A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Shakespeare
Novels
1:50 h
Level 9
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy written by William Shakespeare c. 1595 or 1596. The play is set in Athens, and consists of several subplots that revolve around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. One subplot involves a conflict between four Athenian lovers. Another follows a group of six amateur actors rehearsing the play which they are to perform before the wedding. Both groups find themselves in a forest inhabited by fairies who manipulate the humans and are engaged in their own domestic intrigue. The play is one of Shakespeare's most popular and is widely performed.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by
William Shakespeare


Dramatis Personæ

THESEUS, Duke of Athens
HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the Amazons, bethrothed to Theseus
EGEUS, Father to Hermia
HERMIA, daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander
HELENA, in love with Demetrius
LYSANDER, in love with Hermia
DEMETRIUS, in love with Hermia
PHILOSTRATE, Master of the Revels to Theseus

QUINCE, the Carpenter
SNUG, the Joiner
BOTTOM, the Weaver
FLUTE, the Bellows-mender
SNOUT, the Tinker
STARVELING, the Tailor

OBERON, King of the Fairies
TITANIA, Queen of the Fairies
PUCK, or ROBIN GOODFELLOW, a Fairy
PEASEBLOSSOM, Fairy
COBWEB, Fairy
MOTH, Fairy
MUSTARDSEED, Fairy

PYRAMUS, THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, LION; Characters in the Interlude performed by the Clowns

Other Fairies attending their King and Queen
Attendants on Theseus and Hippolyta

Scene: Athens, and a Wood Not Far from It


Act I

Scene I.
Athens. A Room in the Palace of Theseus

Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate and Attendants.

THESEUS.
Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon; but oh, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man’s revenue.

HIPPOLYTA.
Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.

THESEUS.
Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
The pale companion is not for our pomp.

[Exit Philostrate.]

Hippolyta, I woo’d thee with my sword,
And won thy love doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.

Enter Egeus, Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius.

EGEUS.
Happy be Theseus, our renownèd Duke!

THESEUS.
Thanks, good Egeus. What’s the news with thee?

EGEUS.
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander. And, my gracious Duke,
This man hath bewitch’d the bosom of my child.
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchang’d love-tokens with my child.
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
With feigning voice, verses of feigning love;
And stol’n the impression of her fantasy
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats (messengers
Of strong prevailment in unharden’d youth)
With cunning hast thou filch’d my daughter’s heart,
Turn’d her obedience (which is due to me)
To stubborn harshness. And, my gracious Duke,
Be it so she will not here before your grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
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
Immediately provided in that case.