I am your spaniel

Helena's "orgy of self-abasement" (Boehrer 1994: 130) as she begs Demetrius to love her finds its expression in masochism and bestiality:

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.
What worser place can I beg in your love, —
And yet a place of high respect with me, —
Than to be used as you use your dog? (II i 203-10)

Helena wishes to be owned by Demetrius as a man owns his dog, she wishes away her humanity and her individuality, she wishes away her self to become an appendage to her lover. If individuality and self are particularily human qualities, we could argue that by seeing herself as a spaniel or a bear (as she describes herself in II ii 93), she wishes to take a passive role, that traditionally assigned to women.

Demetrius' eventual marriage to Helena comments further upon what it means to use a person "as you use your dog," for it is this very marriage that consummates Helena's erotic wishes and rewards her abject fidelity. (Boehrer 1994: 130) After Helena and Hermia are coupled with their true loves, and their marriages are certain, the two women remain silesnt, aquiescing to the patriarchal hierarchy of society.