Hermia and Lysander have a love that is true but very complicated. So when Hermia is faced with an impossible choice, she decides to run away. But you can't run away from your problems, and her troubles follow her into the woods. Find out more about their relationship in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.'
Trouble in Paradise
Have you ever wanted someone so bad, you were willing to die for them? That's the dilemma the female lead Hermia faces at the start of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Hermia is forbidden her love with Lysander and told her options are marry a man she detests, give up men forever, or die...so she decides to take matters into her own hands to ensure she ends up with the man she loves.
Athenian law is very clear on one point. A father has the right to choose for his children, and Egeus claims that right of his rebellious daughter, Hermia. He demands that she marry Demetrius. The problem is that Hermia is in love, but not with Demetrius. She loves Lysander. When Hermia is given the choice of marriage to Demetrius, life without men, or death, she picks none of the above. Instead, she and Lysander hatch a plan to elope and be free of Athenian law and free to be with each other.
Lysander and Hermia in the Forest
The trouble comes when Hermia tells her plan to her friend, Helena. Helena loves Demetrius, so she tells him of Hermia and Lysander's idea to run away, and Demetrius follows them. Then, Helena follows Demetrius into the woods outside Athens, which is the realm of the trickster Puck and his master, the King of the fairies, Oberon.
Observing a scene between Helena and Demetrius where she professes her love and he scorns it, Oberon tells Puck that they should fix the problem. So he orders Puck to put the drops of a magical flower into Demetrius's eyes so he will love Helena. But Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, and suddenly Lysander is scorning Hermia and declaring his love for Helena.
Hermia is heartbroken. And while it eventually becomes clear that there has been a mishap, and Oberon orders Puck to fix it, Lysander does say some very hurtful things to Hermia before the spell is lifted.
Lysander & Hermia Together
Upon the reversal of the magic (for Lysander, at least), the Duke Theseus comes into the forest and sees the pairs of lovers. Demetrius declares that he loves Helena now, and Theseus overrules Egeus and says Lysander and Hermia can marry. So Hermia and Lysander get married in a triple ceremony with Helena and Demetrius and the Duke and his lady, Hippolyta. The play ends with the fairies blessing their marriage beds. So, at least for Lysander and Hermia, A Midsummer Night's Dream has a wonderful, happy ending. They, we can really hope, will truly live happily ever after.
As you might guess from its plot, A Midsummer Night's Dream is filled with quotes about love. Let's look at a few:
''Before the time I did Lysander see
Seem'd Athens as a paradise to me.
O, then, what graces in my love do dwell
That he hath turn'd a heaven unto a hell!''
Hermia had always loved her home and trusted in her father, but once she fell in love with Lysander, the law in Athens turned her heart against her homeland. She cannot conceive of a life without Lysander, and so chooses to lose her home.
''The course of true love never did run smooth.''
Lysander says this while he is lamenting on the fact that he and Hermia truly love each other. The irony is that they cannot be together without breaking the law.
''Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! Vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.''
Lysander, spelled into believing he loves Helena, says some awful things to his wife-to-be, Hermia. This quote shows how easily magic turned Lysander's love into hate.
Hermia and Lysander have the closest thing to true love in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. They each love the other without being spelled or forced into it. However, their love is not without complications. Her father claims the ancient right of Athenian Law, which says that he may choose whom Hermia marries. When she refuses her father's choice, she's left with three bad options: marry someone she hates, give up men forever, or die.
Hermia chooses instead to run away into the woods with Lysander. There, all kinds of mischief befalls them, but in the end, they do get to be together. The play ends just the way Hermia and Lysander would want, with them being restored to society in Athens and allowed to get married.