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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare
Summary

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

5) What causes the animosity between Hermia and Helena?

Hermia and Helena have enjoyed a close friendship since they were young, but recently their friendship has come under strain due to their entanglement in a knot of desire and jealousy. Before the play begins, Helena and Demetrius were in a loving relationship, as were Hermia and Lysander. Everything changed, however, when Demetrius turned his amorous gaze from Helena in order to pursue Hermia. Suddenly, Hermia had two suitors, and Helena had none. Helena is left feeling cast aside and unappealing. At the beginning of the play, she makes a big deal about her jealousy of Hermia, saying, “Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue’s sweet air / More tunable than lark to shepherd’s ear.” (I.i.)What starts out as mere jealousy becomes full-blown animosity by Act III. Lysander, charmed by fairy magic, abandons Hermia and pursues Helena instead. This reversal induces Hermia to rage and causes great torment for Helena. The friends’ heightened emotions cause them to argue spitefully and call each other cruel names. Although fairy mischief amplifies the animosity between Hermia and Helena, it’s important to emphasize that this animosity originated with Demetrius. Demetrius’s inconstancy drives a wedge between the two women.