Topic Tracking: 2
Act I, Scenes 1-2: "Athens, A hall in the
palace of Theseus" & "A room in Quince's
house in Athens"
The title holds the word "dream," inferring
that the play will be either a dream or will talk about dreams. The interpretation is up to the audience member or reader.
However, the title foreshadows so many events that occur in the play and also subconsciously sets a mood before the first
line is even uttered.
Jealousy 1: This first hint of jealousy
is seen as Egeus claims to Theseus that Demetrius has stolen Hermia's obedience and love. He is slightly jealous of the new
man in his daughter's life. This father/daughter jealousy is of course natural, but is taken to extremes is the play. It is
also just one type of jealousy explored in the five acts.
Jealousy 2: Helena
is deeply in love with Demetrius, who is in love with Hermia. Therefore, Helena
is jealous of Hermia's beauty and she claims that she too is as beautiful. She wonders what Hermia has that she doesn't that
makes men follow her everywhere. So, out of jealousy, Helena tells Demetrius that
Hermia and Lysander plan to escape to the woods so that he will follow them and she will follow him.
Love's Foolishness 1: The mockery made
of love in this play is evident from the first scene until the last. The play opens as a wedding is supposed to take place,
the realization of a holy union of bliss. However, that union is interrupted by a plea from outside. The very fact that the
symbol of love, a wedding, begins the play, but never truly takes place sets a precedent for the illustration of the foolishness
of love for the rest of the play.
Love's Foolishness 2: Young Helena is unabashedly
in love with Demetrius, a man who not only despises her, but is in love with her close friend, Hermia. The roles seem to reverse
in this "couple," for Helena is the person who pursues an unwieldy Demetrius,
while he chases another. This is a game of cat and mouse. These characters have turned love into a game.
Love's Foolishness 3: This time, love is
mocked in a play within a play. The commoners (and comic relief of this Shakespearean play) decide to put on the lamentable
tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe, a great love story. They torture it to laughter by selecting it as their drama to enact, and
they inadvertently mock the ideal of love by assigning the parts randomly. This theme will be revisited in Act 5.
Act II, Scenes 1-2: "Night, A wood near
Athens" & "Another part of the wood"
Dreams 2: As Oberon explains the nature
of the magic flower juice, he mentions that it must be placed upon sleeping eyelids. Dreams come to life during sleep. So,
the magic juice works in collaboration with dreams and only works when the person is asleep, perhaps dreaming or perhaps awaking
to a new dream.
Dreams 3: This is the first placement of
the magic juice on sleeping eyelids. Oberon uses the flower juice on Titania to play a trick on her/teach her a lesson. He
whispers into her sleeping ears that when she wakes, she will fall in love with something vile. She is sleeping as he whispers
so his words could be heard in a dream.
Dreams 4: Hermia and Lysander slow down
so that they may sleep for the night. However, they sleep separately, cueing Puck and perhaps separating their possible dreams.
Hermia sleeps far from Lysander because her chastity as a maid is important.
Dreams 5: Puck has placed the magic juice
in Lysander's eyes, so when Helena spots him on the ground, she wakes him up for
fear of death or injury. He is sleeping and awakens in love with Helena, entering
a new dream, a new fantasy. He has transformed his feelings in his dream.
Dreams 6: Hermia awakens in the woods,
alone, looking for her beloved Lysander. She has had a horrible nightmare and wants Lysander to comfort her. In her nightmare,
a serpent is eating her heart and Lysander sits "smiling at his cruel prey" Act 2, Scene 2, line 150. She is frightened and
alone. Her nightmare foreshadows the treatment she will soon receive from Lysander.
4: Titania and Oberon enter, enraged with
one another although supposedly in love. Their image in the play is of a fairy couple who currently hates each other. They
discuss supposed loves each has with other people, minimizing the love they have together.
Love's Foolishness 5: Helena
woos Demetrius harshly, unrelenting to his cruel treatment of her. She states that men are meant to woo women, not women to
men. This reversal of identities in Shakespeare's time is slightly absurd and foolish.
Love's Foolishness 6: Oberon places the
magic juice on Titania's eyes hoping that she will fall in love with "something vile" Act 2, Scene 2, lines 33-34. Enabling
this fairy queen to fall in love with a vile creature mocks the validity of love.
Love's Foolishness 7: Helena
cannot believe that these men love her. She believes that their love to her is a cruel joke, foolish treatment. She is upset
with Lysander for doting over her, for she simply does not nor cannot believe it to be true. Furthermore, the love that Lysander
at one point has for Hermia, suddenly transforms into adoration for Helena instantaneously
from the magic juice. A simple drop of juice can change love quickly and foolishly.
3: Oberon and Titania bicker over many
issues, including their supposed "other" loves and the possession of the little Indian boy. These arguments stem both from
jealousy. The fairy without the Indian boy is jealous of the other and will go to any length to get him back.
Jealousy 4: Helena,
again, is in bitter sentiment over her mistreatment from Demetrius. However, she is hurt not simply because he is rude and
mean to her, but because she is jealous of Hermia. She tells the audience that she is thought as beautiful as Hermia all through
Athens and cannot understand why Hermia gets the attention of her beloved Demetrius.
This jealousy translates into her perpetual chase after Demetrius.
1: Puck is introduced, epitomizing the
very nature of magic in the play. He is a fairy with special powers to transform his voice and appearance so that he may "lurk
in gossip bowls" Act 2, Scene 1, line 47 and cause mischief. His conversation with the fairy is very magical and fantastical
and sets the scene for the rest of the play.
Magic 2: Titania's story of the origin
of the Indian boy is very fantastical in nature. She talks about magical events in nature and immortality. Immortality is
a magical characteristic that only the fairies possess.
Magic 3: Oberon tells Puck of the magic
flower juice that when placed on sleeping eyelids, makes that person fall in love with the first creature it sees upon awakening.
The flower is magical because it was hit by one of Cupid's arrows and now contains this fantastical love-transforming juice.
Magic 4: Oberon places the magic juice
on Titania's eyes to play a trick on her. Here, magic is used as a tool for him to get what he wants: the Indian boy.
Magic 5: When Lysander awakens, he falls
in love magically with Helena, fantastically forgetting Hermia. This transformation
is only due to the magic flower juice mistakenly placed on his eyelids by Puck. Because of this change, the rest of the lovers'
entangled plot grows and Lysander abandons Hermia to follow Helena
Act III, Scenes 1-2: "The same spot in the wood" & "Another part of the wood"
7: Titania wakes from her slumber to see
Bottom as a donkey and immediately falls in love with him. This amity is because of the magic juice placed on her during her
sleep. When she awakens, like the Athenians, she is entering another dreamlike state, an altered reality transformed from
Dreams 8: Oberon places the magic juice
on the sleeping eyes of Demetrius so that he will wake and fall in love with Helena.
This was the original plan confused by Puck that started the chaos in the woods.
Dreams 9: Oberon now makes sure that he
uses the sleeping-dream state to right all of these wrongs. He commands Puck to fix everything. Puck tricks the two men into
a slumber and places the magic juice on Lysander's eyes. The four lovers fall asleep together, in blissful harmony.
8: In the players' production of Pyramus
and Thisbe, they believe that a wall must physically separate the lovers. They assign the role of the wall to Snout a man,
loaning loads of laughter and comedy to the serious love story.
Love's Foolishness 9: The image of Titania
waking up to fall in love with the donkey-faced Bottom is pure mockery of the ideal of love. A beautiful fairy doting on and
seducing not only a common man, but an ass is foolish, funny, and fearful. How much more can love be made fun of?
Love's Foolishness 10: Seeing the spectacle
of the four Athenian lovers quarrel is humorous to the fairy Puck. He states in the most famous line from the play, "What
fools these mortals be!" Act 3, Scene 2, line 115 implying that their foolishness arises because of love. Love makes the mortals
act foolish and Puck notices it.
Love's Foolishness 11: This memorable scene
of the love quadrangle all entangled is hysterical and foolish. Each man keeps changing the woman he loves, and each woman
cannot believe the reality of the love proclaimed. Demetrius dotes on Helena, the woman he scorns, and Lysander abandons his
true love Hermia, to dote on Helena as well. The two even become foolish fighters
and prepare to duel for love. Furthermore, Helena and Hermia become foolish cat-fighters as well, all in the name of love.
When Lysander tells Hermia that he abandoned her in the middle of the night for Helena,
Hermia is enraged with jealousy. The words that come out of Lysander's mouth hit Hermia and injure her, building her jealousy
of Helena instead of building her frustration with Lysander.
Jealousy 6: The fights between both Lysander
and Demetrius and Hermia and Helena all have something to do with jealousy. Lysander and Demetrius are jealous of one another
and both want Helena, where they used to want Hermia. And Hermia and Helena fight
because Hermia is jealous of Helena as the reverse used to be true.
6: Puck sees the silly production of Pyramus
and Thisbe and plans to cause mischief. He follows Puck and transforms Bottom's head into that of a donkey. He has the magical
power to do so because he is a fairy. This transformation scares away the other players; however, Bottom is unaware of his
Magic 7: Puck tells Oberon of Titania's
new love, Bottom the ass. Oberon laughs at what happens because of the little magic juice. He asks about the Athenian couple
and Puck explains that he did place the magic juice on the man. This discussion is purely about the power of magic and what
changes it can make and trouble it can stir with love.
Magic 8: Puck is ordered to correct the
wrong done because of the magical mistakes. He uses his magical powers of voice transformation and invisibility to trick the
Athenian men into a slumber. He then places more magic juice in the eyes of Lysander in order to correct the wrongs.
Scenes 1-2: "The same portion of the wood"
& "Athens, A room in Quince's house"
Dreams 10: Oberon plans to return the fairy
world to normal, since he has already done so with the mortal world. He plans to awaken his Titania from her dreamlike trance
of being in love with Bottom, the ass. He plans to have the evening remembered "as the fierce vexation of a dream" Act 4,
Scene 1, lines 70-72. The king of the fairies plans to have the magic translated into dreams for those who experience it.
Dreams 11: Theseus, Hippolyta, and Egeus
see the four lovers sleeping in the woods peacefully. They are shocked at the happy slumber, and the play seems to have come
full circle as they wake up into their new happy world. They wake up from their magical dream in the woods to get married.
Dreams 12: Bottom returns to his players
in Athens with his normal head. He is recovering from his "dream," and tells his
players that he has had the most incredible dream and will write it into the play as "Bottom's Dream." Everything magical
seems to be explained through dreams.
7: Oberon decides that the trick has gone
far enough and will restore Titania to her normal self. Whether he is jealous of Bottom's position with her or not is unknown.
But, he does see her in love with another creature and then decides that the magic must end.
Jealousy 8: Oberon also decides that everything
will go back to normal with all creatures in the forest. He has possession of the Indian boy and that fact illustrates that
he is no longer jealous of Titania. Therefore, with his jealousy gone, everything is fine to go back to normal in the woods.
Jealousy 9: When Theseus sees the four
lovers sleeping peacefully together, he is shocked because he knows how much they all hate each other. He says that jealousy
is not far from hatred. This statement from Theseus resonates throughout the play and is illustrated through the characters'
behavior. When they are jealous, they act enraged and as if they hate each other.
9: Oberon rids Titania of the magic spell
and she awakens thinking she was dreaming. However, it was no dream that she "was enamored of an ass," Act 4, Scene 1, line
80 for everything is real and due to magic. Puck removes the donkey head from Bottom by magic, as well. Everything goes back
to normal, after everything has been mended because of the fairies and magic.
Magic 10: Theseus, Egeus, and Hippolyta
have trouble believing the stories of the four lovers, for they seem too fantastical. The magic of the woods cannot truly
reach Athens' credibility. However, Hippolyta believes them a little more than
the others for, although they all seem too magical to believe, they do correspond with one another.
Act V: "Athens, The great hall in the palace
13: Puck addresses the audience in the
closing lines of the play telling them that everything they have just seen is a dream. Every vision, every touch of magic
that was just enacted, he tells them, can all be explained by dreams and slumber.
14: The play concludes with the wedding
of Theseus and Hippolyta that was interrupted in the first act. However, this time, instead of focusing exclusively on the
beautiful union of one couple, the play allows a triple wedding to occur. This triple wedding takes away the importance of
each couple's love and diminishes its importance somewhat.
Jealousy exists in another form with Bottom. He loves attention and loves to speak. Therefore, he is jealous of stage time
and plans to take all of it that he can. He overacts, speaks too much, and dies an elongated stage-death, stealing scenes
from everyone on stage.
11: The play concludes with the fairies
singing and Puck addressing the audience. The ending is magical and leaves the audience with a fantastical sentiment. Their
mystical presence is magical as they bless the newlyweds.