A Midsummer Night's Dream: 4 Types of Love

Already in act 1 scene 1 of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' we can recognise 4 different types of love. This way Shakespeare has created a lot of potential for the rest of the story, and introduces the reader to the wide range of love. The first type of love we are introduced to is domineering love, from Theseus. Later on we come to the conclusion domineering love can be find in Egeus, Hermia's father, as well.

Theseus has domineering love for Hippolyta, his fiancée. Theseus is a good , compassionate man, but he is also a man who likes to fight. Not only in war, but as well over controlling all situations coming across. He's the duke of ancient Athens, so has the habit to be looked up against. He expects everybody to listen to him, including Hippolyta. Theseus once said to her; 'I woo'd thee with my sword'. With this, he means that he 'won' her love, she 'surrendered' to him, and therefore must deal with the consequences of having a domineering husband. Of course not everyone would be able to live with this, but it seems Hippolyta can handle it. She has, here comes love # 2, obedient love. She's being forced to do certain actions, and seems to be all right with that. She doesn't say a lot in the story, which probably indicates that she's a very timid character and accepts whatever comes across her path.

Hermia, another receiver of domineering love, is not like Hippolyta at all. Her father Egeus said once; 'As she is mine, I may dispose of her.', which means he shall do with her as he likes. Hippolyta would probably be rather scared by this, considering she's so obedient, she'll do whatever her father, or fiancé, tells her to do. The thought of being killed for disobeying someone will terrify her, but not Hermia. Hermia is determined to marry Lysander, for whom she has passionate love. She ignores her father's wish, to have Demetrius as his son-in-law, and is prepared to go 'all the way' with Lysander. This indicates that Hermia is a very compassionate young woman who's willing to die, as long as it's as Lysander's lover. In those days she was probably, only for having her own, strong will, considered to be discourteous. However, she 'does' care about the situation. This can be seen in the quote' I would my father look'd but my eyes'. This shows she fairly disposes the situation she's in, and wished her father would be more understanding towards her. She knows Lysander is a good man, probably just as wealthy and well-respected in society as is Demetrius. Then why can't her father approve of Lysander? She finds Egeus selfish, and cannot bring herself to look through his eyes instead of the other way around.

Lysander is just as passionately in love with Hermia as she is with him. He's willing to fight for her, and do as much as he can to be allowed to marry his true love. He's not very fond of the situation either, obviously, but he does not give up. He says; 'the course of love never did run smooth'. With this, he refers to other Shakespeare plays, such as Romeo & Juliet, whom also coped with disapproval of their relationship by relatives. The quote is not just a reference, though. When you read it again you'll discover that it means Lysander doesn't care about Egeus's wishes, he wants to let Hermia know that no matter what happens they'll be together. They'll do everything to be together, even if it includes eloping. Lysander is a strong young man, who according to my opinion suits Hermia a lot better than Demetrius, who doesn't truly love Hermia anyway.

Demetrius is another victim of obedient love. He doesn't say a lot either, just like Hippolyta. He's 'all right' with marrying Hermia, but not thrilled about it. His love is more like a superficial love, not genuine. He's expected to marry Hermia, and so he'll do it. By saying 'Relent, my sweet love.', to Hermia we can see that she's tiring him with all those arguments about marrying Lysander. He's willing to do as he is expected to do, and thinks life would be much easier as Hermia would do so too. However, he hasn't been the ideal son-in-law either lately, since we learn that he has slept with Hermia's best friend Helena. We learn this from Lysander, as he's trying to show he's a better man than Demetrius. He says; 'Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head, made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena. And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes, devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry, upon this spotted and inconstant man.'.

The quote also tells us, as little as the 'one-night stand' meant to Demetrius, as much it did to Helena. She seems to have fallen madly in love with him. She sends him love letters, and is even willing to lose her life-lasting friendship with Hermia in order to be able to be in love with him! She wants Hermia to inquire her about Demetrius, so she will know how to win his love. Hermia has told Helena about her and Lysander's plan to elope and marry in secret, and that may very well have been a very bad decision, since Helena is not very trustworthy while suffering from obsessive love. She's planning on telling Demetrius about his fiancées plan, and hopes to gain his appreciation for it. She says 'If I have thinks, it is a dear expense; but herein mean I to enrich my pain, to have his sight thither and back again.'' By saying that, she means that if Demetrius will thank her, ( show appreciation, as I wrote earlier), she will do it. She's so obsessed that she's willing to give up her friendship for one positive word from her obsession. She hopes, of course, that she won't only get a word of thanks, but also Demetrius's love. She hopes she'll show that she's very determined to win his love and won't give up until she has it.

In act 1 of scene 1, Shakespeare has already inquired us about the widespread range of love there is, and I'm rather curious to find out about even more than those 4 types . Love has always been a great and inspiring theme to write about, but Shakespeare has done it more intense and detailed than anyone has, according to me.


Léonie Groeneveld Tv3a English 20-03-2006