Before we explore the character of Helena, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, let us just remind you how you can explore a Shakespearean character in any of our published plays.
If you haven’t tried out our techniques of using ‘Parts and Cues’ and ‘Highlit Text’ to explore a Shakespeare character, then you’ll find it helpful to read the detailed explanation we give for the character Hamlet (click on Let’s Explore Hamlet).
Helena – the rejected lover
You can explore any Shakespearean character in a play published by Players-Shakespeare.com in a similar way. Here we help you explore Helena the lover who has been rejected by Demetrius in favour of Hermia.
Helena is the largest part in the play – by a smidgen, also known as a couple of lines. but the largest part nevertheless.
- We first meet her in A1s1, after Hermia has been told by Theseus that she, Hermia, must marry Demetrius or face the consequences. She and Lysander decide to run away. Helena enters towards the end of the scene, and has two main speeches: the first in which she bemoans that Hermia is so more attractive to Demetrius than she is; and in the second, she plans to tell Demtrius that Lysander and Hermia plan to run away, in the hopes that she can spend time with Demtrius trying to find the other two in the forest. Read those two speeches in Parts and Cues format.
- The next time we see Helena is an A2S1, after Titania and Oberon have fallen out. Helena and Demtrius enter the forest glade where Oberon is. Demetrius treats Helena badly, and she pleads for his love. To see Helena’s speeches, at the end of this scene, look at them in Parts and Cues format.
- In the next scene, Helena is still chaisng Demetrius, but comes across Lysander. He awakes, and due to Oberon’s flower juice, thinks he is in love with Helena. She thinks that Lysander is making fun of her. Let’s start with her lines in Parts and Cues.
- A3S2 is the biggest scene for the four lovers in the play. Helena has well over 100 lines. Both men are now ‘in love’ with her, and Hermia becomes more than a little upset. Helena thinks they’re all making fun of her. What does that say about her character? Read her lines in Parts and Cues format to come to your own view.
- Helena has two more lines in A4S1 when she finds she has recovered Demtrius’ love, and that’s it. Nothing more to say in A4S2 or A5.
The scenes above should help you to come to a view about Helena’s character. Of course, by reading the scenes above, you may well see things differently from what I’ve outlined above, but you should come to clearer view of what you think about the character of Helena.