Lysander: Character Analysis in A Midsummer Night's Dream

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      Introduction. Lysander is a young man from Athens who is in love with Hermia. However, Hermia's father, Egeus does not approve of this relationship. Egeus has chosen Demetrius as Hermia's prospective husband. This creates a lot of difficult situations for Lysander in the course of the play. Egeus complains about this to the Duke of Athens, Theseus. He also seeks to invoke the ancient "Athenian Law" which does not allow a woman to marry without the permission of her father. To avoid this hassle, Lysander hatches a plan to run away with Hermia to a village away from Athens to his aunt's place. The Athenian Law is obsolete there and they would be able to marry each other without any obstacles. They run away to the woods where they become a victim of misunderstandings which also becomes a source of merriment to the reader on the spectator.

      Lysander and Hermia. Lysander is introduced to us in the very first Act, the opening scene of the play. Egeus is complaining against him as he stands silently there. Egeus alleges that Lysander is a cunning man who has serenaded Hermia by singing songs of love to her, writing poems expressing his devotion and affection towards her. He also gives her fancy and foolish gifts to woo Hermia. Hermia is also in love with Lysander. He also claims that he should be the one who should get married to Hermia as he is worthier than Demetrius. Act I, Scene I is significant as it paints this entire episode beginning from Egeus’ vexation because of his daughter, Egeus complaining about it to Theseus and ending at Lysander comparing his love for Hermia with Demetrius' love for Hermia. He also says that Demetrius was earlier in love with a girl named, Helena. However, he proved to be an inconsistent and insincere lover as he abandoned Helena. For this reason, Lysander considers himself to be a worthier husband than Demetrius.

      Lysander in the woods. Lysander plans to stealthily flee away from Athens with Hermia. Hermia readily agrees to this plan without showing any strain of reluctance. He explains to Hermia that pursuing the course of love is not an easy task. He asserts that some kind of inequality is bound to creep in between two lovers. This inequality can be in the case of physical appearance or social status. Act I, Scene I is important from this vantage point that it highlights the hatching of this plan. He tells Hermia that his widowed aunt lives some distance away from Athens. He suggested that he could marry Hermia at his aunt's place as that place does not come under the jurisdiction of the Athenian law. He also suggests that Hermia should meet him in the woods on the following night. Hermia is devotedly in love with Lysander and does not bat an eyelid in agreeing to this plan. Hermia and Lysander also foolishly disclose their plan to Helena. Lysander is bewitched with Hermia and poetically declares that when the moon beholds her silver image in the dewdrops which look like pearls, he and Hermia would stealthily run away from Athens.

      A sincere lover towards Hermia. Beginning from the first scene in the first Act, Lysander's character has been portrayed as a sincere and devoted lover towards Hermia. This shade of his character has been most prominently painted in the play. We see him as a young man who is charged with love and has eyes only for Hermia. He is poetic in his expression towards his love for her in many instances. When they are both in the woods, Lysander wants to sleep close to Hermia on the ground as they are completely exhausted. Hermia is also in love with Lysander but she is more mindful of a certain social decorum. She insists that they must not lie very close to each other. Lysander is taken aback by this and says that Hermia must not misunderstand his intentions and that his wish of wanting to lie next to her is innocent. He is like a lunatic who leaves no stone unturned to express his love in a poetic way. He says that Hermia and he have different bodies but they are united by their hearts and souls, they have two bosoms and a single troth. He desperately wants to lie next to Hermia and tries to convince Hermia for the same. However, when Hermia is adamant that she will sleep at a distance, Lysander agrees vowing for his loyalty and fidelity towards her.

      Lysandefs love for Helena. While in the woods, Puck squeezes the juice of a magical flower on his eyelids by mistake and he falls in love with another woman, Helena as a consequence of that. He loses all the love that he once had for Hermia and transposes that love to Helena. He is madly and deeply in love with Helena, to the extent that he is ready to kill Demetrius. He perceives Demetrius to be his enemy as Helena is in love with him. He wants to kill Demetrius as he is a rival to him. He is smitten with Helena's beauty and compares her radiance with the bright star, Venus, twinkling in the sky. He says, "Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear, as yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere." He compares Helena to a murderer as he feels that she has pierced through his heart with her looks. Lysander repents having loved Hermia and says that his time and energy would have been fruitfully utilized had he met Helena before. He compares his judgment to the process of ripening of a fruit. He says that he was immature in loving Hermia but now that his rational faculty had ripened, he chose Helena over Hermia asserting that Helena was a dove and Hermia was a raven. He also says that Helena's eyes are like a documentation of all the love stories in the world. Helena, who has faced rejection by Demetrius in the past, cannot believe that Lysander is in love with her and rejects his advances. She even accuses him of making fun of her and mocking her.

      Lysandefs union with Hermia. After Puck realizes his mistake; he nullifies the effect of the magical flower. Puck squeezes the juice of another flower on Lysander's eyes thereby restoring his love for Hermia. However this task is not easy for Puck to accomplish. He has to first lead Lysander and Demetrius for a duel. Puck keeps distracting and confusing them. They are tired and fall asleep. Puck seizes this opportunity and rubs the juice on Lysander's eyelids.

      Conclusion. In a larger chunk of the play; we see that Lysander is under the influence of the magical flower. Therefore his character cannot be judged for his infatuation with Hermia and then with Helena. However, one thing which remains constant is that Lysander remains a sincere and ardent lover. He is devotedly in love, first with Hermia and then with Helena. He does not lose his poetic expression of love and we see instances of this quality in expression of his love for both Helena and Hermia. He is also very perceptible and sensitive to his surroundings. When he is watching the play with the others, he comments on Quince's prologue that it is not just sufficient to speak but to speak well. All things considered, it will be safe to conclude that Lysander is a good and honest man but the one trait of personality which stands out is his ability to truly and passionately love.

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