A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

215So, with two seeming bodies but one heart,
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one and crownèd with one crest.
And will you rent our ancient love asunder
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
220It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly.
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.
We seemed to have two separate bodies, but we had one heart. Do you want to destroy our old friendship by joining these men to insult your poor friend? It’s not friendly, and it’s not ladylike. All women would be angry with you for doing it, even though I’m the only one who’s hurt by it.

HERMIA

I am amazèd at your passionate words.
I scorn you not. It seems that you scorn me.

HERMIA

I’m completely dumbfounded by what you’re saying. I’m not insulting you. It sounds more like you’re insulting me.

HELENA

225Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,
To follow me and praise my eyes and face?
And made your other love, Demetrius—
Who even but now did spurn me with his foot—
To call me goddess, nymph, divine, and rare,
230Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this
To her he hates? And wherefore doth Lysander
Deny your love, so rich within his soul,
And tender me, forsooth, affection,
But by your setting on, by your consent?
235What though I be not so in grace as you—
So hung upon with love, so fortunate—
But miserable most, to love unloved?
This you should pity rather than despise.

HELENA

Come on, confess. Didn’t you send Lysander, as an insult, to follow me around praising my eyes and my face? Haven’t you made your other love, Demetrius—who kicked me with his foot not long ago—call me a goddess and a divine, rare, precious, heavenly creature? Why does he talk like that to a girl he can’t stand? And why does Lysander deny that he loves you, when he loves you so deeply? Why would he show me any affection, unless you told him to? Why does it matter that I’m not as lucky or lovable as you are and that the love I feel is unrequited? You should pity me for that reason, not hate me.

HERMIA

I understand not what you mean by this.

HERMIA

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

HELENA

240Ay, do. Persever, counterfeit sad looks,
Make mouths upon me when I turn my back,
Wink each at other, hold the sweet jest up—
This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.

HELENA

Oh, fine. All right, go ahead, keep up your little game, pretend to be sympathetic, but then nudge each other and wink and make faces at me when I turn my back. Keep up your wonderful game. You’re doing such a good job on this trick, someone should write a book about it.