A Midsummer-Night S Dream Essay, Research Paper
A Midsummer-Night s Dream
In William Shakespeare s play A Midsummer-Night s Dream, the story takes place in mythical Athens. Thereus, the reigning Duke, has taken over the Amazons and has fallen in love with their beautiful Queen Hippolyta. As the play opens, he proclaims that their wedding is to take place in five days, which is the Midsummer s Eve, a time of great rejoicing and mischief among the fairies who live in the wood.
At this point, Egeus, a rich Athenian, brings his daughter Hermia to the Duke. Having fallen in love with Lysander, a young man whom her father disapproves of, Hermia refuses to marry Demetruis, who is her father s choice. Demetruis had been in love with Hermia s friend, Helena, but had left her for Hermia.
Angered by Hermia s disobedience to his will, Egus demands judgment on his daughter. Regretfully, the Duke tells Hermia that according to Athenian law, she must marry Demetruis or she will be killed. The only other alternative would be a life of chastity as a virgin priestess. She has just a short time, until the Duke s wedding, to decide.
In another part of Athens, a group of regular guys led by Peter Quince, a carpenter, are preparing a play for the wedding feast of Theseus and Hippolyta. The star of the group, Nick Bottom, a weaver, shows off his abilities to play all parts, but he is finally cast as the hero in a most heartbreaking comedy about the most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby (The Complete Works of William Shakespeare 390). All the parts are given and the rehearsal is set to take place the next night in the wood outside of Athens – the same wood where Hermia and Lysander later will meet.
The fairies that live in the woods are preparing for Midsummer s eve, a time when they will be able to do as they please. Meanwhile, their king, Oberon, and Titania, their queen, have quarreled over possession of a little boy, the child of one of Titania s priestesses.
In the city, after the others leave, Hermia and Lysander determine to meet in a wood near the city the following night. They plan to leave the city and go to a place outside of Athenian borders where they could be married. Helena promises to help the lovers, and they leave. When Demetruis returns, Helena, who is hopelessly in love with him, tries to win his love by telling him about Hermia s plan to escape. She is bitterly disappointed when Demetruis hurries away to stop the two from getting married, so she follows him.
Everyone is in the forest, even Puck, who is like Oberon s first hand man, and he is up to mischief. After everyone but Oberon and Puck have fallen asleep, Puck takes a special nectar and puts a spell on different lovers so they will love someone else, or the first thing they see when they awaken. He also puts the nectar in the eyes of Queen Titania and as an extra joke he changes Nick Bottom s head into that of a donkey. After Oberon discovers Puck s deeds, he tells him to undo his tricks, so Puck does. After all is set right, Queen Titania gives Oberon the child, and the feud is over.
The Duke comes through the wood and offers all of the couples the chance to get married at the same time as him. Lysander and Hermia receive permisesion to marry when the Duke learns Demetruis has fallen in love with Helena. To add a comment about the play, Hippolyta says, This is the silliest stuff I have ever heard (The Complete Works of William Shakespeare 408). This view is shared by everyone as they laughed so hard and they figured it was a true comedy. After they play, everyone lives happily ever after?
Wright, William Aldis. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. New York: Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., 1936.