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Helena, frequently called Helen, is one of the iconic four young lovers in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and is a very desperate and aroused woman. She is generally interpreted as being tall, slim and blonde - her best friend Hermia calls her a "painted maypole" during an argument. Although she does not see herself as attractive, she is just as pretty as Hermia. Helena comes from a rich family in Athens and, with regards to status, is towards the higher end of the social hierarchy.

Helena and Demetrius were previously a couple (engaged) Demetrius is known to not care about who he is with. He was first engaged to Helena, but was told to marry Hermia. He was fine with that, but Helena wasn't. She wishes to have his love again.

When Helena discovers that Hermia and her lover, Lysander, have planned to elope, she informs Demetrius in the hope that this will make him love her. However, her plan backfires when Demetrius insists on following them in the hope of winning Hermia's love. Eventually, all four lovers find themselves in the Athenianmarker forest, where the sleeping Lysander and Demetrius have a love juice sprinkled into their eyes by an errant fairy called Puck. This causes the pair to fall in love with the first person they see when they awaken; for both, this is Helena.

Demetrius and Lysander then begin to declare their love for Helena, and argue with each other over who should claim her affection. Helena, who has been used to being overlooked by men, believes that the pair are mocking her. Hermia comes, sees that her lover, Lysander, loves Helena, and immediately becomes jealous. This leads to an argument between Hermia and Helena, and Helena storms off.

When Demetrius and Lysander decide to rest again, Oberon, King of the Fairies, commands Puck to right the situation. This leads to Lysander falling in love with Hermia again, and eventually, to the marriage of Helena and Demetrius, who remains in love with her still due to the love juice Puck had sprinkled upon him. Nonetheless, Helena continues to love Demetrius as she always has.

Helena is considered to be a very vulnerable, sensitive and obsessive character, due to her growing up in the shadow of Hermia. However, Helena isn't very self-confident because of Demetrius: she shows strength and a new belief in herself by refusing his advances when she believes he is making fun of her, despite the fact that he claimed that she was his one true love. Helena can also be a humorous character at times, particularly during some of her desperate arguments with Demetrius. Overall, Helena is the character who changes most and for the better, changing from a self conscious, lovesick girl into a confident, happy woman.

Helena helps the audience understand key themes and motifs in the play such as the difficulty of love and contrast.


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