A Midsummer Night's Dream
How we cite our quotes:
Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And won thy love doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling. (1.1.2)
Yikes! In the play's opening scene, we discover that Theseus and Hippolyta are about to be married because Theseus conquered Hippolyta and her people (the Amazons). Although Hippolyta seems pretty pleased with the engagement, we're left with an uneasy feeling because Theseus sees love as something that can be won by sheer force. The idea resurfaces again just a few moments later when Theseus determines that a young woman must marry (against her will) the man her father has chosen for her. Otherwise, she'll face the death penalty or life as a celibate nun.
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke,
This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child;
Thou, thou, Lysander, (1.1.2)
Here, we learn that Hermia and Lysander are in love, but unable to marry, because Hermia's father (Egeus) has engaged her to another man (Demetrius). Still, the play is sympathetic toward a young person's right to choose a marriage partner based on love and not the whims and desires of parents. (Shakespeare returns to this subject in several other plays like Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and The Taming of the Shrew.)
Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man. (1.1.106)
Hmm. This is interesting. Here, we learn that Demetrius was once engaged ("made love to") to another girl, Helena, before dropping her to be with Hermia. Long before the fairies' love juice causes Demetrius to fall back in love with Helena (2.2; 3.2), we learn that lovers can be fickle and erratic, even without the help of some magic potion.