Comparing Love in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and Soyinka's Lion and the Jewel

Comparing Love in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and Soyinka's Lion and the Jewel

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“Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but Love. (Love’s Labours Lost.1.2.)” This Shakespearean quote relays on the fact that love can lead to many misfortunes, presented as one of the aspects of love in both William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and Wole Soyinka’s “The Lion and the Jewel”. One aspect of love demonstrates its brilliant sides, and with it, brings affection, faith, and intimacy. However, it is also noted that an equal aspect of love conveys the consequences and misfortunes. Both plays display the penalties of love as a contrast to the comedies. We will be discussing the exhibition of the negative connotations of love, broken down into several characteristics: lust, manipulation, and hatred, which both plays share in correspondence and in distinction.
Firstly, the portrayals of lust in the plays are very important, as this lust is what causes the much conflict in the plays. The lusts in both the plays are similar by the fact that it defines the love for another character regardless of anything. Seen by the readers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one is able to immediately tell that Helena is irrevocably in love with Demetrius, and that the exact opposite applies to Demetrius; he absolutely detests her. Though she is completely aware of such a fact, she nonetheless trails Demetrius aimlessly into the woods, knowing that only a miracle would bring them together. At which this time, Demetrius, thoroughly vexed, persistently disgraces and demeans Helena, but to which she responds with further lust and fondness. “Tempt me not the hatred of my soul, /For I am sick when I look on thee.” “And I am sick when I look not on thee.” (2.1.221-213). Similarily, in The Lion and the Jewel, Lakunle l...


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...tinctions, however, lay on the end result and as to how the hatred was concluded. Firstly, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the hatred was garnered by the interference of Oberon, and was also solved by Oberon, by using a magical flower’s juice to enchant them into love. He eventually dispels the hatred between the two men by removing the enchantment from one, so that the two pairs of lovers involved were happily married. The conclusion in The Lion and the Jewel is dissimilar to the other play. Here, instead of magic, reality is used. The war for Sidi is clearly won by Baroka, one of his competitors, which is “logical and right,” as he “presents himself more favorably” (Willis) compared to Lakunle. Therefore, the hatred is compared by the fact that both display a war for love between two males and one female, and that it contrasts by the way the hatred is dissoluted.

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