A Midsummer Night's Dream: Analysis Of Helena
The play A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare does not describe a main protagonist which the play somewhat revolves around. Although she may not seem like it, Helena has a role greater than what is displayed at first glance. Helena’s character may seem pathetic and cold-hearted due to her jealousy, but deep down her compassion touches the hearts of the readers and brings them tears and laughter. Helena’s role in the play highlights that of a protagonist. The play portrays her character’s progression through its timeline. Her character traits define the attention she is receiving because any choices she is making will have a great effect on the play in the future.
The play is portraying Helena’s character with jealousy and weakness. She eventually learns to accept herself which leads her to progress into a stronger character. Helena’s character growth gets noticed mostly throughout the end of the play, but starts revealing itself early on; “What wicked and dissembling glass of mine/Made me compare with Hermia’s sphery eyne?” (2.2.98-99). Helena compares herself to Hermia while wandering the woods looking for Demetrius, afterwards she asks herself why she is comparing herself to Hermia in the first place. She then stumbles across Lysander making her unable to complete her thought. Helena always compares herself to Hermia, the fact that she realizes what she is doing shows that her character development is expanding, this relates to her being the protagonist because she is changing for the better. Helena is thought of as a pushover. After awhile she simply has enough of being treated unfairly by Lysander and Demetrius which are confessing their love to her. She thinks that they are mocking her which makes her angry. “Never did mockers waste more idle breath” (3.2,168). Helena also thinks that Hermia is playing along and mocking her even though Hermia is truly jealous of Lysander’s love to her;” Lo, she is one of this confederacy!/Now I perceive they have conjoined all three/to fashion this false, in spite of me.”(3.2,192-194). This proves that Helena gets sick of being treated poorly and finally stands up for herself. This takes a great part in Helena’s protagonism because a protagonist usually learns a lesson about an event that happens to them. In this case is would be that she must stand for herself because no one else will. Helena’s protagonism develops as she accepts herself and stops letting her jealousy and love for Demetrius rule over her.
Isaac Newton once quoted “Every action will have an equal and opposite reaction.” This relates back to Helena’s protagonism because any action Helena makes, effects the rest of the characters and the play. This shows that the play somewhat revolves around her. An example of this would be how Helena tells Demetrius that Hermia and Lysander are planning to runaway. This action alone sets the play into place. “I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight;/Then to the woods he will tomorrow night/Pursue her;”(1.1,246-248). Helena thinks that by tell Demetrius their plans, he would see that it is hopeless to fawn over Hermia because she loves Lysander. This simple action creates a chain of reactions that leads to most of the conflicts that happen in the play due to Helena’s choice. This shows that any little action Helena makes will affect the whole play which relates to Helena being a protagonist because she has a huge role in the play. Helena decides to follow Demetrius into the woods which further complicates things because he is following Hermia due to love as well. Oberon observes Helena’s depressing state when Demetrius rejects her so he decides to use the love juice on him. “A sweet Athenian lady is in love/With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes;/ But do it when the next thing he espies/ May be the lady: thou shalt know the man/ By the Athenian garments he hath on.”(2.1,260-264). Helena following Demetrius into the woods is what causes Oberon to order Puck to apply the love juice to Demetrius’s eyes. Since all four lovers are in the woods, Puck confuses who Demetrius and Helena are, and applies the love juice to Lysander’s eyes. This leads to Lysander falling in love with Helena because she stumbles across him which is another event that Helena is responsible for. All the choices Helena makes; big or small, will have an effect on the play which will change the course of events happening in the play which relates back to her being the obvious choice as the protagonist because all the events that take place relate back to her.
All in all, Helena’s protagonism reveals itself throughout the play. Her traits and choices defines her as a protagonist. Be it from her character’s growth and development, her changing personality, as well as all the decisions and actions she makes which have a huge impact on the play. Most people will take Helena for granted, but the truth is that she has one, if not the most important role in the play. This makes her the best candidate to be the play’s protagonist.