What Is A Midsummers Night Dream About?

A Midsummers Night Dream Story

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream weaves together three separate plots, all linked by the wedding celebration of Theseus, the Duke of Athens and his bride Hippolyta, the Amazon queen. The wedding is set concurrently in the forest and under the moonlight in the world of Fairyland. A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens with Hermia refusing to listen to her father Egeus’ order to marry the husband he has selected for her, Demetrius. Instead, Hermia wants to marry a different man, Lysander. Her father reacts by citing an ancient law that requires a daughter to marry the man selected by her father. If she refuses, she will be put to death. Theseus provides Hermia with an alternative: to live a life of chastity as a nun in the service of Diana, the goddess.

Meanwhile, Peter Quince has assembled with his group of craftsmen to put on a performance of “the most lamentable comedy and the cruelest death of Pyramus and Thisbe” for Theseus and Hippolyta. Peter Quince relays the names of the play’s characters and gives them to the actors. Portraying the central character of Pyramus, Nick Bottom is overly excited and wishes to overshadow the rest as he suggests he portray the characters of Pyramus, the Lion, and Thisbe, simultaneously. Bottom would also prefer to be an oppressor, reciting some of Ercles’ lines. The group’s meeting ends when Quince advises the actors that they will meet at the Duke’s oak tree.

In the meantime, the king of fairies, Oberon, has come to the woodland outside Athens with his wife, Titania. The queen of the fairies tells Oberon that she intends to stay until the Duke’s wedding to Hippolyta. The king and queen of the fairies are at odds with one another because Oberon hoped to make Titania’s young Indian prince a knight, but Titania refused his request. The prince was given to Titania by his mother, a worshipper of the queen of the fairies. Oberon wants to reprimand his wife for her defiance, so the king of the fairies sends Puck, his court jester, to obtain a magical flower. This flower produces a juice that, when smeared on the eyelids of a person as they sleep, will cause the person to fall in love with the first thing they see when they wake. Oberon plans to use the flower to trick Titania into falling in love with some woodland creature, intending to humiliate her. Ultimately, he hopes Titania will be convinced to hand over her young prince.

Meanwhile, Hermia has run away with Lysander to the forest with intentions of eloping. Helena, who is hoping to regain Demetrius’s affection, informs Demetrius of Hermia’s plan, and Demetrius follows the lovers, intending to kill Lysander. All the while, Helena persists on attempting to win over Demetrius, swearing that she will be better to him than Hermia. Demetrius, however, rejects Helena with harsh insults. Seeing this, Oberon instructs Puck to apply the flower’s juice to Demetrius’s eyes. Never having seen Demetrius or Lysander, Puck mistakenly applies the juice to Lysander. Lysander is then woken by Helena, and he instantly falls in love with her.

When Oberon sees that Demetrius is still pursuing Hermia he becomes infuriated. When Demetrius falls asleep, Oberon instructs Puck to locate Helena and he places the magical juice over Demetrius’s eyes. When he wakes up and sees Helena he falls in love with her, just as Lysander did before him. Despite the fact that both men are now pursing her, Helena does not believe they are sincere, and thinks they are poking fun at her. Hermia, meanwhile, is perplexed as to why Lysander has left her, and blames Helena for taking him from her. The lovers all begin to argue until Demetrius and Lysander decide to find a place where they can duel to show who loves Helena the most. Oberon advises Puck to keep the two men apart, and to remove the spell from Lysander’s eyes so that he will love Hermia again. Demetrius, however, goes on loving Helena.

In the meantime, Peter Quince and his crew have assembled to present their performance of Pyramus and Thisbe for the Duke’s wedding celebration, and they enter the forest to rehearse. When Puck sees Nick Bottom, he transforms the craftsman’s head into the head of a donkey. When Bottom comes back to rehearsal, the others run away, terrified at his appearance. Yet, Bottom is unaware of his transformation, and is bewildered by their reaction. He decides to wait around for his friends, and starts to sing. Awoken by his song, Titania sees Bottom and falls in love with him. She begins to shower him with love and attention. Oberon, seeing her in this condition, takes Titania’s Indian prince. He then frees Titania from the spell and instructs Puck to transform Bottom back to his normal appearance. Oberon makes certain that the lovers Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius will think they were dreaming when they wake up.

Once the fairies depart, Theseus and Hippolyta arrive in the forest and find the lovers. The four lovers wake up, and since Demetrius is now in love with Helena, Theseus decrees that Hermia does not need to marry Demetrius. The lovers believe that the previous night was a dream, as does Bottom, once he awakens. In Athens, the craftsmen perform Pyramus and Thisbe for Hippolyta, Theseus and the four lovers. Considering their poor preparation, the entertainers perform so badly that everyone in the audience laughs as though the play were a comedy. Following the play, everybody goes to bed, and Oberon, Titania, along with Puck and the other fairies, arrive and offer a blessing of good fortune to the house and the individuals inside. Once everyone departs, Puck advises the audience that what they just saw may really have been nothing more than a dream.

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