A Midsummer Night's Dream Foolishness and Folly Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to Folger's online edition.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether (if you yield not to your father's choice)
You can endure the livery of a nun,
For aye to be shady cloister mewed,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage,
But earthlier happy is the rose distilled
Than that which withering on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness. (1.1.169-180)
Theseus explains to Hermia what her options are, but thinks that a vow of chastity would be a poor choice. For Theseus, choosing love over practicality is foolishness.
By all the vows that ever men have broke
(In number more than ever women spoke),
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee. (1.1.178-181)
Shakespeare pokes a bit of fun here at love—men break vows faster than women can make them. Not only does Hermia know this, she chooses to swear on it. For Shakespeare, one thing that you can depend on in love is the foolishness it brings.