Hermia

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For other uses, see Hermia (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Hernia.
Washington Allston's 1818 painting Hermia and Helena.

Hermia is a fictional character from Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. The dialogue makes it clear that she is shorter than Helena. She is caught in a romantic accident where she loves one man, Lysander, but is loved by Demetrius, whose feelings she does not return.

Hermia loves Lysander, but her father, Egeus, wants her to marry Demetrius. Hermia's refusal of her father's command would result in her death sentence or residence at a nunnery by Athenian law. Lysander and Hermia run away into the forest; on the way they meet Demetrius' former fiance and Hermia's best friend Helena, whom Demetrius abandoned to woo Hermia. Helena is still hopelessly in love, but Hermia tells her not to worry, as Lysander and she will flee and Demetrius will no longer see her face. Helena tells Demetrius, hoping that he will realize her love for him if she tells him the truth, but Demetrius pursues Hermia and Lysander into the forest with Helena following.

After a scene in which Demetrius tries to get Helena to stop following him and Helena declares her love, Oberon (Fairy King), who has been watching the whole time, being invisible to humans, orders his sprite, Puck, to place a drop from a magical flower on the sleeping Demetrius' eyelids so that he will fall in love with Helena when he wakes, and everyone will be content; however, Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius; therefore, when Lysander sets his sights on Helena, Lysander falls in love with her instead. After realizing the mistake Oberon places a drop of the magical flower on Demetrius' eyes and sends him chasing after Helena with Lysander.

When both Demetrius and Lysander chase after her, Helena accuses Hermia of being part of a cruel joke. Hermia feels betrayed by the accusation and retorts that she would never hurt her friend that way. Because Lysander and Demetrius's love for Hermia was so great, Helena believes that the two are also mocking her, along with Hermia.

Puck finally places the antidote on Lysander's eyes - but not on Demetrius's. They all wake up the next morning when Theseus, Hippolyta and Egeus find them. This is the day Hermia is to make her choice to marry Demetrius, enter a nunnery or die. The lovers wake up dazed, unable to explain how they got there, and muttering about a strange dream. But Demetrius, now permanently under the love-flower's spell, says that he loves only Helena, so everything ends well with Hermia and Lysander together. Hermia and Lysander then marry, Theseus overruling Egeus' objection.

Hermia is named after Hermes, the Greek god of exchange and dreams. This connects with the economic reasons Demetrius and Lysander desire her, as well as their demands to be in control of her psyche, or dreams.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Marshall, David. "Exchanging Visions: Reading A Midsummer Night's Dream." ELH 49.3 (Autumn 1982) pp. 543-575