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My question is about a sentence that I read in one of criticism of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, it reads as follows:

The relationship between Helena and Hermia is characterised by sisterhood, to the extent that they see themselves as a "double-cherry." A similar relationship existed between Titania and the mother of the Indian boy,...

What is the meaning of double-cherry here.

I have tried looking online and the closest meaning I could find is from urban dictionary which states, double-cherry can mean a lesbian in online-chat terminology. This meaning fits nowhere in a Shakespearean commentary.

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In Act III, scene ii, Helena compares her friendship to Hermia like two joined cherries that grow from the same stem. She means that they are like sisters, even though they aren’t really sisters. At this moment in the play, Helena thinks that Hermia and the boys are making fun of her, and she feels hurt. She’s trying to show Hermia how hurt she is.

As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition;
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;

A double cherry - one stem

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  • Wonderfully explained. Is this colloquial meaning for the expression double-cherry stated elsewhere in English Literature, or is this a citation from any popular criticism of this play? – TheDProgrammer Aug 19 '18 at 20:22
  • "Two lovely berries molded on one stem" describes a rather common occurrence in the natural world. It's not the same branch, as you say, but the same stem. See this picture for an example. – Robusto Aug 19 '18 at 20:26
  • Essentially the same meaning as the other English idiom like peas in a pod. – Will Crawford Aug 19 '18 at 23:10
  • Not really very much like "like peas in a pod". That just means 'strikingly similar in appearance', whereas the double cherry is a fusion of two cherries into one single fruit, and the simile using it conveys a much stronger idea. – Michael Harvey Aug 20 '18 at 21:40
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I am a little confused as to why you immediately ruled out the possibility of these two women who seem closer than friends having experienced a sexual relationship or at least experimented with each other. Shakespeare plays are full of double entendres, and midsummer night's dream is about sex.

We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
Had been incorporate.

Two becoming one can be easily read as a sexual interaction not to mention the double meanings of needles, flowers, cushions and warbling voices. Shakespeare wrote about gay male characters in several other plays, most notably Troilus and Cressida, and even wrote sonnets to men himself as well as women. Why would it be unreasonable to think he is implying a sexual relationship between two women?

On a negative note, though, it is possible that Helena may be intentionally trying to embarrass Hermia by essentially announcing the depth of their relationship to her current love interest.

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