April 16

Fare thee well, nymph.

Tonight, please examine Helena’s statement below:

Your wrongs do set a scandal upon my sex.
We cannot fight for love as men may do.
We should be wooed and were not made to woo. (2.1.247-249)

What is her claim?  What specific evidence does she give in this scene?  Do you agree with her? Why or why not?

As always, please follow the rules of standard written English and respond to at least one other comment in this thread.

MND blog #3

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Posted April 16, 2019 by equinson in category A Midsummer Night's Dream

27 thoughts on “Fare thee well, nymph.

  1. jane

    In this short passage, Helena is basically saying that women don’t have the same power of men, and can’t pursue men. Women at this time had to sit around and wait for someone to show interest in them and “woo” them, and only then could they start a relationship with that person. Helena feels hopeless because she is in love with Demetrius, but he clearly doesn’t love her back. She is trying to do all that she can that might potentially lead to Demetrius developing feelings for her. He obviously can’t see the situation from Helena’s view, and lacks empathy. He confronts her and tells her to leave him alone forever. This is something that is absolutely devastating to her from someone you love, and Helena is left trying to show Demetrius how challenging it is to be in her position. I agree with Helena, because I think that the standard of women having to sit around and wait for someone to love them is hard, especially since this idea is put on top of the weight already on Helena with the stress of not getting love back. I don’t blame her at all for being clingy, and I think Demetrius is at fault for his lack of empathy and compassion. He doesn’t have to be in love with Helena, but it wouldn’t hurt him to be polite and merciful to her.

  2. Emma Garbowitz

    In this short passage, Helena is basically saying that women don’t have the same rights as men and that they are worthless. It’s like women are just supposed to be waiting on their pedestal for a man to woo them and can’t do anything in their own power themselves. However, they have no power to choose who they want to themselves. For example, even though Hermia wants to marry Lysander, her father wants otherwise for her and there will be severe consequences if she doesn’t obey him. Although Hermia’s father has authority over her, he cannot choose who Hermia can and can’ t be with because she has the right to choose. Throughout the scene in the forest, Helena is trying to pursue Demetrius because he is hopelessly in love with Demetrius. However, Demetrius has no feelings for her back and he wants to pursue Hermia himself. Demetrius feels it is okay for him to go for Hermia even though Helena is doing the exact same thing and it is not okay. This is obviously very unfair for Helena and all women too (at least during this time). Therefore, I agree with with Helena’s statement that women are treated without the same respect that men have. Obviously Helena and Demetrius have completely different ideas of what they can and can’t do, more specifically with love. Helena understands that women don’t usually do this, but that won’t stop her and Demetrius feels as though she has no right to pursue him.

  3. Mylesn

    In her speech she is comparing the male and female roles in romance. She is saying that men and women do not share equal abilities. Men woo women and women do not woo men. “We should be wooed and were not made to woo.” By him making her chase him and try to persuade her into loving him is not supposed to happen. She is basically saying that men can fight and persist for love as she is doing now, but the only thing a women can do is wait and reply. I agree with her statement. In most instances it is the man chasing the women. Romeo and Juliet it is Romeo who seeks out Juliet after the party, not the other way around. Even this being the norm, Helena does not sit complacently and wait for Demetrius to change his mind, she seeks him out. Even after this Demetrius still rejects her and leaves her in the forest.

  4. angelicac1

    In Helena’s statement, she believes that women should be the individuals that are asked out. They shouldn’t have to pursue a man which is what she is doing for Demetrius. For a while Demetrius previously used to court Helena until he met and fell for Hermia. He left Helena and started to pursue Hermia after that, but Hermia loved Lysander. Poor Helena had been attempting to win over Demetrius ever since he left her, which is what led her to making this statement.

    “The story shall be changed:/ Apollo flies and Daphne holds the chase;/ The dove pursues the griffin…” (II,i.237-239). Through Helena’s perspective, women that chase after men are just as desperate as she is. I personally don’t agree with her because people shouldn’t be pressured by society to believe that what they feel isn’t right for their own lives. Everyone should just pay attention to themselves and not judge others’ problems. Women shouldn’t be considered desperate for asking out someone that they love or like. People should be able to do whatever they desire without being put down by others.

  5. Kate Ma.

    In this speech, Helena points out the differences between gender roles in society, particularly in relationships. Helena is trying desperately for Demetrius to love her but she seems she is getting nowhere. Helena is saying that she shouldn’t be the one in the relationship to try and woo Demetrius, it should be the other way around. Yet, Helena is so desperate she doesn’t stop trying to get Demetrius to love her which is uncommon in those times. As we know women weren’t equal to men and women have certain expectations. One being that the man is supposed to woo and chase the women. This speech gives us insight to Helena’s personality. It shows us that she’s not afraid to break society’s expectations and fight for what she wants, being Demetrius in this case. This short passage of Helena gives us a insight to her personality and the society she’s in.

    1. Emma Garbowitz

      I agree with your point that she is able to go against the crowd and do what she thinks she is capable of doing.

  6. Emily

    Helena is saying that women are not equal to men, and that they should wait around for men to choose their destiny. Helena thinks that women are “not made to woo” but instead made to wait for men to make the first move. This idea does not have any factual backing because the readers experience many points where women are strong enough to stand up to men, so why shouldn’t they be able to pursue love? Hermia rejected her father’s plan for her to marry Lysander, and Titania stands up to Oberon when he wants to take control of the Indian child. Women are not subject to men and thus they should be able to choose who they love and their destiny.

    1. Mikayla Friedman

      I totally agree that this play basically supports the opposite of what Helena says. Titania doesn’t give in to Oberon, and Hermia doesn’t listen to Theseus or Egeus. Shakespeare must be doing this on purpose, I wonder why? To say that women have power to stand up to their fathers or husbands is a radical idea for this time period.

  7. maxwellw

    In this quotation Helena is claiming men were ment to woo women, and Dimitrious, in not wooing her is doing a diservice to her and her gender. She says that women can not fight for love as men do, most likely reffering to social norms that provide women should sit and wait for men to come to them. I agree that in society it is expected of men to provide and make the first move, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong. Especially in this time period it would make sense that this social norm is around.

  8. Mikayla Friedman

    In this statement, Helena tells Demetrius about the romance ‘norms’ of this time period. She says that his wrongdoings, or his unwillingness to love her, is something to be ashamed of. She also tells him how women are expected to sit and wait for suitors to come and try to get their love. Men should be running after women, not the other way around, according to Helena. This is a very common idea for this time period, and we see it in the Petrarchan idea/model. I found it interesting that Helena basically says she should not be chasing after Demetrius, even though that is exactly what she is doing. Maybe she is trying to call attention to the fact that she should not be doing this, it is Demetrius that should be chasing after her? Throughout this entire scene, Helena has been complimenting Demetrius in hopes of getting him to fall in love with her. She even told him about Hermia’s plan to run away with Lysander, but despite her efforts, nothing works. Helena is calling out the gender roles in society, but I am not sure if she agrees with them or not. On one hand, she is trying to get Demetrius to fall in love with her, which is contradicting typical gender conformities. But on the other hand, she is calling herself out on it by telling Demetrius that he should be the one wooing her!! In my opinion, it doesn’t matter who does the chasing, boy or girl. However, if someone doesn’t love you the way you love them, I don’t think you should try to make them fall in love with you (whether you are a man or woman), or change yourself so they will love a different you. If a person doesn’t love you for who you truly are, then they are not worth pursuing, no matter how hard it is to let go.

  9. stephaniec

    In this speech, Helena believes that women and men have different roles in a relationship. The men should pursue to the women, and the women should be the one pursued and courted. She claimed that women can not fight for love in the same way men can. Essentially, the woman in the relationship can share her feelings and express her love for the man, but she would seem desperate and clingy in the eyes of the man. However, when the man pursues the woman, the women is to feel loved and honored. I mostly agree with this statement because in the play Helena loves Demetrius, and is doing everything she can to win him over. But, in the eyes of Demetrius she seems clingy. Yet, Demetrius is in love with Hermia, and instead of seeming desperate, their relationship is being forced by Hermia’s father even though Hermia loves someone else.

  10. Zoe

    Helena, in these lines, is saying that Demetrius’s behavior is an insult to all women and that women cannot fight for love the same way a man can so they should be the ones wooed, not men. This way of thinking is incredibly different from Hermia however. Hermia, instead of waiting around for her father, Egeus, to choose her love, she found Lysander and fell in love with him. Helena, on the other hand, only started to love Demetrius once he started to woo her, but once he stopped Helena was already too far in. Besides Hermia showing defiance towards Helena’s stereotype of relationships between men and women, Titania also showed this defiance towards Oberon. Oberon had been so rude to Titania and tried to force her to give up something she loved to Oberon just because he was jealous. Although she could have given in and end the fight she refused and ran away from Oberon. Helena and Hermia are completely different yet have similar problems with not being able to have the love they need.

  11. caseyz

    In this quote, Helena is talking about how women are not expected to fight for love like men are expected to do. She is saying that she would rather be the one who sits and waits for Demetrius to fall in love with her, than trying to make Demetrius love her. When this play was written, women and men didn’t have equal rights. Helena is saying that even though she knows it isn’t socially acceptable to fight for her love for Demetrius, she is willing to because she is desperately in love with him.

    1. trinityt

      I agree. By pursuing her love, Demetrius, instead of waiting for him or other men to come to her, Helena did what society, back then, considered to be unusual.

  12. trinityt

    In Helena’s quote, she is saying that women were made to wait for love to come to them, while men makes the first move. Since the idea of equal rights for both men and women were rather radical at the time, women didn’t have the same rights and expectations as men do. However, Helena is so in love with Demetrius that she is willing to do what society, at that time, thinks wasn’t rather normal. Back then, normally men were the one supposed to ask out women, but it’s the opposite in Helena’s case. Before Demetrius met Hermia and fell for her, he was the one that made the first move with Helena, but now Demetrius chases after Hermia. Out of desperation to gain his love for her once again, Helena chases after Demetrius instead of waiting for him or other men to chase after her. By pursuing her love, Helena did what women weren’t expected to do and wasn’t considered normal at that time.

  13. Hannah P.

    In this passage, Helena comments on the fact of the time that men who the lady and the lady get wooed. Demetrius refused to love Helena, causing her to try to win over his love the way that he was supposed to. She is going against all the rules at the time against women and fighting for her love because she loves Demetrius, and she won’t stop until he loves her back.

  14. Hannah M.

    In this speech Helena is explaining how the different sex’s have a role on love. For instance, she says that women shouldn’t be the ones to impress the men it shpuld be the other way around and men shall impress women. This goes to show how based on sex oyu are given a role to play and a you need to do things a certain way or else your not a “man” or a “woman”. I don’t beleive in this because men and women should be able to do what they would like. Women are able to and can impress men.

    1. josepha4

      Yeah I agree that if you do something that is generally a specific genders job you are seen as less a man or less a woman.

  15. josepha4

    In this speech Helena’s message is that the gender roles are different for men and women in the case of romance. She believes that women should wait around for a man to woo them. In this case Demetrius love Hermia and Helena loves Demetrius and she can’t do anything about it because she deserves to be wooed rather than continue fighting for her love. If a man pursues a woman then she should feel flattered and appreciated but if it’s the other way around then the woman is seen as clingy and desperate. In this time period I agree with the way that she thinks because that’s the way the standards were back then and provides an explanation on why it’s that way today.

  16. johnh1

    What I think Helena is saying is that men are supposed to take the leading role in a relationship and that by not loving her, Demetrius is forcing her to do what he should do. She is also, saying that this makes it hard for her to do what she is doing to be with him. This statement, in my opinion, is stupid in today’s standards. Women are completely equal to men and should be treated as such in a relationship if they are contributing the same amount. However, back then she might be correct. It was a society where men would do the “wooing” so maybe he should be more considerate. The problem with this is that Hermia is taking a leading role in her life and choosing who to be with and so could Helena.

  17. Madi R.

    In this short passage, Helena claims that women are not equal to men. Both men and women have different roles in a relationship. Helena is saying that in a relationship women do not have the power to pursue men. She claims that men are supposed to make the first move. Demetrius is acting like love is a game he only wants what he cannot have. He gained Helena’s love and then left her in the dirt. I agree with Helena if Demetrius did not leave her she would not be following him around all the time. To conclude, if Helena loves Demetrius, she has a right to pursue him because women have the power to choose who they love.

  18. Maddie

    In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Helena gives a quick speech to Demetrius, explaining to him the reasons why she follows him around. She says that it is unusual and unexpected for a woman to pursue a man. She is unable to publicly show her love for Demetrius because no one would approve of a woman trying to charm a man. Usually in this time and place it was more common and accepted for men to charm and woo other women. She feels like she cannot express her love freely as men do and fight for love as men do. It may have been so in the past, but in the present I disagree with Helena. I think that girls and women are perfectly capable to charm men and express their love for men. The times have changed a lot, and now it is very common and normal for a woman to make the first move in a relationship. It is hard to truly relate to Helena because we now live in a very different society and have never experienced what she is going through.

  19. Sophie

    In the short passage above, Helena is frustrated with set roles that men and women have to play. She feels hopeless and controlled by men. Helena wants Demetrius to love her, or to woo her, but he’s not going to because he wants to woo somebody else. The fact that Helena doesn’t have the power to make the relationship work by herself is aggravating. I agree with Helena because it is not fair that the men are “supposed” to make the decisions. Women have just as much capability, if not more capability, than men do to make a relationship work themselves. “For you, in my respect, are all the world. Then, how can it be said I am alone When all the world is here to look on me?” (Act 2, scene i, lines 231-233)

  20. Brishti

    In Helena’s statement, she tells Demetrius about the expectations for both men and women in society in regards to relationships. She claims that men always need to make the first move, and by having Demetrius refuse to make the first move, Helena can’t do much to forward the situation other than begging. She tells him how women cannot “fight for love”. During this time period, women were not able to pursue the people they wanted. While things have changed now, back then women could not step up and ask that person out if they wanted to. Helena also mentions how women “should be wooed and were not made to woo”. This further emphasizes the fact that women in Shakespeare’s time only could accept or deny the men who tried to woo them. They had no other choices other than that. They couldn’t try and gain the affection of the one they sought. I somewhat agree with her. If she wants Demetrius, she should be able to have the oppurtunity to win his affection. However, as she is persuing Demetrius, she already is making it clear that she wants him, and Demetrius gave his answer. On one hand, Helena feels lonely, sad, and rejected because he is not interested and gives a harsh answer. But on the other, Demetrius would probably think that she is clingy and will not leave him alone. This reminds me of how Romeo was pursuing Rosaline in the beginning of Romeo and Juliet. Many people were annoyed that Romeo kept chasing after Rosaline’s affection even when she gave her answer, because she obviously wanted to be left alone. Now, the genders are reversed and most people think that Helena is right by literally following Demetrius into the forest, even when he gave his answer. So while I do agree with Helena for the most part, and I believe that women should have the right to choose in a society like the one that Shakespeare was alive in, I feel as though to fully understand the complexity of a situation, you have to analyze it from both sides.

  21. Sunna

    In this passage, Helena is telling Demetrius that women and men have different “jobs” in a relationship. Men are expected to chase after women, while women stand idly by. When women pursue who they love, they are seen as “clingy” or “needy”. This shows that women were expected to stay silent and simply let things happen to them. Helena is one of the only women who knows what she wants and tries to obtain it. If Helena had been a man and Demetrius a woman, people of that time would have thought nothing of it. But because Helena is a woman, people find her “overbearing”.

  22. laila

    In these lines, Helena claims that women do not have the same power as men do when it comes to starting a relationship with the other sex. She says, “We should be wooed and we’re not made to woo.” This means that it is a women’s duty to chase after men, and only if a man is interested, will he begin a relationship with the women. In this time period, you’d rarely see a man chasing after a women. Women had to chase after what they wanted, and men had the power to do whatever they wanted. Helena wants nothing more than for Demetrius to love her the way she loves him, but Demetrius is in love with someone else. Men had the power to love who they wanted, the way they wanted to. Women didn’t have much of a choice when it came to love, and usually were forced to love someone. I agree with Hermia because it isn’t okay for men to have this power over women, because in a two person relationship, power should be equal and feelings should be mutual.


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