Monday, January 31, 2011

Illusions of Love

Have you ever been in love? Do you think it's really true that love makes you blind and unable to see things clearly as they really are? Well, it would seem that Shakespeare had a few things to say on this topic, especially in his play "A Midsummer Night's Dream". There is a prevalent theme of impaired judgment while in love. At the beginning of the play he warns us, "Nor hath Love's mind of any judgment taste". As we talked about in class, comedies usually involve a venturing into the forest or "greed world" where the characters undergo a transformation or metamorphosis of sorts (if you want a scholarly reference for this idea, click here to view article). The characters of this play go out into the forest and there they experience a series of spells, which make them love sick and this is their transformation.

So, what is it that makes us so unreasonable while in love? I guess I'm not much of a romantic, but as I thought about this idea of metamorphosis my mind went straight to the biological explanation. It's pretty much common knowledge that the feelings of attachment and longing that come with being in love are a result of dopamine flooding the brain (
click here to view website). In a class I took about marriage and relationships my professor said, in terms of impaired judgment, "Alcohol's got nothin on dopamine." So, if you let this love potion be representative of a brain chemical, it's no wonder that our characters are acting so irrational. As Helena says, "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind."

If you look at things from this perspective, yes, it may shatter your illusions of love. But it could also help you to use better judgment in the future. And then when reading this play you may resonate a bit more with the words of Puck: "what fools these mortals be!"