O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!
Love takes the meaning in love’s conference.
I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit
So that but one heart we can make of it;
Two bosoms inter-chained with an oath;
So then two bosoms and a single troth.
The quote comes from act one of the play by William Shakespeare, ‘a Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The speaker of the words in the quote is Lysander, a man who wishes to marry Hermia because he is in love with her. However, Hermia’s father Egeus, a nobleman, wishes that her daughter be married to a man named Demetrius.
The quote’s first line is indicative of the receptive role that Lysander acts in the play. He does not form the conditions in which he has to live with. For example, it is by fate that he falls in love with Hermia, who is unable to marry in the open because of her father’s preference for Demetrius. Moreover, Lysander later on in the play is mistakenly made to love Helena after Robin Goodfellow, the puck rubs pansy juice in his eyes. Upon waking up, Lysander falls in love with Helena who thinks that love is a hoax. Furthermore, in act three- scene two of the play, Lysander has to quarrel with Demetrius when he finds out that they are in love with the same woman, Helena.
The sweetness of the innocence of Lysander is a reference to the nature of the dream that the author brings out in the play. As the play progresses, we observe that what is happening is only an imagination. The inclusion of a play within a play reinforces the fact that being a dream makes it nice because we can choose to interpret it in various ways; as a comedy, a tragedy, or any other way.
The second line is a reflection of the various instances in the play where characters act beyond what is imaginably normal just to please others or please their egos. The line brings out the role of the reader to be imaginative in reading out the whole play and interpreting the dream presented. For example, love makes Lysander quarrel with Demetrius without first thinking why all of sudden he is no longer in love with Hermia.
While it seemed crazy for Oberon to make Titania fall in love with Bottom, according to Titania, Bottom who has an Ass face is perfectly okay for her and she sees no difficulty in falling in love with him. Shakespeare uses the second line to emphasize the theme of the play that love is only true for the person experiencing love and that to interpret reality one has to accept the conditions presented by reality.
The third line, “I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit”, foreshadows how the play ends with the marriage of all the lovers. The line is also symbolic of true love in the play- that even though the lovers interchange their roles while in the forest, eventually they come back to being in love with their original lovers. Shakespeare uses the term ‘knit’ to show that individuals are responsible for their fate in the way they choose to interpret events. This theme also comes up in act five when the play “Pyramus and Thisbe: very tragical mirth’ is performed for Theseus and Hippolyta. Hippolyta does not enjoy the play and is disgusted because it seems to be so stupid and not worthy of her attention. On the other hand, Theseus immensely enjoys the same play saying that it is very imaginative.
The play is more about the anxiety of marriage than the marriage itself. Lysander’s words implying that his heart and his lover’s heart will become one are a symbol of the anxiety he has to marry Hermia. The anxiety makes him restless and drives him and his lover to the woods. In the same manner, the anxiety of the rustics and artisans as they prepare for the performance of their play, Pyramus and Thisbe, makes them rush to the woods. The anxiety presented in this quote echoes the super fictions of an immature mind that thinks anything is possible in their reality. Lysander thinks that it is possible to have one heart shared between his lover and him.
The use of the word ‘inter-chained’ is symbolic of the changing roles of the characters in the play, from becoming the most important to losing importance and vice versa. When the bottom is left in the woods for his apparent loss of importance, because Titania no longer loves him, he comes back to play a leading role in convincing the rustics and artisans not to lose hope. He informs them that there is still enough time even though Theseus, the duke, has already been married.
In the last line, the author foreshadows the ending of the play. He uses a confident tone to suggest that matters that were pending in the play and the mind of Lysander are finally resolved. The choice of words causes finality in the reader, killing the suspense of what is to happen next as Lysander finally gets to wed his lover. The last line is also figurative of the whole teaching of the essay. The author intends to inform readers that though there is an overall dilemma of whether the play is real or a dream, the final conviction is that the play represents one universal truth- that maturity is the key to understanding the phenomena of daily life.
The author has used words symbolic of unions to exemplify the process of thought in the interpretation of life events. The minor tragedies befalling characters in the play comes out because of having false interpretations of the other’s actions. Each character uses their thinking to interpret events. The quote demonstrates this fact by showing us how Lysander was thinking of his future, oblivious of what lay ahead, and the intentions of other characters in the play.
The symbolism of the marriage union has been repeated in the quoted lines. It demonstrates the author’s style of reminding readers of the message of the play. Dilemmas need to be refined to reach a conclusive resolution of one correct way. Repetition also brings the theme of dream versus reality that the author uses to make characters cope with their dilemmas, transforming the unexplainable into trivialities of dreams.
To sum up, the quote is reflective of the wishes of Lysander before his mind matures. It highlights the imagination of the character and echoes the theme of the play that imagination is key in the interpretation of the lessons presented in the play. Repletion of the symbol of marriage brings out the importance of resolving dualities that cause dilemmas in life. It also symbolizes the final resolve of the interchangeability of characters in the play that are not certain of their initial roles at the beginning of the play. Later on, characters find their purpose and understand their true selves.