As individuals, we seek a fantastical encounter with true love. Through the plays A Midsummer Nights Dream, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night, Shakespeares characters find true love through various tests in which one of the lovers identity is masked, either physically or subconsciously. While these three plays share different plots, they all portray Shakespeares stance that romance exists in human love, and that if the love is pure, it will prevail over the most eccentric circumstances.
A Midsummer Nights Dream employs several mythical qualities, such as fairys and love potions. The love between Hermia and Lysander is put to an immediate test when Hermias father, Egeus says, Scornful Lysander, true, he hath my love, And what is mine my love shall render him. And she is mine, and all my right of her I do estate unto Demetrius (I, I, line 95-98). This causes the young lovers to venture into the forest, so their love can exist without interference. Falling under this spell causes Lysander to ignore, and treat Hermia poorly.
Despite the actions of Lysander, Hermia stays true to her feelings of love for Lysander. These examples of faith, conveyed by Hermia, are central to Shakespeares position that true love is more powerful than any authoritarian figure or love potion. As You Like It portrays another example of Shakespeares vision of true love. The way in which Rosalind and Orlando meet and fall in love is conventional — Rosalind falls in love with Orlando through his manly labors and good looks at his wrestling match with Charles.
Sir, you have wrestled well, and overthrown more than your enemies (I, ii, 234-235). However, a new dimension is added to the play by Rosalind’s disguise as Ganymede and her suggestion that Orlando pretend to court her. Rosalind charms the reader with the depth of her true love forOrlando. Shakespeare portrays Rosalinds love both seriously and comically, through the quickness of her wit and her sense of humor when dealing with Orlando.
As You Like It conveys Shakespeares belief that true love does exist in human love through a bizarre tale of unconditional love. Twelfth Night portrays Shakespeares notion that true love will overcome all adversity. Shakespeare masks the identity of Viola, but contrary to the character of Rosalind, Viola finds herself caught between being in love, and being the love of Olivia. The concealing of the identity of Viola challenges her to honor her true loves love for Olivia, a loyalty she even agrees to die for.
Shakespeare uses the self-sacrifice of Viola to state the extent to which one would go for true love. Through these three comedic plays, filled with quirky characters, and peculiar circumstances Shakespeares stand in the debate over human love is clear. Shakespeare was a romantic, who saw romance in even the most bizarre of characters. Through the deception of ones gender, and the creation of a love potion, Shakespeare goes into the depths of our imagination to convey the extent to which true love can affect an individual.