The story begins with Demetrius pledged to marry Hermia, daughterof Egeus. Conflict arises immediately when Lysander is shown to have wonHermia’s affection and also her undying love. This situation is clouded evenfurther when Helena, a friend of Hermia is found to be in love with Demetrius. The crowning mix-up that throws the events of the play into action is thestrange relationship between Oberon and Titania, the ruling fairies.
Because ofhis untamed jealousy over Titania’s new servant, Oberon orders Puck to sprinklelove juice in Titania’s eye and, taking pity on Helena, the eyes of Demetrius aswell. A solution is very close at hand until Puck mistakes Lysander forDemetrius and causes Lysander to fall desperately in love with Helena. This isthe main conflict. Characters that are desperately in love are torn apart byforces they c annot control.
Helena is in great anguish because she cannot haveDemetrius and now it seems that Lysander is mocking her over this very fact. Hermia is also in terrible pain due to the sudden change of heart seen in herlover. Demetrius is still seeking Hermia with no hope of success and Lysanderis trapped in the daze of love for a woman that is not his true love. It iswith this feeling of utter helplessness that Shakespeare ends act II.
Although this is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, an interesting way toresolve the story would be to take the traditional tragic approach: everyonedies. Hermia, caught between her father’s wish that she marry Demetrius and herstrong love for Lysander, surely will be driven to madness by the loss ofLysander’s love. A loss so great will have no other effect than to drive Hermiato suicide when she confronts Lysander and is mysteriously and continuouslyturned away. With Lysander’s own sword, she cuts herself down and bleeds todeath at her lover’s feet. Confused by the act and possibly shaken back toreality by it, Lysander awakens from his daze and sees his love dead, his ownsword plunged through her body.
Disoriented by the love juice and notremembering what happened, he concludes that he is indeed the killer and sotakes his own life. Demetrius, out of sadness and the fear that he will beblamed for his rival’s death, flees in terror from the city never to be seenagain. The final fate goes to Helena who, overcoming the death of her friendand coming to terms with the knowledge that she will never see Demetrius again,joins a convent and lives out the rest of her life in seclusion.