Demetrius: Character Analysis in A Midsummer Night's Dream

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      Introduction. Demetrius is a young Athenian man who is in love with Hermia. He is the prospective groom who has been chosen by Egeus, Hermia's father for Hermia. However, Hermia loves Lysander. Therefore it can be said that Demetrius and Lysander are rivals in love. Demetrius gets to know about Lysander's plan of running away with Hermia. He follows them to the woods. Demetrius' stubborn love for Hermia initially is responsible for the unbalancing of the love plot between the four people: Flermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena.

      An inconsistent lover. Even though Demetrius has been chosen as the worthier husband for Hermia by her father, Egeus, it is difficult to ascertain his character as a positive one. Unlike Lysander, he has been an insincere and inconsistent lover. Initially he was in love with Helena and even wooed her. Later like a young, immature boy he fell out of love and abandoned Helena. He fell in love with Hermia and as he also had the support of Egeus, Hermia's father, he became more confident and stubborn in the pursuit of his love for Hermia. Hermia too, only has anger and irritability towards Lysander. When Egeus complains about his daughter to the Duke of Athens, Theseus, Lysander is forced to defend himself. One of the chief reasons which Lysander uses directly against Demetrius is that Demetrius is an inconsistent lover and moves from one woman to another without pledging his allegiance or loyalty towards any one woman. This claim is not entirely untrue and tilts the balance in Lysander's favor. The reader's support also starts tilting towards Lysander and against Demetrius. However, Demetrius does not step back in wooing Hermia. He feels that he has the most natural claim to Hermia and therefore pursues her relentlessly without any fail. He even follows her to the woods to woo her and turn her against Lysander. He is even ready to kill Lysander to win Hermia's love.

      Attitude towards Helena. Demetrius attitude towards Helena is representative of Demetrius' character traits in general. Demetrius is in love with Helena as is recalled by Lysander in the beginning of the play. His act of deserting Helena after she has also fallen in love with him shows us that Demetrius is a loathsome and roguish character. Later in the play; Helena gets to know that Hermia will run away from Athens with Lysander. Helena reveals this to Demetrius so that she is able to invoke some love in his heart for her. While Demetrius is extremely furious towards Hermia and Lysander, he does not soften at all for Helena. He is arrogant towards her when she follows him in the woods. He threatens to physically harm her when she does not stop following him. This entire episode tells us that Demetrius is not at all gentlemanly in nature and treats Helena in the most despicable way imaginable. Eventually; staying true to his character, he abandons Helena in the woods as well to be devoured up by 'wild beasts'. He does not entertain Helena at all and proclaims that he feels sick when he looks at her. Therefore Helena does everything in her power to win his love, not only does Demetrius reject her but does so in a very haughty and audacious manner. The king of fairies, Oberon observes Demetrius' behavior towards Helena and orders his attendant Puck to squeeze the juice of a magical flower on his eyes so that he falls irrevocably in love with Helena. Puck obeys Oberon's command and Demetrius falls in love with Helena. His attitude towards her changes completely and he refers to her as a water goddess and a symbol of divinity. He also asks Lysander to be content with his Hermia and says that his true love is Helena. Till the end of the play, Demetrius is in love with Helena, thereby equalizing the love relationship. Finally, Demetrius gets married to Helena and is also blessed by the fairies.

      Conclusion. To conclude, it can be said that Demetrius is a haughty and prickly character. It must, however be kept in mind that the character of Demetrius undergoes a radical transformation in the course of the play. From a haughty fellow, we see that he becomes a loyal lover and showers his affection on Helena. Critics argue that this change is because of a magic potion and therefore we must not see it as Demetrius' real personality. But what is more significant is the change at the end and not the means to that end. The end here is his loyal love for Helena which eventually makes them a happy couple.

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