A Midsummer Night's Dream: Act 2, Scene 2 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: This scene is also set in the forests but in another part of it. We see that Titania's fairies are singing a lullaby to protect their queen from this dark, mystical forest which may potentially have creatures who may harm Titania. They leave her sleeping on the soft leaves, and Oberon is swift enough to seize this opportunity. He stealthily enters to put the magic drops on Titania's eyelids. The two lovers, Hermia and Lysander, tired and lost in the dense wood, decide to rest until morning. Hermia instructs Lysander to lie down at a distance because "Such separation as may well be said/Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid". Lysander keeps insisting to lie close to her but she does not agree and requests him to maintain a physical distance. Lysander finally agrees to Hermia's demands. As they sleep Puck arrives and naturally assumes that, since they are Athenian and sleeping apart from one another, they must be Demetrius and Helena. Thus Puck mistakenly squeezes the juice on Lysander's eyelids. Demetrius comes running through the forest pursued by Helena who cannot keep up with him. Demetrius leaves Helena behind and when Lysander wakes up, Helena is the first person he sees. The juice succeeds in its work; Lysander falls madly in love with Helena. She is offended by his advances and runs away but Lysander follows her, leaving the sleeping Hermia alone. When Hermia wakes up, terrified by a nightmare, she sees that Lysander has run away and sets off to find him.

      Critical Analysis: This scene is important because it unfolds the confusion which is now to follow. Puck has been introduced as a mischievous and spiteful fairy. He mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and squeezes the magical potion in his eyes. This makes both Lysander and later Demetrius also fall in love with Helena who feels that she is being mocked at. An atmosphere of confusion and negativity is created as Helena who was earlier hurt that Demetrius was not returning her love, is now irritated and angry She feels that Lysander, Demetrius and Hermia have now collaborated to make fun of her and scorn her.

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