" /> A Midsummer Night's Dream Illusion vs Reality Quotes, Dream Quotes

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Illusion vs Reality Quotes

How happy some o’er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
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.
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgment taste.
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.

– William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1, Scene 1. Helena delivers this moving monologue after Hermia and Lysander leave Athens to elope. She says that love blinds us from seeing the true nature of a person. What we really see is an illusion, for love is all in the head. She uses metaphors to compare love to a blind Cupid and also to a child, who is often deceived in the choices they make. Love has the power to transform people, she believes. It changes a person causing them to act irrationally. Helena is upset by the fact that her beloved Demetrius loves Hermia and not her. Although she is considered by many in Athens to be as beautiful as Hermia, Helena says that Demetrius cannot see this. For her part, Helena admits that Demetrius has "base and vile" qualities, but her blind love for him causes her to admire his qualities and see Demetrius as having "form and dignity" instead. Helen’s words about love not looking with the eyes turn out to be hilariously ironic. For in the end Puck proves the opposite to be true, spraying love potion into the eyes of the lovers who fall in love with the first creature they see! Helena’s monologue also foreshadows the blind love between Titania, Queen of the Fairies, who falls hopelessly for the donkey-headed Nick Bottom.

I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was – there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had – but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream’, because it hath no bottom.

– William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 4, Scene 1. Bottom is at his bombastic and comic best when he wakes up in the forest, ass-head gone, and makes this speech about the previous night’s strange happenings. As he thinks back on Fairy Queen Titania taking him as her lover, he decides that it was all simply a dream. He says that a man would have to be "an ass" if he thought he could explain the dream – ironically Bottom was an ass at the time! Still he believes his dream is worthy of turning into art, he hopes that Quince will write a ballad about it and call it "Bottom’s Dream." In his speech Bottom manages to be both serious and funny at the same time. His attempt to rewrite the Bible is very funny, as he mangles the quote from 1 Corinthians 2:9 – "The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was." In his garbled version, he gets all the body senses mixed up.

More strange than true. I never may believe
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.
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold:
That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy.
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear?

– William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5, Scene 1. Theseus’ speech on the imagination, made at his wedding feast, is one of the most widely quoted speeches from the play. The lovers have told their strange story of what happened in the woods the previous night to the Duke and Hippolyta. But Theseus believes that it is entirely a fantasy, and not rooted in reality. He equates lovers to madmen and poets, saying that each is ruled by a fantastical imagination. The madman sees devils everywhere. The lover can see the beauty of Helen of Troy in somebody unattractive. The poet conjures up connections between heavenly and earthly things and makes the unreal appear real. It is very easy to confuse a bush with a bear at night, Theseus points out.