc.: she wants Hermia to feel guilty and remorseful. Moreover Helenastill bears a grudge against Hermia since Demetrius preferred the latter to her; her jealousy shows through her lines, notably when she declares on verses 232 and 233: “I be not so in grace like you, /So hung upon with love, so fortunate”. In a nutshell, it seems that the girls’ friendship, which was already weakened on account of their rivalry, is definitely over…
As a matter of fact,...
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