Hate me? Wherefore? O, what news, my love?
Am I not Hermia? Are you not Lysander?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you loved me; yet since night you left me.
Lysander and Hermia love each other, but Hermia’s best friend, Helena, loves Demetrius who loves Hermia. Since Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius, she and Lysander decided to run away together, and, somehow, they end up in the woods. The woods happen to be the realm of Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, who are currently fighting over a changeling. Some workmen, led by Bottom, are rehearsing a play in the woods for an upcoming wedding. Also, Robin a.k.a Puck is around somewhere, causing more mayhem with a love potion.
This play is supposed to be confusing, but it’s not. The characters, except for the four lovers, are so distinct that you won’t have any difficulty telling them apart. Bottom is kind of an idiot, while Robin a.k.a Puck is basically giggling like a hyena at all the mayhem he’s causing. See? Easy as pie to tell apart.
First of all, I kept wondering why Hermia loved Lysander so much. According to Lysander himself, he and Demetrius are equal in looks, wealth, and rank. On the surface, there’s practically no way to tell who’s Demetrius and who’s Lysander. The same can be said about Hermia and Helena. Why were Demetrius and Lysander so crazy about Hermia when Helena was just as pretty and nice?
It occurred to me, then, that Shakespeare is a genius by presenting Lysander and Demetrius/Hermia and Helena as eerily similar. That’s what love is all about. When you’re in love, that one person might look ordinary to everyone else in the world, but you notice little things about them that set them apart, that make special when compared to the other people in this planet. You notice the way his hair falls over his eyes, and the way he stands still when he’s thinking about something important. The furrowed brow. The unruly hair. You see every little detail, and it delights you.
There’s also a scene where, with the help of a love potion, Titania, the queen of the fairies, falls in love with Bottom after Robin turns him into an ass. She isn’t repulsed by the hairy ears and the large front teeth. She is fascinated by him, and compares his neigh to a nightingale’s song.
The Titania/Bottom subplot is a great metaphor. It basically screams that love is indeed blind. When we’re in love, we see the other person’s faults. It’s just that we choose to accept or ignore them. He keeps forgetting to put the cap back on the Colgate after he uses it? His clothes keep missing the laundry basket? Who cares? You’re in love. That’s basically it.
In this play, Shakespeare says, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” He was right. As human beings, we have pride, we makes mistakes, and we never fail to screw things up. But, hey, the screwed up love stories make the best ones.
Read this play for Shakespeare Reading Month hosted by A Literary Odyssey.