I've said it before and I'll say it again, I notice something different every time I flip through one of the plays. This time it is Midsummer, right at the beginning. I know that Lysander is pleading his case for Hermia, and argues that Demetrius could have Helena instead. What I don't think I ever noticed, though, is what he says:
Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
And won her soul;
Maybe I'm not fully up on my terminology, but are we supposed to believe that Demetrius actually slept with Helena, and now has completely lost interest in her? We're not talking about modern times where a girl will go on a daytime talk show with 15 guys who might be the baby daddy. You'd think that one guy just blurting out "Yeah, he slept with her and they're not married" would be a big deal, wouldn't it? On top of that, Theseus basically says, "Yeah, I'd heard that too." How does Helena not come off looking like a big slut?
But maybe I'm overinterpreting, and maybe "made love" really is supposed to mean something more along the lines of "showered with attention and gifts and tokens of affection, and generally made her believe that he loved her." That's always how I'd interpreted it, without close scrutiny of the exact words. That seems a bit more forgivable.
So which is it? Is Demetrius just a typical young man who only wants what he can't have? Or is he a scoundrel who takes advantage of women and casts them aside?
[I suppose there is also the third option that he's talking about a different Helena here - let some random girl we don't get to meet play the role of town slut - but that would be strangely and unnecessarily confusing.]