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A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens with Theseus and Hippolyta planning their wedding, which takes place in four days.
Egeus enters with his daughter, Hermia, and her two suitors, Lysander and Demetrius. Hermia is in love with Lysander, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius. He declares that if Hermia won’t marry Demetrius, she will die. Lysander and Hermia decide to escape to Athens. Helena is in love with Demeterius. Hermia and Lysander then tell Helena about their plan to leave. In a last effort to gain Demetrius’ love, Helena decides to tell him of this plot.
Peter Quince is directing a group of amateur actors to perform “Pyramus and Thisbe” for Theseus’ wedding. Nick Bottom, a terrible actor, is given the lead role.
Fairy Queen Titania and Fairy King Oberon are arguing because Titania refuses to give Oberon custody of the Indian boy she is raising. Oberon sends Puck, his trouble-making jester, out to find a plant called love-in-idleness, the juice of which makes any person dote on the next creature he or she sees.
Taking pity on Helena for the terrible way Demetrius is treating her, Oberon instructs Puck to put some love juice in Demetrius’ eyes at a moment when Helena will be the first person he sees upon waking. Mistaking Lysander for the Demetrius Puck puts love juice in Lysander’s eyes. Still in pursuit of Demetrius, Helena wanders past and awakens the sleeping Lysander; he immediately falls in love with her.
When Titania falls asleep, Oberon squeezes the love juice in her eyes.
Puck, appalled by the awful acting of Bottom, gives him a donkey-head. Bottom is unaware of the transformation and walks through the woods, waking Titania who immediately falls in love with him. Titania willingly releases the Indian boy to Oberon because she only has eyes for Bottom. Oberon’s plan is now complete so he releases her from the spell and has Puck remove the donkey-head from Bottom.
Both Lysander and Demetrius are in love with Helena. Before a serious fight breaks out between Demetrius and Lysander, Oberon has Puck create a fog that will keep the lovers from finding one another. While they are sleeping, Puck reverses the spell on Lysander. He also casts a spell so none of the lovers will remember what has happened in the woods. “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
In the final scene, the joyous lovers enter, and Theseus decides it is time to plan the festivities for the evening and chooses to see “Pyramus and Thisbe” performed. The players finally present their hilarious play.
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Sculptures by Jason RameyDecember 10, 2018 – January 11, 2019
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Theseus, duke of Athens, is
preparing for his marriage to Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, with
a four-day festival of pomp and entertainment. He commissions his Master
of the Revels, Philostrate, to find suitable amusements for the
occasion. Egeus, an Athenian nobleman, marches into Theseus’s court
with his daughter, Hermia, and two young men, Demetrius and Lysander.
Egeus wishes Hermia to marry Demetrius (who loves Hermia), but Hermia
is in love with Lysander and refuses to comply. Egeus asks for the
full penalty of law to fall on Hermia’s head if she flouts her father’s
will. Theseus gives Hermia until his wedding to consider her options,
warning her that disobeying her father’s wishes could result in
her being sent to a convent or even executed. Nonetheless, Hermia
and Lysander plan to escape Athens the following night and marry
in the house of Lysander’s aunt, some seven leagues distant from
the city. They make their intentions known to Hermia’s friend Helena,
who was once engaged to Demetrius and still loves him even though
he jilted her after meeting Hermia. Hoping to regain his love, Helena
tells Demetrius of the elopement that Hermia and Lysander have planned.
At the appointed time, Demetrius stalks into the woods after his
intended bride and her lover; Helena follows behind him.
In these same woods are two very different groups of characters. The
first is a band of fairies, including Oberon, the fairy king, and Titania,
his queen, who has recently returned from India to bless the marriage
of Theseus and Hippolyta. The second is a band of Athenian craftsmen
rehearsing a play that they hope to perform for the duke and his
bride. Oberon and Titania are at odds over a young Indian prince
given to Titania by the prince’s mother; the boy is so beautiful
that Oberon wishes to make him a knight, but Titania refuses. Seeking
revenge, Oberon sends his merry servant, Puck, to acquire a magical
flower, the juice of which can be spread over a sleeping person’s
eyelids to make that person fall in love with the first thing he
or she sees upon waking. Puck obtains the flower, and Oberon tells
him of his plan to spread its juice on the sleeping Titania’s eyelids.
Having seen Demetrius act cruelly toward Helena, he orders Puck
to spread some of the juice on the eyelids of the young Athenian
man. Puck encounters Lysander and Hermia; thinking that Lysander
is the Athenian of whom Oberon spoke, Puck afflicts him with the
love potion. Lysander happens to see Helena upon awaking and falls
deeply in love with her, abandoning Hermia. As the night progresses
and Puck attempts to undo his mistake, both Lysander and Demetrius
end up in love with Helena, who believes that they are mocking her.
Hermia becomes so jealous that she tries to challenge Helena to
a fight. Demetrius and Lysander nearly do fight over Helena’s love,
but Puck confuses them by mimicking their voices, leading them apart
until they are lost separately in the forest.
When Titania wakes, the first creature she sees is Bottom,
the most ridiculous of the Athenian craftsmen, whose head Puck has mockingly
transformed into that of an ass. Titania passes a ludicrous interlude
doting on the ass-headed weaver. Eventually, Oberon obtains the
Indian boy, Puck spreads the love potion on Lysander’s eyelids,
and by morning all is well. Theseus and Hippolyta discover the sleeping
lovers in the forest and take them back to Athens to be married—Demetrius
now loves Helena, and Lysander now loves Hermia. After the group
wedding, the lovers watch Bottom and his fellow craftsmen perform
their play, a fumbling, hilarious version of the story of Pyramus
and Thisbe. When the play is completed, the lovers go to bed; the
fairies briefly emerge to bless the sleeping couples with a protective
charm and then disappear. Only Puck remains, to ask the audience
for its forgiveness and approval and to urge it to remember the
play as though it had all been a dream.
Take the Plot Overview Quick Quiz
Act I, scene i
- No Fear A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Character List
- Puck: Character Analysis
- Plot Analysis
- Is Love More Important than Friendship?
- Quotes by Theme
- Review Quiz
From the SparkNotes Blog
Elodie and Chelsea Dagger