What Makes and Breaks a Good Relationship?

          Are you in a situation where one of your relationships isn’t working out and you just don’t know why? William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream answers your question. In this story, four Athenians escape into a forest in pursuit of love. When love becomes intertwined with magic, the lovers face complicated situations which they later mistake for dreams. By comparing Hermia’s relationship with her boyfriend, Lysander, and her father, Egeus, we see that empathy and good communication makes a strong relationship. Without it, your relationship can lead to misunderstandings and arguments that act as hard obstacles to overcome. 

          Lysander and Hermia show us that empathy plays a big role in relationships. If you understand your partner’s feelings and values, communication becomes much easier. Lysander believes love is “brief as the lightning in the collied night” (1.1.147). Hermia holds a different view, believing that love grows slowly and patiently from a small spark. When Lysander wants to have “one turf [to] serve as pillow for [them] both”, Hermia kindly asks him to sleep elsewhere (2.2.47). Although Lysander does not want that, he shows empathy and understanding towards her values by following her wishes. Because they both understand each other, they communicate much better and reach solutions without argument. 

          Unlike Hermia’s relationship with Lysander, her relationship with Egeus demonstrates how a lack of empathy and communication leads to damaged relationships. Egeus and Hermia’s wants conflict, which causes a relationship barrier between them. Egeus wants his daughter to marry Demetrius, whereas Hermia wants her father to give her permission to marry Lysander. They both disagree with each other, so Hermia asks “[her] father [to look] with [her] eyes,” and see things from her point of view (1.1.58). Egeus refuses to empathize and consider how Hermia feels, and selfishly forces his decision on her. As a result, Hermia runs away with Lysander. This shows that you should consider how your actions affect those around you, because sometimes, you do not realize the effects until it is too late. 

          William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream teaches us a lot about relationships. One of the most important lessons is to work with, not against, your partner. This includes honest communication when an obstacle arises, and understanding your partner’s values and reasons. Comparing Hermia’s relationship with her father and her boyfriend provides evidence for this. This knowledge is useful because it allows you to step back and analyze obstacles in your relationships. You can now think about why the problem arose, and how to responsibly solve it. Based off A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you should always put yourself in your partner’s shoes and analyze their view of the situation. You should also have a heart to heart conversation with them, to see if you can clear things up in a responsible and adult manner. 


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