The Dream Unfolds
Close your eyes and imagine
yourself floating back in time to Athens. Here the Duke, Theseus, is preparing for his wedding to Hippolyta,
Queen of the Amazons. Theseus is looking forward to his wedding day...and night!
1) ...four happy days
bring in another moon -- but O, methinks, how slow this old moon wanes!
Hippolyta, on the other
hand, is not thrilled with the prospect of marrying Theseus. So, Theseus decides to send Philostrate, Master of the Revels,
to 'stir up the Athenian youth to merriments' in hopes that a good party will put Hippolyta in the marrying mood. He tries
to sweet talk her by saying:
2) Hippolyta, I wooed
thee with my sword, and won thy love doing thee injuries; but I will wed thee in another key, with pomp, with triumph, and
Hippolyta doesn't have
a chance to answer, because Egeus enters with his daughter, Hermia, and the two men who wish to marry her.
3) Full of vexation come
I, with complaint against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Egeus wants Hermia to
marry Demetrius, but she wants to marry Lysander. Egeus believes that Lysander has 'bewitched' Hermia. So, instead of getting
rid of the so-called problem (Lysander), Egeus gives his daughter a choice:
4) I beg the ancient privilege
of Athens; as she is mine, I may dispose of her; which shall
be either to this gentleman or to her death, according to our law...
Thinking that death is
a little EXTREME, Theseus tries to convince Hermia to obey her father and marry Demetrius. She responds by asking:
5) I beseech your grace
that I may know the worst that may befall me in this case if I refuse to wed Demetrius.
Theseus adds a third choice
to Egeus' unpleasant list: marry Demetrius, be put to death, or remain a virgin for the rest of your life by becoming a nun.
She continues to refuse Demetrius, saying:
6) So will I grow, so
live, so die, my lord, ere I will yield my virgin patent up unto his lordship...
Seeing that Hermia is
very upset, Theseus tells her to take a few days to think about it. She will have to make her final decision on his wedding
day. Lysander tries to argue his case -- not only is he as 'well-possessed' as Demetrius, but he is 'beloved of beauteous
Hermia.' Seeing this as his chance to make some points, Lysander adds:
7) Demetrius, I'll avouch
it to his head, made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena, and won her soul...
Even though Theseus has
heard these rumors, he still feels that Hermia should obey her father. He leaves with Hippolyta, Egeus, and Demetrius, to
discuss some wedding business. Alone, Lysander and Hermia discuss their situation, and the plight of all lovers. Lysander
sums it up with:
8) The course of true
love never did run smooth...
Finally, Lysander comes
up with a plan -- the two crazy kids decide to meet the next night in the woods to run off and elope! Suddenly, Helena enters, and Hermia quickly changes the subject:
9) God speed, fair Helena! Whither away?
Well, Helena isn't too sure about this whole 'fair' business -- considering Hermia stole her boyfriend!
Helena asks Hermia to teach her how to 'sway the motion of
Demetrius' heart.' Hermia assures Helena that she has done
nothing to lead Demetrius on. Helena, on the other hand, has
done everything to get him to notice her, but nothing has worked. Hermia, in an effort to convince Helena
that she doesn't like Demetrius, tells Helena that she and
Lysander are running away. Lysander tells Helena that he and
Hermia plan on eloping. The two love birds wish Helena luck
and leave. Alone, Helena says:
10) How happy some o'er
other some can be!
She reflects on the nature
of love a bit, and then decides to fight for her man!
11) I will go tell him
of fair Hermia's flight...
She thinks that ratting
on her friend will win her some brownie points with Demetrius. She leaves to find her love.
Elsewhere in Athens, a group of working men (also known as the Mechanicals) meet to
prepare a play for the Duke's wedding. The group is lead by Quince the Carpenter. The other group members include Bottom the
Weaver, Snug the Joiner, Flute the Bellows-mender, Snout the Tinker, and Starveling the Tailor. Quince tells the others that
the play is:
12) 'The most lamentable
comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.'
He has assigned the role
of Pyramus to Bottom. Bottom sees this as an opportunity to take center stage, and he begins acting. Quince tries to assign
all the parts, but Bottom keeps interrupting. Bottom seems to think he can play ALL the parts! Quince is finally able to hand
out the parts to the other actors, and he tells the group to memorize their lines and meet at the 'Duke's oak' the next night.
Meanwhile, in the woods
outside of Athens, two fairies meet. Puck, or Robin Goodfellow,
is a loyal subject of King Oberon, and he warns the Queen's fairy that:
13) Oberon is passing
fell and wrath, because that she as her attendant hath a lovely boy stol'n from an Indian king...
It seems that Oberon wants
the Indian boy for himself, but since Titania won't give up the child, the two are constantly arguing. The Queen's fairy recognizes
Puck, and so Puck starts bragging about all the tricks he has pulled on humans and animals. Just at that moment, the King,
Oberon, and Queen, Titania, enter into the clearing.
14) Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania!
15) What, jealous Oberon?
Well, seeing that this
is not going to be a pleasant meeting, all the fairies run and hide in the bushes. Titania accuses Oberon of being attracted
to the mortal, Hippolyta. Oberon, in turn, accuses her of being in love with Theseus. Titania calls these accusations the
'forgeries of jealousy,' and she describes to Oberon how their arguments have caused the seasons to change. He tells her that
she can restore the natural order of things if she simply gives him the 'changeling boy.'
16) Set your heart at
rest -- the fairy land buys not the child of me!
Titania explains how the
boy's mother had been her dear friend, and that she died during childbirth. Titania says that she will never part with the
boy, and she storms away with her fairies. Seeing that she is serious, Oberon promises to be revenged 'for this injury.' He
calls Puck out from hiding, and tells Puck to fetch the flower 'love-in-idleness.' Oberon wants the flower because:
17) The juice of it on
sleeping eyelids laid will make or man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees.
After Puck leaves to fetch
the flower, Oberon reveals a plan to use the flower's juice on Titania so that she will give him the Indian boy. When he hears
voices, Oberon makes himself invisible. Demetrius and Helena enter arguing. Demetrius shouts:
18) I love thee not, therefore
pursue me not.
Unfortunately for her,
Helena's plan didn't work as well as she had hoped. She throws
herself at Demetrius' feet proclaiming her undying love, but he won't have any of it. She continues to try and 'woo' him,
but he runs off into the woods in search of Hermia, and Helena
must chase after him. Oberon vows to help Helena, saying:
19) Ere he do leave this
grove thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek they love.
Puck returns with the
flower, and Oberon instructs him to use the love juice on the eye of the 'disdainful youth' that just left the clearing.
20) Thou shalt know the
man by the Athenian garments he hath on.
While Puck is searching
for Demetrius and Helena, Oberon plans on finding Titania!
Elsewhere in the woods,
Titania's fairies sing her to sleep. When she is asleep, Oberon sneaks in and squeezes the juice on Titania's eyes. He hopes
that she will:
21) Wake when some vile
thing is near!
He leaves as Lysander
and Hermia enter. They decide to go to sleep for the night -- since they are lost! So, not only did Lysander get them lost,
he also tries to sleep right by Hermia. She stands up for her modesty and makes him sleep 'further off.' The two sleep. Puck
enters and sees Lysander in his 'Athenian garments,' and mistakenly puts the juice in his eyes! He leaves to find Oberon.
Demetrius runs past. Helena can no longer keep up, so she
stops to rest. She sees Lysander on the ground and wakes him. Due to his love juice state, Lysander immediately falls in love
with Helena, saying:
22) And run through fire
I will for they sweet sake!
Lysander tells Helena that he repents the 'tedious minutes' he spent with Hermia, and
that he now loves her. Helena is not happy with Lysander's
23) Is't not enough, is't
not enough, young man, that I did never, no, nor never can deserve a sweet look from Demetrius' eye but you must flout my
She runs off, and Lysander
follows her. Hermia awakes from a nightmare and finds herself alone. She is certain that something horrible has happened to
Lysander, and so she runs off to try and find him.
After she leaves, the
Mechanicals enter to rehearse their play. Before Quince has a chance to start rehearsal, Bottom begins suggesting changes
for the script so that they won't fright the ladies. After settling on prologues to help explain the action, the Mechanicals
discuss how they are going to show moonlight and the wall in the play. They finally decide on having Snout play the wall and
Starveling play Moonshine. They begin rehearsing just as Puck enters:
24) What hempen homespuns
have we swaggering here so near the cradle of the Fairy Queen?
After watching the rehearsal,
Puck decides to play a trick on Bottom. Pyramus (Bottom) leaves to go check on a noise. When Flute, as Thisbe, finally gets
his line right, Bottom re-enters as Pyramus. He is surprised when all of his friends begin yelling 'O monstrous!' 'O strange!'
They run away because Puck has used his magic to put an ass head on Bottom! Bottom thinks his friends are messing with him,
so he shouts to Snout:
25) What do you see? You
see an ass head of your own, do you?
Bottom is so certain that
they are trying to make an 'ass' of him, that he decides to sing. He will prove to them that he isn't afraid! Of course, his
singing wakes Titania, and she, in her love juice state, immediately falls in love with him. She is so in love with Bottom
that she won't let him even think about leaving the woods. Instead, she calls four of her fairies (Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth,
and Mustardseed) to wait on Bottom.
26) Be kind and courteous
to this gentleman...
Bottom greets each of
the fairies, and then they lead him to Titania's 'bower.'
Puck can't wait to tell
Oberon about the new turn of events. Puck finds Oberon, and tells him about the trick he played on Bottom, and how, in that
27) Titania waked, and
straightway loved an ass.
Oberon is very pleased
. . . until Demetrius and Hermia enter. Demetrius tries to woo Hermia, but she is certain that he has killed Lysander. When
he won't tell her where Lysander is, Hermia runs off. Demetrius realizes that 'there is no following her in this fierce vein,'
so he decides to take a nap. Needless to say, Oberon is not a happy camper! He orders Puck to find Helena and bring her to Demetrius. Puck runs off to find Helena,
and Oberon puts the love juice on Demetrius' eyes. Puck runs in to tell Oberon that Helena
is on her way -- but she isn't alone. Puck is really enjoying the mess he has created, and says:
28) Lord, what fools these
Lysander enters with Helena. He tries to convince her that he really does love her, but Helena thinks he is just messing with her. When she stumbles on Demetrius,
he wakes and tells Helena how beautiful she is and how much
he loves her. By this point, Helena is really upset:
29) O spite! O Hell! I
see you all are bent to set against me for your merriment.
Off in the woods, Hermia
hears all the commotion, and follows the voices. When she spots Lysander, she runs to her love and asks him why he left her.
Lysander tells her that he hates her now and loves Helena.
Well, that was the finally straw for Helena. She is now certain
that they are all ganging up on her. Hermia doesn't quite understand what is going on; she runs after Lysander as he leaves
to fight Demetrius for Helena. She clings to him -- even as
he is telling her how much he now hates her. When Hermia finally gets the picture, she turns on Helena:
30) O me, you juggler,
you canker-blossom, you thief of love! What, have you come by night and stol'n my love's heart from him?
Hermia tries to fight
Helena, but the boys hold Hermia back. The boys finally leave
to settle their own dispute, Helena runs away, and Hermia
follows in bewilderment. Oberon demands that Puck fix his mess. So, Puck overcasts the night and disguises his voice to get
all of the lovers in the same spot. He puts them all to sleep, and puts the antidote on Lysander's eyes so he will love Hermia
again. Puck then leaves to find Oberon.
In another part of the
wood, Titania and her fairies are pampering Bottom as Oberon watches. Titania finally tells her fairies to go away so that
she and Bottom can go to bed. Puck enters, and Oberon tells Puck that he now has the Indian boy, so he will release Titania
from this curse. He orders Puck to remove the 'head of this Athenian swain' so that:
31) All to Athens back again repair, and think no more of this night's accidents
but as the fierce vexation of a dream.
Oberon removes the spell
from Titania. She wakes and wonders:
32) How it came this night
that I sleeping here was found with these mortals on the ground.
All the fairies leave,
and as day breaks, Theseus, Hippolyta, Egeus, and their hunting party enter. They see the lovers on the ground and wake them.
Lysander tries to explain the situation, and Egeus is furious that Lysander and Hermia were going to elope. Egeus wants Lysander
punished. After Demetrius explains that he really loves Helena,
Theseus decides that the lovers will be married along with himself and Hippolyta. After the hunting party leaves, Demetrius
33) It seems to me that
yet we sleep, we dream.
The lovers don't know
what to think about the night's events. They head back to town to get married! Bottom wakes up, and describes his dream! He
also heads back to town to find his friends and get ready for the play.
After the weddings, the
whole group gathers at the Palace to watch the play. They make fun of the play and the actors. When the play is over, everyone
heads off to bed. Oberon and Titania enter with their fairies to bless the three couples. As the fairies leave to bless the
marriage beds, Puck says:
34) If we shadows have
offended, think but this, and all is mended: that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear; and this weak
and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream!