A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Romanticism and Realism
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare, love is viewed in different ways. Bottom proves to be quite accurate characterizing the four main lovers when he states, “O what fools these mortals be” (Act #, Scene #, Line #). While the four main characters believe in romanticism, Theseus is a strong supporter of realism.
Demetrius and Lysander both speak in figurative language and both are very handsome. Their love for Helena and Hernia deal mainly with physical attraction and flirtatious acts than love that captures body, mind, and soul. If any of the four characters posses anything of realistic love, it would be Hermia. She was willing to risk death in order to be with Lysander. This act of love goes beyond any other in this play, and demonstrates Hermia’s devotion to Lysander. “My good Lysander, I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow- Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line #).
Helena is one of the silliest characters in the play, and at times can be quite irritating. Demetrius shows no love for her, yet she persists in chasing him. “And even for that do I love you the more. I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius, the more you beat me, I will fawn on you” (Act 2, Scene 1, Line #). These characters are a true definition of lovesick. All of them appear to be in love with love, more so than in love with each other. They all frantically run about, each changing partners so often that one is never really sure of who loves whom. Each consumes themselves with what they consider to be real love to the point of losing touch completely with the real world. To them, love is a fairy tale that involves no reason. They all believe that falling in love involves nothing more than romantic speech and desire for each other.
Unlike the four main lovers, Theseus, Duke of Athens, believes that men should never be out of touch with the real world. In short, he views the four lovers’ story as nothing but an illusion concocted in their imaginations. The entire idea of being infatuated with one’s lover to the point of losing touch with the real world is ludicrous to him. At first, Theseus’ love for Hippolyta may be viewed as cold, but once one realizes Theseus’ realistic and noble character, it is obvious that he strongly desires his bride.