A Midsummer Night's Dream

Helena Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
She loves Demetrius, and at one time he returned her love. But before the play begins, he fell in love with Hermia and left Helena in despair. Because of Demetrius's abandonment of her, Helena lacks self-confidence and self-respect, going so far as to tell Demetrius that she'll love and follow him even if he treats her like his dog. She's also a bit conniving and desperate, willing to betray her friend Hermia's confidence in order to try to win back Demetrius's love. Physically, she's tall and blond.

Helena Quotes in A Midsummer Night's Dream

The A Midsummer Night's Dream quotes below are all either spoken by Helena or refer to Helena. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream published in 2004.
Act 1, scene 1 Quotes
She, sweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man. (109)
Related Characters: Lysander (speaker), Helena
Page Number: 1.1.110-112
Explanation and Analysis:

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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.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind. (227)
Related Characters: Helena (speaker), Hermia, Demetrius
Page Number: 1.1.233-241
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Act 2, scene 1 Quotes
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
We should be wooed and were not made to woo.
I'll follow thee and make a heaven of hell,
to die upon the hand I love so well. (226)
Related Characters: Helena (speaker), Demetrius
Page Number: 2.1.248-251
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 3, scene 2 Quotes
Lord, what fools these mortals be! (117)
Related Characters: Robin Goodfellow (Puck) (speaker), Hermia, Helena, Lysander, Demetrius
Page Number: 3.2.117
Explanation and Analysis:

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O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment:
If you we re civil and knew courtesy,
You would not do me thus much injury.
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
But you must join in souls to mock me too?
If you were men, as men you are in show,
You would not use a gentle lady so;
To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts,
When I am sure you hate me with your hearts.
You both are rivals, and love Hermia;
And now both rivals, to mock Helena:
A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,
To conjure tears up in a poor maid's eyes
With your derision! none of noble sort
Would so offend a virgin, and extort
A poor soul's patience, all to make you sport. (147)
Related Characters: Helena (speaker), Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius
Page Number: 3.2.148-164
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, scene 1 Quotes
May all to Athens back again repair
And think no more of this night's accidents
But as the fierce vexation of a dream. (50)
Related Characters: Oberon (speaker), Hermia, Helena, Lysander, Demetrius
Page Number: 4.1.68-70
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Helena Character Timeline in A Midsummer Night's Dream

The timeline below shows where the character Helena appears in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Love Theme Icon
...lover: before he met Hermia, Demetrius wooed and won the heart of a woman named Helena. (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Just then, Hermia's childhood friend and Demetrius's former love, Helena, enters. She wishes she had Hermia's beauty so that Demetrius would love her. To make... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Left alone on the stage, Helena gives a speech about the tricks love can play on one's eyes, transforming even "things... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Just then, Oberon hears voices. Since he's invisible, he decides to spy. Demetrius and Helena enter, walking through the woods. Demetrius tells Helena to stop following him since he does... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Plays Within Plays Theme Icon
Dreams Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
The Supernatural Theme Icon
After they exit, Oberon promises that soon Demetrius will seek Helena's love. Once Puck returns with the love-in-idleness flower, Oberon tells him that "A sweet Athenian... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Demetrius runs into the glade, pursued by Helena. He demands she cease following. She begs him to stay. But he runs on, and... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Helena wakes Lysander, who immediately professes his love for her. He curses Demetrius for mistreating her,... (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
Love Theme Icon
Plays Within Plays Theme Icon
Dreams Theme Icon
The Supernatural Theme Icon
...love juice on some true-love's sight" (3.2.91). He orders Puck to search the forest for Helena, and use some illusion to bring her to Oberon, who will make Demetrius fall in... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Plays Within Plays Theme Icon
Dreams Theme Icon
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Oberon puts the love ointment on Demetrius' eyes as Puck returns with the warning that Helena is on her way and trailed by the lovelorn Lysander. Puck is excited to watch... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Helena enters with Lysander following and begging her to see that his vows of love are... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
The two men now begin to fight and argue over Helena, and each tries to get the other to settle for Hermia. (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...abandoned her. Lysander tells her it was love that made him leave; his love for Helena. Hermia can't believe what Lysander is telling her. Meanwhile, Helena now thinks that Hermia has... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Hermia can't understand why Helena would accuse her of such a thing. She demands Lysander tell her what's going on.... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Helena asks Lysander and Demetrius to protect her, which they gladly do, though she never ceases... (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
Love Theme Icon
Plays Within Plays Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
The Supernatural Theme Icon
...honor of Duke Theseus's wedding and the weddings of Lysander and Hermia and Demetrius and Helena. (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Dreams Theme Icon
The Supernatural Theme Icon
...followed Hermia into the woods because he loved her, he now, "by some power," loves Helena (4.1.161). Theseus overrules Egeus, decides that the four lovers will marry at his wedding, and... (full context)