Differences between Helena and Hermia in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream' by Shakespeare

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There are similarities and differences between the two persons of each kinship. As in several works of literature, there are antagonistic characters in Shakespeare's novel "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The protagonists Hermia and Helena are foils in the play because their similarities and differences highlight each other's qualities. Helena and Hermia are comparable in how they keep wandering off into the woods to find their significant ones, but unique in how they deal with conflict and self-esteem. The variations are illustrated in the following discussion.

The differences

Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!
Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue’s sweet air

More tunable than lark to shepherd’s ear

When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.

Sickness is catching. Oh, were favor 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…… (1.1. 181-189)

This entry depicts that Helena is shaky about her self-perception and in addition her identity. Helena conceives that Demetrius cherishes Hermia due to her magnificence which makes Helena believe that she is second rate compared to Hermia. Despite the fact that both Helena and Hermia are both known to have a similar delight; Helena gets herself uglier in light of the fact that she doesn't have the adoration for Demetrius. Helena's way to deal with her affection is weaker than that of Hermia's a result of her instability and a low self-regard. Helena needs Hermia's excellence to be an affliction that she can contract. Hermia's sweet strain, her lodestar eyes, and Hermia's general magnificence is the thing that Helena wishes and her weakness about herself. Subsequently, Hermia's way to deal with romance is more grounded in the view of the abnormal state of certainty she has, while Helena does not have that certainty as a result of her frailty about herself. In spite of the fact that Hermia and Helena are both willing to hazard their respect for intimate romance, Hermia is more grounded at her way to deal with adoration and romance, and Helena needs self-regard in view of the instability about herself. Hermia will risk her notoriety by fleeing with Lysander, while Helena will chance her notoriety by being separated from everyone else with Demetrius around evening time. With this association additionally comes a change, when Hermia demonstrates her certainty that Helena is will undoubtedly have. Hermia knows how to state no to something that may not appear to be on the whole correct to her. "Cherish looks not with the eyes, but rather with the brain/accordingly is wing'd Cupid painted visually impaired… ..." (1.1. 234-235). Helena's announcement that adoration is visually impaired and looks with the eyes delineates that she ways to deal with affection negligently. In this act by Shakespeare, Hermia and Helena have discovered their actual significant others yet are going through deterrents that obstruct them to be with their affections. Hermia who is infatuated with Lysander needs to conflict with the will of her Dad Eugeus, while Helena presently cannot seem to make her adoration that is Demetrius begin to look all starry eyed at her. The entire play bends around the beaus and the way these two female characters’ deal with affection and romance. In spite of the fact that these two significant characters are both willing to risk respect for intimate romance; in reality, Hermia is sure about her way to deal with romance while Helena needs to work on her self-esteem.

More so, amongst Helena and Hermia stands out on how they each manages strife, where Hermia is the furious type while Helena is a total poltroon. At a certain point in the act, Lysander was put under the adoration mixture by Robin. At the time when Lysander woke, Helena was the initial individual he set eyes on. Once Hermia discovered Lysander had eyes for Helena, she stored up a battle between her and Hermia. After a battle with Hermia, Helena depicts Hermia to Demetrius:



No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.


Oh, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd!

She was a vixen when she went to school.

And though she be but little, she is fierce.


“Little” again? Nothing but “low” and “little”! —

Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?

Let me come to her. …. … (3.2.340-343).

The two young ladies manage strife in some, unlike ways. Hermia manages strife physically and with hostility. Hermia runs over to Helena very impulsive and furious. On the contrary, Helena manages disagreements​ in a very unique and quiet way. After her huge battle with Hermia, she ponders internally: “I have no gift at all in Shrewishness / I am a right maid for my cowardice” (3.2.316-317). Hermia is forceful and wild, whereas Helena utilizes her words amid strife significantly more compared to Hermia. Despite the fact that Hermia and Helena can be comparable their contention styles are totally unique.

Another distinction amongst Hermia and Helena is their self-regard, Hermia is extremely certain about herself while then again Helena has no self-power. Hermia is extremely sure about everything; her appearance, her abilities, and basically anything she lays her hand on. To herself Hermia soliloquizes;

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What, can you do me greater harm than hate?

Hate me? Wherefore? O me! What news, my love?

Am not I Hermia? Are not you Lysander?

I am as fair now as I was erewhile.

Since night you loved me. Yet since night you left me.

Why then, you left me—Oh, the gods forbid! —

In earnest, shall I say?... … (3.2.280).

Since her self-esteem is very high, she freely states things about how lovely she is. Dissimilar to her, Helena's self-regard is quite low. At the time when Lysander mystically falls in cherish with Hermia, she assumes she is being ridiculed. To herself, she says: “I’m as Ugly as a bear” (2.2.100). Normally individuals find being cherished a delight always never think twice about it. Helena's self-regard is so low that she cannot think past the way that she is not being taunted. Hermia and Helena's self-appreciation levels are altogether different and make them totally foils.

Rationally, the young ladies are very different. Hermia is always the young lady who all the young men are after, so she is by all accounts more certain with her herself and guarantees that she can get a gentleman whenever she so wishes, however she keeps calm about it. Alternatively, Helena, is an extremely desirous sort and has a "feel sorry for me!" disposition toward the young men and also a "The world despises me!" demeanor when the young men admit their spell-incited love for her. Helena's line of speculation additionally appears more ill-advised than that of Hermia. Arguably, although Helena seems envious at the beginning of the play because she believes she is not beautiful enough, later in the play Hermia is the one who starts become envious of Helena after a potion

Moreover, from the play, unlike Helena, Hermia has a father is in charge of her decision. Evidentially, Helena seems to have more freedom to choose whatever she wishes, unlike Hermia who had to obey the will of her father. She is being forced to marry Demetrius yet she is in love with Lysander whereas Demetrius loves Helena. Hermia is unsettled because her father has given an order to the court Theseus that his daughter should face a complete penalty if she fails to abide by the rules of her father. However, Hermia goes against her father’s law and plans to evade with Lysander her true love. Therefore, from the play, Helena has no penalty placed on her since she has no one at her neck to control her decision. However, Helena lacks the peace of mind because she has to either choose to be with Lysander and be blissful her whole life or be with Demetrius, a man who holds Helena’s heart and suffer the pain of heart forever. Alternatively, the idea of Hermia having a father proves why she is more confidence in herself. She probably feels more valued, unlike Helena who is this of herself since she has no one to encourage her and make her feel cared for and valued. Because of​ the unavailability of the fatherly figure in her life, Helena feels less secure with herself and her appearance and even feels mocked at some time when Lysander proclaimed his affection for her. Additionally, it could be the reason why Helena has the ‘the world feels sorry for me' attitude ​towards her life since she feels there was no one who appreciates​ her.

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Helena and Hermia, despite being childhood friends, they still have their disparities as indicated in the play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ In the play, Shakespeare uses the differences of these two female characters as a style of writing called contrast.

Work Cited

Atwood, S. "A Mid-Summer Night's Dream." Information Display. 32.4 (2016). Print.

Scicluna, John. A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare: Harlow: Longman, 2001. Print

Top of Form

Shakespeare, William. A Mid Summer Night's Dream. Evanston, Ill: McDougal Littell, 2002. Print.Bottom of Form

Shakespeare, William. A Mid Summer Night's Dream, (1.1. 181-189)

Shakespeare, William. A Mid Summer Night's Dream, (3.2.340-343), Available at: http://nfs.sparknotes.com/msnd/page_108.html

Shakespeare, William. A Mid Summer Night's Dream, (3.2.280), Available at: http://nfs.sparknotes.com/msnd/page_104.html

August 31, 2021



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