A Midsummer Night’s Dream Transformation 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.

My mistress with a monster is in love.
Near to her close and consecrated bower,
While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,
A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
Were met together to rehearse a play
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial-day.
The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented, in their sport
Forsook his scene and enter’d in a brake
When I did him at this advantage take,
An ass’s nole I fixed on his head:
Anon his Thisbe must be answered,
And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,
Rising and cawing at the gun’s report,
Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky,
So, at his sight, away his fellows fly;
And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls;
He murder cries and help from Athens calls.
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong;
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch;
Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch.
I led them on in this distracted fear,
And left sweet Pyramus translated there:
When in that moment, so it came to pass,
Titania waked and straightway loved an ass.

– William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 2. Fairy King Oberon’s faithful servant Puck reports back to his master on the outcome of Oberon placing the love potion on the sleeping Titania. Puck tells how Oberon’s plan for Titania has worked and she has fallen in love with a monster. Puck explains that he came upon a group of workmen-actors in the forest near Titania and transformed the head of the one playing Pyramus into that of an ass. He uses similes to describe how the other workmen ran when they saw him, like wild geese that spot a hunter, or a flock of jackdaws flying at the sound of a gunshot. Titania then woke up "and straightaway loved an ass," the mischievous Puck says with obvious glee.