In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helena is portrayed as a beautiful and jealous young lady who is deeply smitten with Demetrius.
Helena’s beauty is described a few times in the text. One example is this quote from lines 180, when Hermia greets her: “Godspeed, fair Helena!” Here, Hermia is praising Helena’s appearance by describing it as “fair”. Though Hermia may just be saying this to be polite, I do not believe Hermia would lie to Helena, who is her friend. A more definite example of Helena’s beauty is the fact that in line 277, Helena mentions that “through Athens I am thought as fair as she”, with “she” referring to Hermia. Hermia was attractive enough to catch the eye of two noble suitors, and is also praised multiple times throughout the scene for her fairness, so Helena must be good-looking as well if she is thought as Hermia’s equal. In addition, Helena recalls during her soliloquy in line 243 that Demetrius “hailed down oaths that he was only mine” before he had fallen for Hermia. Seeing how fickle Demetrius is, he must only be invested in the superficial traits of his objects of affection, like looks and wealth. Ergo, for Demetrius to make such vows to Helena (no matter how shallow those vows may be),s she must have been either very pretty (or rich). Despite her looks, she is still bested by Hermia, whom she feels great jealousy towards for (involuntarily) stealing Demetrius.
Helena’s jealousy towards Hermia for swaying Demetrius’s heart is extremely palpable throughout this scene. When greeted by Hermia and complimented as fair in line 181, Helena bitterly responds, “Call me ‘fair’? That ‘fair’ again unsay. Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!” Helena insists that her prettiness is insignificant compared to Hermia’s, at least in Demetrius’s eyes, and comments enviously on Hermia’s good fortune. Another instance of Helena yearning for Hermia’s good looks can be seen in lines 192 and 193, when Helena asks Hermia to “teach me how you look the way you do, and which tricks you used to Demetrius fall in love with you.” In this quote, Helena is admitting her desire for Hermia’s appearance by asking Hermia how she could look like her. Finally, her back-and-forth with Hermia from lines 194 to 201, in which Hermia laments Demetrius’s advances and Helena responds with her yearnings for his attentions, concludes with Helena wishing for Hermia’s beauty (“None, but your beauty! Would that fault were mine!”). Most of Helena’s envy stems from being abandoned by Demetrius, who she idolizes.
Helena’s infatuation with Demetrius is one of her largest defining characteristics and is arguably what sets the plot in motion, as if she had not told Demetrius of Hermia and Lysander’s planned escape, not all four of them would’ve ended up in the forest, where most of the plot unfolds. Even before she is introduced, Helena is already revealed to be Demetrius’s admirer in line 108 to line 110 by Lysander, who was attempting to convict Demetrius of unfaithfulness in order to justify Hermia’s rejection towards her suitor. He claims, “…[Helena], sweet lady, dotes, devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry upon this spotted and inconstant man.” Lysander emphasizes Helena’s affection by repeating the word “dotes” thrice. In fact, Helena’s affections are so great that she is willing to betray her friends for Demetrius’s love. The betrayal being referred to is when she divulges Hermia and Lysander’s plan to Demetrius. She confesses during her soliloquy in line 249 that “…if I have thanks, it is a dear expense.” While it does pain her to snitch on her friend, though the pain is assuaged by the joy of receiving Demetrius’s gratitude. Helena’s desire for Demetrius transcends her desire for everything else, as seen during her dialogue in lines 191 and 192, when she says to Hermia, “Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated, the rest I’d give to be you translated.”
While Helena comes of as a pretty and petty girl perpetually lusting after Demetrius, she actually is capable of coming up with very deep observations concerning love, as evidenced by her soliloquy. Her character is very interesting and it’s nice to see her get her own happy ending during the final events of the play.
In the Facebook profile I created for Helena, I included a picture of her, some basic information, a list of her friends (that I could discern from reading the text) and relevant plot points in the form of posts made on her wall. For her picture and most of the other’s, I used their photos from the 1999 film to save myself the hassle of having to find a selfie of a girl online that matches with Helena’s characterization. For the basic information, I put down her occupation (student, because I’m guessing she is young), city of residence (Monte Athena, in accordance with the film), relationship status (following the stereotype commonly seen in television shows that people who have recently gone through breakup gorge themselves on ice-cream, I facetiously selected a tub of gelato as Helena’s significant other to signify Demetrius’s abandonment of her), languages (English and Italian, as she speaks English but lives in Italy in the film), place of origin (still Monte Athena), and date of birth (April 26th, which is the same date as the film’s release), using images of Facebook profiles I found on Google as a basis for what to include. For her list of friends, I only included Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius, as the former two seemed to be affable during their conversation in the film and the latter because he was formerly betrothed to Helena. Finally, for the wall posts, I chose Helena, Hermia and Lysander’s May Day forest meetup, Helena’s breakup with Demetrius, a post in which Helena expresses her envy for Hermia, and a post in which Helena requests that Demetrius have a private message with her. The May Day meetup is included because while it does not say anything about Helena’s personality, it does establish that she, Hermia and Lysander are good friends, which is part of her character. In addition, it is also a relevant plot point as the meetup is referenced by Hermia when she plans her emancipation with Lysander in lines 166-168, which is a relevant plot point in itself. Helena’s breakup post was made to characterize her love towards Demetrius, as can be seen in Lysander’s comment on her lingering lust after Demetrius a week after their breakup. A breakup post also indicates that the person making the post actually cared for their former significant other, which is obviously true for Helena. The jealous post was included to characterize Helena’s envy towards Hermia. 2 quotes were put in the comments to accomplish this, both spoken by Helena. The first quote (from line 227) also characterizes Helena as beautiful, another one of her characteristics. Helena’s overly formal vocabulary in her comments are implied to be worded as such by Lysander’s jest because she is insecure around Hermia and feels the need to compensate for her beauty compared to Hermia’s. Her insecurity around Hermia is what her jealousy stems from, and is also definitely one of Helena’s traits. Lastly, the latest post concerning Helena’s request for a private conversation with Demetrius is intended to demonstrate her love for him, accomplished by the inclusion of the quote from lines 249 to 251. The plot point pertinent to the post is also one where Helena betrays her friends for Demetrius’s attention, which is an event that characterizes Helena as somebody who puts her love above her friends. Furthermore, Demetrius’s offhanded dismissal of her comment also serves to characterize Demetrius as little as somebody who couldn’t care less for Helena. In my opinion, while my Facebook profile could’ve had a few more quotes and pictures, it accomplishes the task of showing what kind of person Helena is.