Exploring the Madness of Love

While reading A Midsummer’s Night Dream, it was interesting exploring the theme of madness because how it is depicted in this play strays from the traditional connotation of madness that Shakespeare’s play typically portrays. Madness in this play is portrayed in the decisions the character’s make out of love. Love is also something that tries to get manipulated but ends up causing more mayhem and ridiculous situations. Helena is a really good example in how love was used to create a sense of madness. In act one, Helena admits that loving Demetrius has in a way made her blind. She continues to love Demetrius despite him being in love with another woman and having personality traits that are as she stated “base and vile.” Because of her inability to let her love go for this man, she begins to become insecure which is seen when she talks to Hermia and basically asks her “what do you have that I don’t.” And to fight this insecurity of hers, she at one point tries to denounce Hermia’s beauty, someone she’s been friends with since childhood, by saying “Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. But what of that?” (1.1.232-243).  Love for Helena has created a sense of madness within herself.

Some examples of how love was manipulated would be Hermia’s dad trying to force her into marrying someone she doesn’t want to in act one and Oberon making Titania fall in love with a transformed Bottom. With Hermia’s father, his determination to marry Hermia off to the person he wanted lead make some unbelievable threats. He may have been doing it out of love for his daughter and wanting the best for her but when he asked Theseus to inflict the death penalty on her, it became a bit much. He became willing to sacrifice not only his daughter’s happiness but her life for loving someone other than who he wanted her to love. In Oberon’s cause, his manipulation of live created a literal mayhem. Having Titania fall in love with someone with a behind for a head is chaos within itself. It’s something that most people would not imagine encountering ever because of the sheer ridiculousness the scenario brings. It was intriguing and also comedic to see how Shakespeare used love to demonstrate madness internally with the characters, but also use it to create actual madness with the fairies for comedic purposes.

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