Helena: Character Analysis in A Midsummer Night's Dream

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      Introduction. Helena, from the beginning of the play comes across as a pitiable and unfortunate character. She is in love with Demetrius who had actually wooed her sometime back. Once she fell in love with him, Demetrius deserted her and started following Hermia. This led to an intense heartbreak for Helena and she left no stone unturned to woo back Demetrius. However, Demetrius turned out to be stone-hearted person who was not willing to accept Helena back at any cost. This background makes Helena a pitiable character for the reader. During the play, under the influence of a magic potion, both Lysander and Demetrius fall in love with her. They start following and wooing her with lofty expressions of love. However such is Helena's condition and hopelessness that she cannot accept the fact that she is being wooed by two lovers. She feels that she is being mocked and ridiculed by both Lysander and Demetrius.

      Envy. In the play; this is the trait which is the most highlighted as far as Helena is concerned. She has been intimate friends with Hermia since their school days. However, it is unacceptable to her that Demetrius has fallen in love with her. Even when Hermia tells her that she detests Demetrius, Helena is not willing to listen to this and says that it is because of Hermia's beauty that both men have fallen in love with her. Helena does not hold Demetrius responsible for abandoning her even once. She also reveals Hermia's plan of running away from Athens to Demetrius. Helena does not think about her friend, while Hermia has entrusted her with this secret with the sole objective of consoling her.

      Her love for Demetrius. Hermia is passionately in love with Demetrius. Demetrius, though in love with her once upon a time, has now spurned her. This agitates Helena but she is persistent in pursuing her love and also determined to win Demetrius back. She reveals Hermiti's secret of running away from Athens with Lysander to Demetrius. She does this in the hope of winning Demetrius, love. When she does not succeed in doing this, she plans to follow Demetrius to the woods. In the act of following Demetrius, she relentlessly pursues him even after he has spurned her and also threatened to physically hit her and violate her chastity. She says that her chief purpose of following Demetrius' into the woods is to spend more time with him which will give her happiness. She also emphasizes that Demetrius is like a magnet that attracts her.

      Helena's union with Demetrius. Helena's condition is so pitiable that when the king of fairies, Oberon witnesses her interaction with Demetrius, he feels sorry for Helena. He orders his attendant, Puck to squeeze the juice of a magical flower on Demetrius' eyes in such a way that he sees Helena on waking up. This way Demetrius would fall in love with Helena. Puck is able to accomplish this task successfully making Demetrius fall in love with Helena. It is the intervention of the fairies through which Helena is finally able to unite with Demetrius.

      Physical characteristics. Helena is a tall and fair girl in direct contrast to Hermia who is dark in complexion and short. Going by the societal standards of beauty, we realize that Helena is more beautiful. However, Helena feels insecure about her beauty and feels that Hermia is more beautiful. She feels so because her love is not returned by Demetrius while Hermia's beauty is enough to enchant both Lysander and Demetrius.

      Conclusion. Helena is a major character in the play who is a passionate and persistent lover. She goes to extreme lengths to get Demetrius o love her back. She is also willing to forsake her childhood friendship with Hermia to win Demetrius' love. But Helena does not show any strong personality characteristics except the capacity to love. Like Hermia, she is also insecure about her own beauty and doubts it for the sole reason that her love is not returned by Demetrius. In the end, there is some sense of closure as Helena is able to finally unite with Demetrius.

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