Hermia

Shakespeare Relationship Stats- Hermia and Lysander

Our next installment of the Shakespeare Relationship Stats series belongs to Hermia and Lysander from A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

Occupation

Lysander: star-crossed lover
Hermia:  rebellious daughter

Family status
Lysander: young nobleman
Hermia: daughter of Egeus

Reputation
Lysander: “I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
As well possess’d; my love is more than his;
My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d,
If not with vantage, as Demetrius’;
And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
I am beloved of beauteous Hermia:
Why should not I then prosecute my right?” Lysander’s opinion, Act 1, Scene 1

Hermia: “Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue’s sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I’d give to be to you translated.
O, teach me how you look, and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.” Helena’s opinion, Act 1 Scene 1

What they wanted from this relationship

Lysander:
“A good persuasion: therefore, hear me, Hermia.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child:
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues;
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me then,
Steal forth thy father’s house to-morrow night;
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.” Act 1, Scene 1

Hermia:
“My good Lysander!
I swear to thee, by Cupid’s strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,
By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
And by that fire which burn’d the Carthage queen,
When the false Troyan under sail was seen,
By all the vows that ever men have broke,
In number more than ever women spoke,
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.” Act 1, Scene 1

Top 3 bumps on the way to true love
1. Demetrius’s love for Hermia poses a problem when Egeus chooses him as suitor for Hermia, despite her wishes to marry Lysander.

2. In response to Hermia’s refusal to marry Demetrius, Egeus invokes an ancient Athenian law whereby a daughter must marry the suitor chosen by her father, or else face death.

3. Lysander, falling victim to a miscast love spell on the eve of his elopement to Hermia, falls in love with Helena when she wakes him.

Happily ever after
When the love spell is removed from Lysander, he declares his love for Hermia. As Demetrius loves Helena, Theseus overrules Egeus’ request to invoke the Athenian law, and arranges a group wedding!

Will it last?
Hermia’s love is withstanding, even when she believes Lysander has fallen for Helena. Once the spell is removed from Lysander, he declares that he loves Hermia. As long as no other misdirected love spells are cast, I think this one will continue to be happily ever after.

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Wordy Wednesday – “Primrose path”

primrose

In Hamlet, Laertes, leaving for France, tells his sister Ophelia to guard her heart against Hamlet.   Laertes suggests that Hamlet’s affections are “Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, / The perfume and suppliance of a minute; no more.”

OPHELIA

I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whiles, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.

The primrose is a flowering plant of over 400 species, bearing blue, pink, purple, red, white, or yellow blossoms.

Here, Shakespeare’s “primrose path” is the path of ease, indulgence, and pleasure.  Ophelia not only listens to Laertes, but also challenges him to heed his own advice.  Primroses are perennial though, in this context, they represent fickleness – perhaps “perennial” frivolity?

There are six more references to primroses in Shakespeare’s plays:

Cymbeline

QUEEN

So, so: well done, well done:
The violets, cowslips, and the primroses,
Bear to my closet.

ARVIRAGUS

Whilst summer lasts and I live here, Fidele,
I’ll sweeten thy sad grave: thou shalt not lack
The flower that’s like thy face, pale primrose

Henry VI, Part II

QUEEN MARGARET

I would be blind with weeping, sick with groans,
Look pale as primrose with blood-drinking sighs,
And all to have the noble duke alive.

Macbeth

PORTER

I’ll devil-porter
it no further: I had thought to have let in
some of all professions that go the primrose
way to the everlasting bonfire.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

HERMIA

And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
There my Lysander and myself shall meet…

The Winter’s Tale

PERDITA

…pale primroses
That die unmarried, ere they can behold
Bight Phoebus in his strength…

By Vineeta Moraes and Laboni Islam

Sources

“Primrose.”  Encyclopedia Britannica
Image:  Sloat Garden Center