Free Midsummer Night's Dream Essays: Poem Analysis

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Boys Will Be Boys: The ‘Men’ of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Content with Hermia? No; I do repent

The tedious minutes I with her have spent.

Not Hermia but Helena I love:

Who will not change a raven for a dove?

The will of man is by his reason sway’d;

And reason says you are the worthier maid.”

-‘Lysander’, 2.2.117-122, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare (Folger Edition)

The above lines are said in poetry—something that points towards the speaker, Lysander, not being a commoner, but rather an educated individual of high social standing, who can speak in this sort of a refined manner. The verse is rhymed, which diminishes our estimation of how serious Lysander is while he speak-- perhaps he is disoriented by the sheer intensity
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The usage of the word ‘content’ is also interesting, considering how similar it sounds to the word ‘contempt’—a word that can probably be used to define Lysander’s tone in these lines. As the passage moves forward, however, the sharp plosive sounds are replaced with softer sounds of ‘h’ and ‘v’. The soft exhale that accompanies the ‘h’ sound makes it seem as if Lysander is sighing as he speaks, again making the reader think of him as a lovesick, dazed man. The repetition of the ‘v’ sound in the words ‘love’, ‘raven’ and ‘dove’ give a sense that the speaker is somewhat awestruck—there is an admiring, almost worshipping quality in the sound of these words. The ‘s’ sound is also prevalent in lines 2.2.121 and 2.2.122--“is”, “his” reason”, “sway’d”, “reason says”. The frequent use of a sibiliant in these lines not only softens the tone, but also gives an air of seduction. It seems as if by the end of the above passage, Lysander is attempting to seduce…show more content…
The lines are rhymed, and appear to have a ‘sing-song’ quality, a somewhat childishness or playfulness that can be attributed to them. Most of the lines are end-stopped, contributing to the rhythm—the exceptions being lines 2.2.73-75, and lines 2.2.80-81.
In line 2.2.73, which runs on till line 2.2.75, it seems as if Puck is agitated—probably by his failure at finding the Athenian he is looking for. There is also a restlessness, an impatience to use the magical flower in his possession, perhaps similar to the childish impatience to play with new toys. The second pair of run-on lines, however, seem to present something different. In lines 2.2.80 and 2.2.81, it seems as if Puck simply cannot restrain his outrage at the treatment of the lady who is asleep on the ground—a mature outrage, probably, and directly in contrast with the sense of childish impatience alluded to
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