A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play about love. All of its action—from the escapades of Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena in the forest, to the argument between Oberon and Titania, to the play about two lovelorn youths that Bottom and his friends perform at Duke Theseus's marriage to Hippolyta—are motivated by love. But A Midsummer Night's Dream is not a romance, in which the audience gets caught up in a passionate love affair between two characters. It's a comedy, and because it's clear from the outset that it's a comedy and that all will turn out happily, rather than try to overcome the audience with the exquisite and overwhelming passion of love, A Midsummer Night's Dream invites the audience to laugh at the way the passion of love can make people blind, foolish, inconstant, and desperate. At various times, the power and passion of love threatens to destroy friendships, turn men against men and women against women, and through the argument between Oberon and Titania throws nature itself into turmoil.
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, love is a force that characters cannot control, a point amplified by workings of the love potion, which literally makes people slaves to love. And yet, A Midsummer Night's Dream ends happily, with three marriages blessed by the reconciled fairy King and Queen. So even as A Midsummer Night's Dream makes fun of love's effects on both men and women and points out that when it comes to love there's nothing really new to say, its happy ending reaffirms loves importance, beauty, and timeless relevance.
Love Quotes in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness. (76)
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man. (109)
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth. (132)
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)
Titania waked and straightway loved an ass. (33)
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)
These antique fables nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact. (2)