How does Shakespeare introduce the play’s key themes of love, comedy and magic? Section 1: Love In Act 1 scene 1, Shakespeare introduces the theme of love through his characters and the situations that he points them in. Scene 1 deals with many different types of love, including true love, unrequited and jealous love, royal love and false love. These different types of love are shown through the characterisation and the words they say. The characters who represent true love are Hermia and Lysander. Lysander tells Egeus that “I am belov’d of beauteous Hermia”, even though he knows that Egeus wants his daughter to marry Demetrius.
In these words he is open about his emotions for her. His first words to Hermia in the play are “How now my love? Why is your cheek so pale? How chance the roses there do fade so fast? ” He uses the actual words “my love”, and speaks to her gently, like he cares for her, noticing how she looks and how she has changed and worrying about her. Later he calls her “gentle Hermia” and tells her he has plans for them to marry. Hermia shows an equal love for Lysander. They are both focussed on each other. When Theseus tells her that if she will not marry Demetrius, she will have to spend her life in a nunnery, she says:
“So will I grow, so live, so die my Lord, Ere I will yield my virgin patent up Unto his Lordship”. This means that she is so deeply tied to Lysander that she will sacrifice herself rather than giving her body to another man. She is sensible about the trials of love, and takes it seriously when she says “let us teach our trial patience, because it is a customary cross, as due to love”. She is saying that love often does cause problems and she is willing to wait for him. When Hermia tells Lysander she will elope with him, she swears on various symbols of true love, like Cupid and Venus’s doves:
“I swear to thee, by Cupid’s strongest bow, By his best arrow with the golden head, By the simplicity of Venus’ doves. ” She is showing that her action will be driven by her love, by using symbols that everyone will understand. Despite the fact that Hermia and Lysander are truly in love, there are problems facing them, which leads on to characters who display unrequited and jealous love. Demetrius is obsessed and jealously in love with Hermia. He feels that it is his proper place to be with Hermia, but she does not love him at all.
He is jealous of Lysander because he has Hermia’s love. Demetrius says: “Relent sweet Hermia, and Lysander, yield Thy crazed title to my certain right. ” He is showing his love for Hermia by calling her “sweet”, and his jealousy is shown by saying that Lysander is crazed, and that he has a certain right to Hermia’s hand in marriage. In addition to this, the situation is further complicated by the fact that Helena is in love with Demetrius, but he does not love her. “Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so. ”
This means that she knows that she is valued as being as beautiful as Hermia, but this does not matter to her because she is only interested in Demetrius. Helena does not understand what quality she lacks. She has a conversation with Hermia, where she compares how Demetrius looks at both of them, and shows that she feels that her love is unrequited when she says “The more I love, the more he hateth me. ” Hermia comforts her by saying that it is not her fault and that she will be leaving Athens with Lysander. Another type of love is shown by Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
They are betrothed and will be getting married in four days. Their language is very stylised and formal. Theseus says to Hippolyta: “I woo’d thee with my sword, And won thy love, doing thee injuries: But I will wed thee in another key, With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling. ” He is not referring to any emotional love for her. He is talking in terms of winning a battle, and an alliance between their kingdoms. These lines describe the public show that will be made of their wedding, rather than the way they feel about each other.
He refers to their marriage as an “everlasting bond of fellowship” sealed between “my love and me”, which is formal but shows some fondness for her. Hippolyta says very little in this scene. She does not talk directly of her feelings for Theseus, but she talks about the moon being “like to a silver bow, new bent in heaven” which is a sign that she sees their marriage as a bright clean thing to look forward to. She is eager for the wedding, as she says that they will “quickly dream away the time. ” Dream is a loving sounding word. Lysander gets accused of false love by Egeus.
Egeus accuses Lysander of using magic to make Hermia fall in love with him. He says “scornful Lysander, he has my love”. This means that Lysander has his daughter Hermia although he thinks that Demetrius would be a more suitable husband. He thinks that in reality Hermia would never fall in love with a man like Lysander. He says “this man has bewitched the bosom of my child”, meaning that he has used magic to attract Hermia to him. “Thou, thou Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes, And interchang’d love-tokens with my child:” (he is saying that Lysander has given her love poems and gifts).
“Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung, With feigning voice, verses of feigning love,” (he is insisting that the songs and poems are false, not real love) “And stolen the impression of her fantasy, With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits, Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats (messengers Of strong prevailment in unharden’d youth)” (these are gifts which could be magic like the hair bracelets, or otherwise are things that would be very attractive to a young girl, and he doesn’t say that they steal his love, but just the impression of her fantasy).