Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream essay
Topic~ “Reason and love keep little company together nowadays”. Explain how this quote relates to the play as a whole.
“And yet to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays” This quote from act 3, scene 1 in Shakespeare’s play A Midsummers Night Dream, seems so insignificant when Bottom, a simple and silly workman with the head of an ass, expresses this to Titania Queen of the Fairies. She has recklessly fallen in love with Bottom at first sight as a result of the love potion placed upon her by Oberon King of the Fairies. But this quote in fact is very significant as it relates to most of the characters relationships in this play. What this quote really means is that when in love people often don’t make wise decision using their head, instead they make irrational decisions based on feelings, not sense. This is shown is the play with the relationships of Lysander & Hermia, Helena & Demetrius and Thisbe & Pyramus.
Firstly, there is Lysander and Hermia. This quote reflects their relationship as Hermia’s Dad, Egeus, wants Hermia to marry Demetrius and despises Lysander (which is the man Hermia loves). “As she is mine, I may dispose of her: Which shall be to this gentlemen or to her death, according to our law immediately provided in that case” this is what Hermia’s Dad threatens. He basically gives her two choices; she either marries Demetrius thus ending her relationship with Lysander or is put to her death immediately and legally. This is where the quote “reason and love keep little company together nowadays” comes in, as Hermia and Lysander, being as madly in love as they are, don’t think about what is at stake and decide to run away to get married disobeying her fathers orders. This also counts for Lysander as he loves her so much he wont let her go even though he knows how much danger he is putting her in.
Secondly, there is Helena and Demetrius’s complex relationship. Helena is madly in love with Demetrius but he does not return this love. Instead, he loves Hermia, Helena’s best friend. Helena is so jealous that when she finds out that Hermia is going to run away with Lysander to get married she
sees the perfect opportunity to tell Demetrius of Hermia’s plans in hope that this will lead him to find that he is indeed in love with her instead of Hermia. “I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight: then to the wood will he, tomorrow night, pursue her: and for this intelligence, if I have thanks it is dear expense” What Helena is saying is that if she tells him about Hermia’s whereabouts he will see how much she has risked since she had betrayed Hermia and he will be grateful and he will finally see again that he is in love with her. But this is a very unreasonable thing to do as she is betraying her best friend who has been by her side and whom she has known all her life. She is also throwing it all away just to try and earn the love of Demetrius who doesn’t even love her which shows how irrational she has become and is not using her common sense at all.
Lastly, is the relationship of Thisbe and Pyramus. This relationship may be a fictional relationship in a play put on by the workmen but this relationship is possibly the most relatable to this quote. Pyramus and Thisbe are two ill-fated lovers who have been forbidden by their parents to wed. They arrange to meet near the Ninus tomb but Thisbe arrives first and sees a lion so she flees, leaving behind her veils. When Pyramus arrives he is horrified at the sight of Thisbe’s veil in the mouth of the lion. He irrationally believes that the fierce beast has killed her and doesn’t leave any time to figure anything out before he draws his sword and kills himself upon saying “Since lion vile hath deflower’d my dear? …Thus die I, thus, thus, thus! Now I am dead”. Pyramus’s heart had told him that he couldn’t have lived without her instead of using his common sense to actually do something about what had happened. After Pyramus had died Thisbe then returns and finds Pyramus lying under the tree dead. Thisbe too can’t imagine a life without Pyramus so she unreasonably kills herself with the same sword.
So as shown in Lysander & Hermia’s, Helena and Demetrius’s and Thisbe & Pyramus’s relationships this quote is not just the insignificant singular quote shown as it relates to all of the above relationships and is a recurring theme throughout the play. Love has made these characters behave in ways they wouldn’t normally behave or make decisions they wouldn’t usually make.