A Midsummer Night's Dream By William Shakespeare Act III: Scene 2

HELENA
Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,
To follow me, and praise my eyes and face?
And made your other love, Demetrius, —
Who even but now did spurn me with his foot, —
To call me goddess, nymph, divine, and rare,
Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this
To her he hates? and wherefore doth Lysander
Deny your love, so rich within his soul,
And tender me, forsooth, affection,
But by your setting on, by your consent?
What though I be not so in grace as you,
So hung upon with love, so fortunate;
But miserable most, to love unlov'd?
This you should pity rather than despise.

HERMIA
I understand not what you mean by this.

HELENA
Ay, do persever, counterfeit sad looks,
Make mows upon me when I turn my back;
Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up:
This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.
If you have any pity, grace, or manners,
You would not make me such an argument.
But fare ye well: 'tis partly my own fault;
Which death, or absence, soon shall remedy.

LYSANDER
Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse;
My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena!

HELENA
O excellent!

HERMIA
Sweet, do not scorn her so.

DEMETRIUS
If she cannot entreat, I can compel.

LYSANDER
Thou canst compel no more than she entreat;
Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers. —
Helen, I love thee; by my life I do;
I swear by that which I will lose for thee
To prove him false that says I love thee not.

DEMETRIUS
I say I love thee more than he can do.

LYSANDER
If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.

DEMETRIUS
Quick, come, —

HERMIA
Lysander, whereto tends all this?

LYSANDER
Away, you Ethiope!

DEMETRIUS
No, no, sir: — he will
Seem to break loose; take on as you would follow:
But yet come not. You are a tame man; go!

LYSANDER
Hang off, thou cat, thou burr: vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.

HERMIA
Why are you grown so rude? what change is this,
Sweet love?

LYSANDER
Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out!
Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence!

HERMIA
Do you not jest?

HELENA
Yes, sooth; and so do you.

LYSANDER
Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.

DEMETRIUS
I would I had your bond; for I perceive
A weak bond holds you; I'll not trust your word.

LYSANDER
What! should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I'll not harm her so.

HERMIA
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 lov'd me; yet since night you left me:
Why then, you left me, — O, the gods forbid! —
In earnest, shall I say?

LYSANDER
Ay, by my life;
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore be out of hope, of question, doubt,
Be certain, nothing truer; 'tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.

HERMIA
O me! you juggler! you cankerblossom!
You thief of love! What! have you come by night,
And stol'n my love's heart from him?

HELENA
Fine, i' faith!
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What! will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you!

HERMIA
Puppet! why so? Ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures; she hath urg'd her height;
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail'd with him. —
And are you grown so high in his esteem
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.

HELENA
I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me. I was never curst;
I have no gift at all in shrewishness;
I am a right maid for my cowardice;
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,
That I can match her.

HERMIA
Lower! hark, again.

HELENA
Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia;
Did ever keep your counsels; never wrong'd you;
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood:
He follow'd you; for love I follow'd him;
But he hath chid me hence, and threaten'd me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too:
And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back,
And follow you no farther. Let me go:
You see how simple and how fond I am.

HERMIA
Why, get you gone: who is't that hinders you?

HELENA
A foolish heart that I leave here behind.

HERMIA
What! with Lysander?

HELENA
With Demetrius.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

The play opens with the upcoming marriage of which couple?




Quiz