A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Helena Timeline and Summary
- 1.1.181: Helena rolls into Lysander and Hermia's tragic love scene, a little oblivious. Hermia basically just says, "Hey, what's up, pretty girl," and Helena launches into how she's not pretty at all, and Hermia must be really pretty, which is why Demetrius loves her and not Helena. She compares Hermia to a whole list of nature's prettiest things, presuming this is what makes Demetrius attracted to Hermia. Finally, Helena wishes she could be pretty like Hermia, if only to attract Demetrius.
- 1.1.194. Hermia responds to Helena's mini-rant by saying that she doesn't give anything to Demetrius but frowns, curses, and hate. Helena wishes her own smiles, prayers, and love could move Demetrius as Hermia's scorn has.
- 1.1.200: Hermia, a little exasperated, declares that it's not her fault Demetrius loves her. Helena declares that the "fault" that makes Demetrius love Hermia is Hermia's beauty. Helena wishes that fault were her own.
- 1.1.226: Once Lysander and Hermia leave, Helena compares her sadness to their happiness. She also changes her tune, saying that everyone in Athens except Demetrius thinks she's as pretty as Hermia. While it is Demetrius's error to dote on Hermia, Helena admits that she makes mistakes of her own. She sees Demetrius's worst faults as attractive, even if they're really not. Then Helena begins an exposition on love, saying that love is decided by the eyes and not the mind. Cupid is blind and so judgment can't sway feeling. Helena says love is like a child, making bad choices willy-nilly. Furthermore, love is made a lie everywhere; Demetrius once claimed to love Helena, but changed his mind as soon as he found Hermia. Now, Helena decides she'll tell Demetrius that Hermia and Lysander are going to run away together. That way, she's sure Demetrius will chase after Hermia, and she can chase Demetrius some more.
- 2.1.195: As Demetrius tells Helena to go away, Helena says that he's responsible for making her follow him. Her heart is pure and, if he'd only stop attracting her, she'd stop being attracted to him.
- 2.1.202: Helena says Demetrius's insistence that he can't love her makes her love him all the more. She says she's like Demetrius's dog – the more he kicks her, the more she'll follow him. He can do whatever he wants to her, she says, if he'll only allow her to keep trailing after him. She says it would be a great honor to her, and no cost to him, if he could use her as his dog.
- 2.1.213: As if things couldn't get any worse, Demetrius says looking at Helena makes him sick, and Helena says not looking at Demetrius makes her sick.
- 2.1.220: As Demetrius warns Helena that she's risking her reputation by running about in the deserted forest at night with him, she says she trusts his virtue. It's not night when she sees his face, and the forest isn't deserted when he's near, as he's her whole world.
- 2.1.229: As Demetrius declares he'll run away and leave Helena to the wild beasts, she says no wild beast has a heart as cruel as his. She says he can run away, but, even though she's a woman, she'll chase after him, switching traditional roles.
- 2.1.238: Helena says Demetrius does her wrong everywhere, so it's not a big deal if he does her wrong in the forest. She says his scorn makes a scandal on her femininity, as women are supposed to be the pursued, not the pursuers. As Demetrius leaves, Helena says she'll follow him, making heaven out of the hell he gives her, even if it kills her.
- 2.2.84: Once again, we find Helena chasing after a fleeing Demetrius and pleading with him.
- 2.2.88: Demetrius has finally run off, and Helena decries her fate. She says that, wherever Hermia is, she's sure to be happy, because she has blessed and attractive eyes. Helena is sure her eyes didn't get that way from crying, as she herself has done her fair share of crying and is still "ugly as a bear." Beasts run from her, so it's no surprise that Demetrius runs too. Finally, Helena decides her mirror lied. It's no use to compare herself to Hermia. She then trips over the sleeping Lysander and worries that he might be dead. The paranoid Helena bids him to wake up, if he's alive.
- 2.2.108: Helena assumes Lysander's threats against Demetrius are out of his anger at Demetrius for loving his girl, Hermia. She says Lysander should be happy, as Hermia loves him.
- 2.2.123: Helena listens to Lysander declare his love for her and asks why he mocks her so. She says she thought he was a gentleman, but this is a new low, abusing and mocking a girl that is refused by her crush.
- 3.2.128: Lysander continues to pursue Helena, and Helena declares that Lysander is giving her oaths that rightfully belong to Hermia. Helena says his affections for either girl mean nothing, as he seems to be full of lies. Helena is shocked at how easily Lysander seems willing to trade in Hermia for her.
- 3.2.145: Now Demetrius has woken up, also enchanted and also declaring his love for Helena. Helena can't handle it, thinking both men are making a game of mocking her. She says that, if they were real men, they wouldn't be so mean to a woman. Helena says that the men are rivals for Hermia's love and now they're rivals in mockery of Helena. She scolds them for making a girl cry.
- 3.2.168: As both boys continue to pledge their love, Helena says more breath was never wasted in mockery.
- 3.2.192: Helena thinks Hermia is in on the boys' joke against her. She is shocked that Hermia, her friend and fellow woman, could tease her so badly. She's especially hurt because she and Hermia are childhood friends who did everything together and basically shared a heart until now. Helena declares that Hermia is sacrificing their old love and friendship for the sake of the boys' joke. This behavior isn't becoming of a friend, and especially not of a fellow woman.
- 3.2.222: Helena asks Hermia if she put Lysander up to the mean trick of declaring love for Helena. Helena thinks Hermia's also responsible for Demetrius's sudden change of heart. There's no other explanation for why Demetrius would flatter the girl he hates, or why Lysander would deny his love for Hermia. Helena thinks this is rather cruel; as no boys love her, she deserves pity rather than scorn.
- 3.2.237: Hermia won't admit to the joke (because there is no joke), but Helena is persistent. She says they can all go on pretending and having a good time at her expense, but if they had any pity, grace, or manners, they'd leave her alone. She says she brought this all down on herself and that she'll either die or leave to escape their mockery.
- 3.2.284: Helena is still shocked at their poor behavior and asks Hermia whether she doesn't have any shame as a woman. As they keep pressing her, Helena is forced to give them mean answers. She then calls Hermia a fake and a puppet of the boys' mean plan.
- 3.2.299: Hermia gets testy, and Helena begs the boys, in spite of their mockery, to make sure Hermia doesn't hurt her. Helena declares that she's a coward in fights, and though she's taller, she'd still lose.
- 3.2.306: Helena apologizes; she says she loves Hermia and the only wrong she ever did her friend was to tell Demetrius about Hermia's escape with Lysander. Still, Helena says she's suffered at Demetrius's hand and, if Hermia will let her go quietly, she'll head back to Athens and never bother anybody again. She excuses herself for being crazy in love.
- 3.2.319: Hermia tells Helena to get lost, but Helena says she can't leave, as her love for Demetrius would mean that her heart stays behind with him.
- 3.2.323: As Hermia flares up, ready to fight, Helena cowers. She says Hermia was a vixen when she was in school and, though she's little, she's fierce and scary. Hermia keeps trying to fight, and Helena runs away.
- 3.2.431: Alone, Helena wishes the night would end already. She can't wait for day to come so she can go back to Athens, away from these people she thinks hate her. For now, she'll escape her own miserable company by sleeping.
- 4.1.190: Helena, having woken up with all the rest of the gang, agrees with Hermia that things seem out of focus. Still, Demetrius suddenly loves her, and she feels it's like finding a treasure.