Hermia: Character Analysis in A Midsummer Night's Dream

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      Introduction. Hermia is in love with Lysander and continues to follow her love even when her father, Egeus disapproves it. He has chosen Demetrius for Hermia but Hermia does not budge from her position. She also agrees to be a part of Lysander's plan of running away from Athens without hesitation. She absolutely detests Demetrius and does not want to be in his company at all. She does not bow down to the wishes of her father, Egeus and the Duke of Athens, Theseus.

      A strong woman character. Hermia is an assertive and courageous woman. She is caught in a place, where not just people and situations have turned their tides against her but even the law is against her. The ancient Athenian law prevents her to get married to a man of her choice. Except Lysander, every person ranging from her own father to the most powerful and mighty of all, the ruler of Athens, Theseus is against her. Even in the midst of such untoward and conflicting situations, she holds her voice and vehemently declares that she would rather spend her life as a virgin than get married to Demetrius which would be like a violation of her nobility; chastity and spirituality. She is unfazed by the fact that both her father and Theseus consider Demetrius to be the worthier husband for her and upholds her decision of marrying Demetrius without giving any reason other than the fact that she loves him. She also says that she cannot accept the authority of Demetrius as a husband.

      Decisive Nature. It is also evident that Hermia is extremely decisive in nature and does not bat an eyelid before taking a decision which may not be socially appropriate or acceptable. Hermia takes two major decisions in the play. The first decision she takes is that she will marry Lysander. She is willing to face the consequences of this decision, whatever they may be. The second decision which Hermia takes is agreeing to run away from Athens with Lysander. This act is beyond imaginable, especially for a woman. The consequence of this running away would have had far worse consequences for Hermia. However, Hermia does not think about this at all and readily agrees to be a part of this plan. At one point, Hermia feels disillusioned with the situation and feels like giving up. It is then that Lysander explains that the course of love does not run smooth in this world. A couple in love will always face some or the other problem to accomplish a union of their hearts and souls. Hermia is quick to understand this and makes up her mind to fully support Lysander to pursue their endeavors in love. Hermia also vows by Cupid's strongest bow, the simplicity of Venus' doves and the fire which burnt the queen of Carthage that she will meet Lysander in the woods. These vows show that not only is Hermia extremely earnest but also very erudite and elegant in her speech. Oberon is a benevolent fairy and blesses the three married couples to lead a life of prosperity; happiness, health and wealth. However, a close reading and analysis of the play reveals that it is nearly impossible for the reader to generalize anything about Oberon's character. He seems nice to characters that he likes and is despicable towards characters who he detests. For instance, he is extremely wrathful towards Titania often calling her names and alleging infidelity on her part. Puck however is his favorite fairy and he treats him very gently often referring to him as 'my gentle Puck' or my sweet Puck'. During the end of the play, there is also an instance where he starts feeling pitiable towards Titania and wishes to reverse the action of the magical flower but only after his own work is done Hermia's friendship. We have understood that Hermia is a devoted lover. But we also see Hermia's character as a friend. She has been Helena's friend since childhood. Helena is upset and disappointed as Demetrius is in love with Hermia. She confesses this to Hermia who in turn is sensitive to her friend's concern. Hermia says that it is not her fault that Demetrius follows her. She also says that she is not in love with Demetrius at all. She is very caring towards Helena. She consoles her by confessing her plan to run away with Lysander and that soon she will be able to woo Demetrius. Even though Helena does not repay Hermia's favor as she tells about this plan to Demetrius, however Hermia is a good friend and also innocent as a person, as she believes in upholding her friendship even if it is at the cost of her getting caught in running away.

      Morality. Hermia has been shown to be a woman who upholds high morals. She is in love with Lysander and is willing to do anything to unite with him. She does not lay her eyes on any other man except Lysander and is extremely loyal towards her. Her fidelity towards Lysander does not waver even once, even though Demetrius is also on his knees trying to woo her in every way possible. She is willing to lead a difficult life with Lysander instead of choosing to be an escapist and lead an easier and probably happier life with Demetrius. She is willing to forsake everything that she has for the man that loves, that is Lysander.

      While in the woods when she is running away from Athens with Lysander, they plan to lie down on the ground and rest for a while. At this moment, Lysander wants to lie in physical proximity with Hermia. But since they are unmarried, she is hesitant in agreeing to Lysander's request. She forces him to lie at a distance. She asks this to be done in the name of honor, love and human modesty; "Such separation as may well be said, becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid, so far be distant."

      Thus it can be said that Hermia, in the play; upholds her high morals especially in situations which have a rich possibility of becoming intense.

      Aggressive nature. Hermia is usually responsive and listens to the other person's problems, stories and concerns well. However, there are also instances where we see a strain of aggression in Hermia's personality. While in the woods, Demetrius and Lysander, under the effect of the magic potion, start wooing Helena, she becomes extremely angry and even threatens to physically hit Helena. She also is insecure about her short stature and dark complexion which she feels is the reason why both Lysander and Demetrius choose to abandon her.

      Conclusion. All things considered, it can be said that Hermia's character is a round character. We see shades of honesty, sincerity, morality and even aggression in her character. She comes across as the most human character. She stands for the upholding of various values like love, friendship and morality. But she also has hints of an aggressive, violent nature along with insecurity which only symbolizes that she is a round character with shades of both positive and negative qualities.

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