The Meaning of “Love Looks Not With The Eyes, But With The Mind”

Do you love Shakespeare but have always wanted to understand it a bit better? Shakespeare is, and always has been, a staple of English literature – and probably always will be.

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“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

This means that it shouldn’t matter what a person looks like, you love them for their personality and what’s inside. The quote is said in jealousy, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Helena because Demetrius thinks that Hermia is more beautiful than Helena and has been swayed by her beauty. Helena thinks that Demetrius should love her for who she is and keep his promises to her rather than loving Hermia for her beauty.

Love does not look with reason (with the “eyes”) but with the imagination (“the mind”) It is recognition that love is irrational

Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind.
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgment taste—
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.

The idea that love is irrational–that it “looks not with the eyes but with the mind”–underscores the play’s theme that to be in love is to be in a state similar to a dream, where normalcy is displaced by the fanciful and the bizarre, that love, in fact, may be a form of madness.