Human Nature in Hamlet and a Midsummer Night’s Dream
“It is the nature of people to love, then destroy, then love again that which they value the most. ” –Unknown. Countless authors have tried to display love as human nature, but no author does this better than the famous playwright, William Shakespeare. In both Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare exhibits how love can control a person. To understand how love controls a person, one must understand that human nature is the sum of qualities and traits shared by all humans.
All humans have exhibit love in one way or another, which explains how human nature relates to the controlling aspect of love. In Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, conflicts between loyalty to family and friends, lack of trustworthiness towards others, and jealousy towards others prevent characters from showing how they truly feel about their love. However, the character’s inability to show their true love does not prevent them from exhibiting their human nature of love, despite conflict and obstacles.
In Hamlet, one can see that Hamlet obviously loves his father. Because Hamlet loves his father, he wishes to retain the loyalty he has for his father. Part of Hamlet’s desire to remain loyal to his father stems from the marriage of Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, and Claudius, Hamlet’s father’s brother. Hamlet highly disapproves of this marriage and wants to make it known. Hamlet feels that he can avenge his father’s death by killing Claudius. Hamlet contributes to the death of Claudius, but in the end, Claudius kills himself.
The death of Claudius shows that Hamlet remains loyal to his father and shows the love he has for him. While a conflict between love and loyalty do control Hamlet’s actions in Hamlet, a more obvious conflict between love and loyalty occurs in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hermia faces the conflict of remaining loyal to her father or following her heart and marrying Lysander, without her father’s approval. In the time of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, girls did not have to right to choose who they married, so their fathers chose for them.
Hermia’s father told his daughter she could marry Demetrius, become a nun, or die. Hermia does not like any of those choices, so rebels against her father and decides to go and marry Lysander, her true lover. Love causes Hermia to choose Lysander, which shows how the human nature of love has controlling powers. However, in the end, Hermia’s father accepts the fact that his daughter has love for Lysander and allows them to marry, but not just because they love each other. The marriage of Hermia and Lysander results from Demetrius falling out of love with Hermia.
In Hamlet, Hamlet decides to obey and remain loyal to his father, while in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hermia decides to go against her father’s requests because of her love for Lysander. While these Shakespearean plays produce two different outcomes between the human nature of love and loyalty, they both show how love controls the loyalty of a person to a loved one. Another point that comes across in Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes as a result of how trustworthiness gets in the way of love.
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hermia trusts her best friends, Helena to keep the secret that she plans to marry Lysander, without her father’s knowledge. While Hermia thinks she can trust Helena with her secret, Helena does not keep true to her word of not telling anyone the secret. Hermia tells Helena this secret because she not only trusts Helena, she loves her as a friend. Hermia’s love for Helena causes the telling of the secret. However, when Helena goes against Hermia’s request of keeping the secret, Hermia loses some of her trust for Helena.
While Hermia does not lose her love for Helena, her feelings do become hurt. Hermia has feelings of love towards Helena. While the feelings of love never go away, they do control the way Hermia acts towards Helena because the love is hurt and the trustworthiness is lost. This issue of loss of trustworthiness and hurt feelings of love controls how Hermia and Helena act and plays a big role in how the play ends. However, the issues between Hermia and Helena become resolved and everyone has happiness in the end.
Just as trustworthiness plays a role in the controlling nature of love in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, trustworthiness also plays a role in the controlling nature of love in Hamlet. In Hamlet, Hamlet only shows trust towards his friend, Horatio, the only person who has not gone behind his back. Hamlet’s “friends”, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have lost Hamlet’s trust by going behind his back and spying on him, orders from the king and queen. Hamlet becomes aware of the spying. Throughout the play, many people turn their back on Hamlet, and Hamlet loses trust for many of his so-called friends.
So, after reading Hamlet, one can imply that Hamlet only has trust for Horatio and only has love for Horatio. Horatio is Hamlet’s only true friends as he is the one who has not gone behind Hamlet’s back and always been there for him. Horatio is a true best friend to Hamlet. Love and trustworthiness controls how Hamlet acts towards his friends. Because the love and trustworthiness has been lost for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet treats them as if they have to earn the love and trust back.
However, Hamlet knows that he will never lose his trust and love for Horatio, so his feelings toward Horatio control how he acts. A final aspect of how the human nature of love controls ones actions goes to the feeling of jealousy. Jealousy plays a major role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, being a recurrent theme. The whole story revolves around jealousy. Helena has jealousy towards Hermia because she loves Demetrius, but Demetrius loves Hermia. Helena tries to make excuses as to why Demetrius does not love her and blames it on the fact that Hermia has better looks.
Helena does not have success in trying to come up with excuses as to why Demetrius does not love her. However, everyone who has jealousy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream gets there way and the issue of jealousy has a resolution. The jealousy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes as a result of love. Love controls how a person acts and when a person does not get what they want through love, they become jealous. Another scenario where jealously comes into play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream involves the conflict between Titania and Oberon over the little boy they have taken in.
Titania and Oberon both have feelings of love for the little boy and have conflicting opinions of what they should do. The little boy spends a majority of the time with Titania and because of this, Oberon becomes jealous of Titania because he loves the child as well. In conclusion, after reading Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one can conclude that love is human nature. Love controls every aspect of life and because of love people develop feels of loyalty, trustworthiness, and even jealousy.
As shown in these two Shakespearean plays, love does control life. Shakespeare wrote about normal humans, their actions, the consequences of their actions, and their motives. Many times all of this came as a result of human nature, what humans naturally do. One can infer from reading many of Shakespeare’s plays that Shakespeare possessed a quality that allowed him to dig into the true actions of humans, and how their actions controlled their lives. Shakespeare was a master of writing about human nature.