But my favorite riddle in the play is the moment when Helena, who loves Demetrius, improbably tells him:
I am your spaniel, and Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.
Use me but as your spaniel; spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me, only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
Teachers ignore this comment; actors and directors play it off for absurd laughs. But what happens if, in this play about consent, we were to take Helena at her word? What if that moment is, in fact, the most candid and uncensored declaration of sexual consent in the play?