One of the important elements of a story, a literary piece, or a play in this case is conflict. Without conflict, it is as if we eat spaghetti without the sauce. A conflict is defined as the result of clashes between the characters or oneself on their principles. Several types of conflicts are known, but we are dealing on this paper about the internal and external conflicts.
In a conflict, it is not necessary that the two characters pull each other down directly. They might have conflicts with each other that they do not know, and it is for the readers to find or to determine the conflict if there are any. In short, it can be obvious or not.
In this paper we shall first establish the traits of the characters in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to give us ideas on how the conflicts came about. We will be dealing with internal and external conflicts among the characters, especially between Helena and Hermia.
The conflict in the story was actually a result of Hermia’s father spearheading the love life of his daughter. Her father was an obstacle to the love mutually felt by Lysander and Hermia. With this, other issues arose, betrayal of trust between friends, the ruining of father to daughter relationship, and the issue of the power of man over woman, especially the father to his daughter in making decisions in life. The context of the play is in the period of
Hermia is a female character in the play that is in conflict with her father. She seems to do everything that displeases him. She is described by the author to be a dark and tiny woman and Egeus’ daughter. This characteristic of her, being short, already brought her some insecurity in herself and to others.
Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius, the man that she did not like in any way. But then, her father made two options for her: to live with Demetrius, or to die: to live a life of a nun. In our days no woman will like to be in place of Hermia, being pushed to someone she didn’t love. Hermia didn’t seem to have confidence in her, that she always felt being mistreated because of the height and the “Height”, the height that is possessed by every human being that really hurt when stepped on – the self-esteem or the ego.
When this happened to her she almost didn’t see anymore her positive traits like her sparkling and lovely eyes, as what Helena had been admitting to herself. Hermia was in love with Lysander, but the situation didn’t permit her to express it towards him.
Helena was portrayed by Shakespeare as a woman living just in the shadow of someone else, the beautiful and cheerful Hermia. She is very sensitive, maybe her character being overpowered by the characteristics of Hermia. She had been compared to Hermia, always dealing with the height problem of Hermia, but actually he had a lot to be jealous of Hermia in terms of physical attraction. Here are the lines pertaining to this feeling of Helena, quoted directly from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
HELENA: How happy some o'er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know.
And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
The play showed an obvious conflict since Helena was in love with Demetrius. Although she has nothing to do with the love affair of Hermia, not really even admiring Demetrius, Egeus wanted her daughter to pursue him, giving the dilemma to Helena. In fact, Demetrius wanted Hermia. Isn’t it that Hermia should be proud of herself after all because two men are in-love with her, instead of being insecure? Egeus’ influence in her life made her out of direction.
Helena was expecting failure in herself because of the consequences made by Egeus, making Theseus believe that Hermia expressed love for his son. Hermia didn’t want this to happen. One line in the play from Helena said something like “the more I love him the more he hates me.” This showed that Helena almost had already given up in fighting for her man. She felt devastated. This feeling of her was even more magnified when she hoped for winning Demetrius upon telling that Lysander escaped with Hermia, as she expected that Demetrius will just let them and shift his feeling for her, but then Demetrius followed them with faith that he’s going to win back Hermia. Here came the turning point of this conflict.
An enchanted forest was introduced to the play, leading to an important event in the story. A Charm or enchantment was cast to both the lovers of Hermia, which led to both Lysander and Demetrius falling in love with Helena, as the two of them rose from a deep sleep as a result of the enchantment. The first person they saw as Helena, and the effect of the charm started. Nobody knew about what Puck the errant fairy did. This led to an unfriendly conversation with the best friends, Helena accusing Hermia to be fooling her around since both Lysander and Demetrius fell in love with her. But then they ended up with being two couples, both got what they wanted.
Here are the lines in the play which display the conflict between Hermia and Helena, formed after the enchantment of the two:
HELENA: Do not say so, Lysander; say not so/ What though he love your Hermia? Lord, what though? Yet Hermia still loves you: then be content.
HELENA: Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born? When at your hands did I deserve this scorn? Isn't not enough, is't not enough, young man, That I did never, no, nor never can, Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius' eye, But you must flout my insufficiency? Good troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do, In such disdainful manner me to woo. But fare you well: perforce I must confess I thought you lord of more true gentleness. O, that a lady, of one man refused. Should of another therefore be abused!
The lines here still displayed insecurity because of mentioning Helena’s insufficiency for Lysander to fall in love with her. In here Helena pitied herself but this was actually a consolation for her that the woman whom she’d been compared for so long was she able to defeat by accidentally and unknowingly making him fall for her.
The conflict went into equilibrium but actually nothing was settled. The conflict was not resolved between the two, but only with the help of the Puck that the love Demetrius remained for Helena after being enchanted by the Puck itself. Actually, there is really supposed to be no level of satisfaction on the part Helena when thinking if the true reason why Demetrius remained with her. Maybe Helena just took it as a false satisfaction. What if Puck did not do it to Demetrius? Will she be feeling the same way or would she still rather feel insecure of Hermia and live only at her shadow? Works Cited
“Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 3 May 2008. <http://documents.scribd.com/docs/1ktblbxhtq7l5m2v2oh8.pdf>