In Shakespeare’s comedy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ a young couple named Lysander and Hermia escape through a magical wood in order to elope. Unfortunately, they are caught up in a case of misplaced identities before all gets sorted out in the end. In this lesson, we take a closer look at Lysander.
Lysander is a young man who falls in love with a beautiful woman named Hermia in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Hermia’s father, Egeus, has another young man named Demetrius in mind for his daughter. When Hermia expresses a desire to marry Lysander instead of Demetrius, Egeus is furious. He takes the case to Duke Theseus. The law of the land is not on Lysander’s side; a young woman has to obey her father. Duke Theseus gives Hermia three choices: marry Demetrius, become a nun, or die.
Lysander Makes His Case
Lysander is a regular guy. He tries to convince Egeus to allow him to marry Hermia. He even points out that Demetrius is not to be trusted, as he had won the heart of another woman, Hermia’s friend Helena, and then dumped her. Lysander makes his case by saying:I am, my lord, as well derived as he, ( or, ‘I am just as good of a choice as Demetrius.’)As well possess’d; my love is more than his; ( or, ‘I love Hermia more than he does.
‘)My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d, (or, ‘I have as much money as he does.’)If not with vantage, as Demetrius’; (or, ‘I am even a little better off than he is.’)And, which is more than all these boasts can be, (‘And even more . . .’)I am beloved of beauteous Hermia: (or, ‘Hermia loves me.
‘)Why should not I then prosecute my right? (or, ‘why shouldn’t I fight for her hand in marriage?’)Demetrius, I’ll avouch it to his head, (or, ‘Demetrius, I swear . . .’)Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena, (‘he flirted with Nedar’s daughter, Helena.’)And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes, (‘and won her love. She is deeply in love with him.
‘)Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry, (or, ‘she loves him so much, it’s like Demetrius is her idol.’)Upon this spotted and inconstant man. (‘but he obviously dumped her for Hermia. He is faithless.’)
Into the Woods
Lysander and Hermia decide to elope, meeting in a nearby wood.
They confide in Helena, who tells Demetrius, thinking he will be so appreciative that he will decide to love her. Obviously, Helena had a few things to learn about love! It’s a good thing the fairies were on her side.Speaking of fairies, King Oberon overhears Demetrius being rude to Helena, so he tells Puck to drip a love potion in his eyes so that he will fall in love with the first person he sees, assuming it will be Helena.
Puck sees Lysander asleep under a tree and drips the love potion in his eyes instead of Demetrius’s. Then, he tries to make up for his mistake by doing the same for Demetrius, but both men see Helena when they awaken and are in love with her. Poor Hermia! Here she is eloping with the man she loves, and he seems to be in love with her best friend. In the end, Puck makes things right, and the right couples get together. Also, Hermia’s father accepts Lysander as his son-in-law.
Likable Lysander did get things sorted out in the end, when Puck ‘restore(d) amends.’ We can admire Lysander for persevering through a difficult situation. Although he is a flat character, not changing much throughout the story, he provides an important catalyst for getting the two couples into the woods. There the magic began.