MODERN A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM PLOT SUMMARY
Theseus and Hippolyta discuss their impending wedding. They are interrupted by Egeus, a nobleman, who asks Theseus for his help with his daughter, Hermia. She refuses to marry Demetrius, who Egeus has picked out for her and wants to follow her heart and marry Lysander for love instead. Hermia is told she must marry Demetrius or become a nun. Demetrius and Lysander argue with one another; Lysander reveals that Demetrius has led another woman, Helena, on, and now she is in love with him.
Lysander begs Hermia to run away with him so they can elope. They decide to meet in the Woods at night, and Lysander leaves to avoid suspicion. Hermia tells Helena about their plan. After Hermia leaves, Helena reveals that she is in love with Demetrius and is jealous of Hermia's superior looks. She thinks this is the reason Demetrius loves Hermia more than he loves her. She decides to tell Demetrius about Hermia's elopement to get in his finest books. Maybe, she thinks, this will put her in a kinder light.
In the meantime, the Mechanicals—a group of workers in an amateur dramatics club—arrive at a space in Athens to rehearse their play together. Quince, the leader of the group, hands out parts. Bottom, who is to play the lead role of Pyramus in Pyramus and Thisbe, interrupts at every chance he gets to provide his opinion, or ask to play more roles than just the lead. Quince politely disagrees with him each time. The others—Flute, Snout, Snug, and Starveling—are handed their parts and bring up their insecurities with each. For example, Snug is worried he won't be able to remember his lines as the Lion, even though his lines are all roars! Once all the parts have been handed out, they decide to meet in the Woods away from everyone else so they can rehearse without being interrupted.
In the Woods, Robin Goodfellow and another fairy meet. They talk about the King and Queen of the fairy world arguing over a stolen Indian boy. Queen Titania refuses to hand him over to King Oberon. As a result, the natural world is in disorder: fog has spread across the land and crops refuse to grow. They reveal to each other that Titania and Oberon are both coming to the Woods. The Fairy wants Oberon to go away so he won't upset her Queen.
Titania and Oberon meet. Oberon asks her for the Indian boy. Titania refuses as the boy's mother was a dear friend of hers who died. She looks after him for her friend. Oberon wants her to be obedient, but Titania refuses him. Titania knows the only reason Oberon has returned to the Woods is to wish Theseus well in his marriage, and because Oberon is in love with Hippolyta. Titania tells her fairies to follow her, and they leave Oberon and Robin alone. Oberon asks Robin to fetch a flower hit with a stray bow from Cupid's arrow and bring it to him: he will use the flower juice to make Titania fall in love with the next thing she sees so he can take the boy from her.
As Robin fetches the flower, Demetrius enters the woods, followed by Helena. Neither sees Oberon as he hides from sight. Helena begs him to love her again, but Demetrius threatens to rape her. She doesn't care if he hurts her; she's already hurt by the fact that he won't pursue her. Demetrius threatens to leave her with the wild animals and escapes into the thick of the woods once more, Helena hot on his heels. Oberon promises Helena that she will be pursued by the end of the night.
Robin returns with the flower. Oberon tells him to smear it on the eyes of an Athenian youth in the Woods so that he will love her more than she loves him. Oberon leaves to smear the flower juice on Titania's eyes.
Titania asks her fairy court to sing her to sleep and stand guard while she sleeps. Once she has fallen asleep, all but one leaves to carry out errands. Oberon enters and smears the flower juice across her eyes. He tells her not to wake up until something disgusting comes near, and then to fall in love with it. Oberon leaves.
Lysander and Hermia stumble in. They are tired and lost in the Woods. They decide to lie down to rest for a while. Lysander wants to lie close to Hermia, but she tells him to be gentlemanly and sleep further away. Lysander disagrees—they are in love; their hearts are as one, and so they should sleep near one another. Hermia refuses once more, and Lysander gives in, although points out he only meant the suggestion innocently. They go to sleep.
Robin enters and smears the flower juice across Lysander's eyes and chastises Hermia for sleeping so closely to him.
Demetrius and Helena enter. Demetrius continues to threaten Helena's safety. She begs him to stay with her, even if it means killing her. Demetrius tells her that he'll leave her to the wild animals and runs away again. Helena is too tired to run after him and decides to lie down to sleep, but, before she can, she sees Lysander. He wakes up and immediately falls in love with her. Lysander wants to find Demetrius so he can kill him for Helena's heart. Helena thinks that Lysander is making fun of her. She runs away. Lysander tells the still sleeping Hermia not to wake up or follow him as she is too sweet for him now. He runs after Helena.
Hermia wakes after a terrifying nightmare in which her heart is being eaten by a snake, and finds herself alone. She calls out to Lysander, but he does not answer. Fearing the worst, she decides to try and find him.
The Mechanicals gather in the Woods for a rehearsal of the play. They discuss various elements in the play that they need—Moonshine and a Wall—and how best to represent these on stage. Bottom is also worried about using a sword on stage when Pyramus has to kill himself. He doesn't want to frighten the audience, and so they decide to write a Prologue to explain to the audience that the play isn't real. Snout is also worried about the Lion frightening the audience, and Bottom decides that he should speak to the audience instead of roar to reassure the ladies. Once these issues have been resolved, the actors start to rehearse. None of them are remarkably talented.
Robin enters and is at first upset that they are rehearsing so close to Titania, but is intrigued by the prospect of an entertaining play. He thinks that Bottom's Pyramus is the strangest portrayal he's ever seen, and follows him off “stage” behind some bushes. Bottom returns with a donkey's head instead of his own, transformed by Robin. The others flee frightened that the monster will attack them. Bottom thinks that they are trying to trick him into being upset and refuses to run away. He sings, which wakes Titania. She falls in love with him on sight. Bottom doesn't quite understand why she has fallen in love with him, but doesn't actually argue with her. Titania calls her most trusted fairies—Peaseblossom, Moth, Cobweb and Mustardseed—to take care of Bottom. They leave to go and sleep in a flowerbed.
Oberon wonders whether or not Titania has fallen in love with something horrid yet. Robin enters and reports that she has fallen in love with Bottom, who he has given a donkey's head, and the Athenian youth is also in love with Helena as requested. Oberon sees Demetrius and Hermia coming—Robin reveals he has never seen Demetrius before, and may have mixed up the Athenian men. Hermia thinks Demetrius has killed Lysander as there's no other reason why he would have left her, but Demetrius defends himself: he hasn't even seen Lysander. Hermia won't talk to him again and runs away into the woods. Demetrius doesn't want to go after her while she's upset and goes to sleep.
Oberon tells Robin off, sends him to fetch Helena, and smears flower juice across Demetrius' eyes so that he will fall in love with Helena. Demetrius wakes and declares his love for Helena when she enters. Helena believes that both of the Athenian men are in on the joke now, and is upset. Demetrius gives up on his claim for Hermia and tells Lysander to go marry her instead, but Lysander doesn't want her either.
Hermia enters and asks Lysander where he went. He followed his love: Helena. Helena accuses Hermia of persuading the boys to trick her, but Hermia doesn't understand. They quarrel with one another, and once Hermia realizes Lysander genuinely does mean what he says; she threatens to beat Helena up. Demetrius and Lysander, too, decide to duel for Helena's hand.
Helena tries to reason with Hermia--she loves Hermia. They grew up together! Hermia tells her to leave. Helena does, afraid that Hermia will attack her. Demetrius and Lysander leave to fight one another further away in the woods. Hermia doesn't know what to think anymore. She leaves.
Oberon blames Robin for the mess he's made. Robin assures him that he made a mistakes. Oberon asks Robin to make the Woods dark so the two Athenian men won't be able to see one another to fight, and imitate their voices to lure them away from one another. He gives Robin a new flower to smear across their eyes and undo the damage he has caused. When the youths wake up, they will think of the night as if it were all a dream. Oberon plans to do the same for Titania after she gives him the Indian boy. They have to work fast to complete the work before the impending sunrise!
Lysander and Demetrius, still trying to find one another, follow Robin around the Woods. He uses their voices to call to them alternately until they both grow tired. They both lie down to sleep. Helena and Hermia, in separate areas of the Woods, decide to sleep as well, exhausted and weary from the trying night. Robin smears the flower juice on Lysander's eyes to cure him and bids them all to find the one they truly love when they wake.
While the others sleep, Titania and Bottom enter with her fairies. She dotes on him, scratching his ears and threading flowers in his hair. Bottom wishes nothing more than to sleep, and so Titania tells her fairies to leave them alone, and curls up with Bottom in a flowerbed.
Oberon and Robin, hidden from view, talk about Oberon's meeting with Titania. He managed to persuade Titania to hand over the Indian boy with no problem. After he releases Titania from the spell—for Oberon wants her to see what a fool he has made of her—Oberon wants Robin to remove Bottom's donkey head. Titania wakes up and is horrified to find that she was in love with Bottom, and never wants to see him again. Robin gives Bottom his human head back. While the Athenians sleep, Oberon and Titania dance together. Oberon is overjoyed; he has Titania back and is convinced that there will be three weddings the next day. Robin interrupts them: the night is almost over! Oberon and Titania leave for the other side of the world to catch up with the night.
Theseus and Hippolyta enter with servants and Egeus. They talk about a epic hunt they have planned, and praise the ability of hunting dogs to bark loudly enough for it to echo off cliffs and trees. Theseus suddenly sees the Athenians sleeping on the ground. He wakes them up with the servants' horns. Theseus assumes they are out in the Woods because they knew Theseus would be there, but questions Lysander and Demetrius as to why two enemies could sleep so closely to one another. They have no idea how they got there, but do remember running into the woods. Although Egeus calls for Lysander to be arrested upon hearing he planned to elope with Hermia, Demetrius interrupts with his version of the events and proclaims his love for Helena. He doesn't know how exactly it has happened, but his love for Hermia seems to have disappeared. Theseus refuses to uphold Egeus' wish and will allow the two happy couples to marry one another. They give up on hunting now that the day is running into the afternoon, and head back to Athens for the weddings. All but the four Athenians leave; they're not sure if they're awake yet or not, but decide they must be if they all saw Theseus. They decide to compare dreams along the way to Athens.
After they leave, Bottom awakes. He can't put into words what he just experienced, but will get Quince to write it down for him.
Back in Athens, the Mechanicals lament the loss of Bottom. They don't know where he is, and assume he has been kidnapped. They're upset that the play won't be put on as Bottom was the only person fit to play Pyramus. While they compliment his characteristics, Snug arrives to tell the group that there have been three couples married that day. Bottom arrives! He won't tell them what happened to him just yet as they need to get ready for the play!
Theseus, Hippolyta and Philostrate discuss the strange things the Athenian youths have been saying. Theseus believes it sounds downright made up and blames love for their hallucinations. Hippolyta wonders if it wasn't a dream as their dreams were all the same.
Demetrius, Helena, Lysander and Hermia arrive. After an exchange of blessings, Theseus calls on Philostrate to list the entertainment he has planned for the wedding party. Theseus rejects a few—including a retelling of Hercules and the Centaurs—but asks to see Pyramus and Thisbe. Philostrate warns them against it as he watched them rehearse earlier; they were awful! Theseus still wants to see it, and so Philostrate leaves to fetch them. Hippolyta doesn't want to laugh at poor people, but Theseus assures her that they will be respectful and compliment what they do well.
The play begins. It's a bit of a shamble: the actors explain exactly what is happening on stage rather than acting out the story. After a brief Prologue telling the audience they are not there to entertain them, Pyramus and Thisbe talk through the Wall, played by Snout, who holds up his two fingers to form a chink in the wall. The two lovers plan to meet at Ninny's tomb. In a series of asides to one another, Hippolyta, Theseus and Demetrius criticize or compliment the actors. Hippolyta thinks this play is the silliest she's ever seen.
Snug as the Lion appears on stage and explains to them that he's not actually a Lion. The Moon enters, carrying a lantern and explains rather confusingly that he is the man in the moon and the lantern is the moon. Demetrius jokes that he would like to see how the man could fit into the lantern so easily, but the Moon continues on regardless. Meanwhile, Thisbe is frightened by the Lion, who tears her cloak off and rips it.
Pyramus finds Thisbe's cloak and assumes she has been killed and stabs himself with his sword. Hippolyta hopes Thisbe won't cry over Pyramus too much as he isn't truly worth it. Thisbe finds Pyramus and stabs herself. Breaking character, Bottom asks if the audience wants to hear the Epilogue, but Theseus thinks that a play where all the main characters have died doesn't need an Epilogue; there's no-one left to blame!
Theseus congratulates them on their performance, and then announces to the others that it is time for bed.
Robin steps in. He talks about the ghoulish and supernatural things that happen when night comes. He has been sent ahead to clean the house and make sure no one disturbs the sleeping Athenians before the fairies arrive. Oberon and Titania sing and dance together to bless the house, the marriages, and the couples' future children. They all leave but Robin, who addresses the audience. He asks them to think of the play as a kind of dream if it has offended them. If they give him a chance, he can set things right, and if he doesn't set things right he will be called a liar. He asks the audience to applaud if they are still friends, and then leaves.
MODERN A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM CHARACTER ANALYSIS
Theseus is the Duke of Athens. Theseus himself may be based on the famous Greek God, who was the mythical King who founded Athens, and the total hero of the Athenian people. He is generally fair and just, because he overrides Egeus' wishes to force his daughter to marry Demetrius once the four lovers have sorted their problems out. He is also a man of law and society; he follows the rules of warfare in that he marries Hippolyta, and grants Egeus his initial request to force Hermia to decide between Demetrius and becoming a nun. However, he is also another example of the power that man has over woman in Midsummer, for he has not won Hippolyta's heart and hand in marriage honourably, but in the battlefield.
Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, is due to marry Theseus after she and her army were defeated in battle. We don't see or hear much from her, probably due to her subserviency to Theseus after she has lost the war, but what we do find out is that she is mildly protective of the common man. This could be because she feels uncomfortable around them. She comments that she doesn't want to watch the play if they're going to mock the actors for their own entertainment. This could be Shakespeare's way of using the female presence as a place of sympathy, but it could also be due to her empathy as someone who has been trapped.
Lysander is in love with Hermia and will not stand down despite the threats to his safety made by Demetrius and Hermia's father, Egeus. It can be assumed that Lysander is quite romantic, as he not only discusses numerous forbidden loves, but also wants to steal Hermia away into the night to elope with her. Lysander seems used to using his soft and gentle manner to persuade people into giving him what he wants, as he tries this with Hermia when they lie down together in the wood. When he is threatened by Demetrius, however, his masculine nature appears once more, suggesting that masculinity is the stronger of the sexes.
Demetrius is a bit of a scoundrel: he fell in love with Helena, and then changed his mind and decided he wanted Hermia instead. He threatens Helena in the woods after she chases him with not only rape, but also death. He leaves her alone in the woods to fend for herself because he wants to find Hermia, and yet through all this Helena sticks by him. He also joins in with the criticisms of the play with Theseus, so it can be assumed—although we don't see much evidence of it—that he is always looking for the Duke's approval. Either that, or Demetrius just majorly enjoys being nasty.
An Athenian lady. It would be an understatement to say that Helena suffers from low self esteem; she constantly puts herself down because of her physical attributes, and for her personality. She claims she cries too much and blames this on her poor features. She grew up with Hermia and has probably been in quiet competition with her since they met, as her fears and insecurities appear unusually deep seated. Helena is extremely love-sick for Demetrius, who she was engaged to before he fell in love with Hermia. Even though her loyalty to Demetrius can be seen as a sign of weakness, especially when he threatens to rape her, she shows her cleverness in the plan to get him back through giving him information, and in her refusal to believe Lysander loves her.
The second of the Athenian ladies, Hermia is well loved by all. She is called beautiful, so we can assume that she has had many suitors, from which Demetrius has been chosen for her. She's forthright in her belief that she should be able to marry for love, and is brave enough to take what would be a terrifying step away from her father and everything she knows for love.
The Queen of the Fairies, Titania starts off as a strong ruler who will not bow to her husband's wishes due to her morality. She will not give up the Indian Boy just because he wants him, and has made a vow to her friend and the boy's mother. And yet, after Titania is made a fool of, and she is tricked into handing back the Indian Boy, she takes Oberon back without much any argument. From then on, she takes his orders, dances with him and is generally amenable. Although it could be argued that this is evidence of male dominance, it could also represent Titania's nurturing side. She refuses to follow Oberon's orders because her maternal instincts tell her not to, and once she no longer has to worry for the boy; she can forgive Oberon easily.
Robin, or Puck as he is often known, is a complete mischief maker and the trickster personified. He is a servant to Oberon and is sent to fetch flowers, run errands and smear the flower juice across the Athenian youth's eyes. Robin, in essence, gets many of the events of the play rolling and is quite a prominent character for this reason. Some historians have even pinpointed Robin as the protagonist of Midsummer as the play is without a clear lead. Although he plays cruel tricks on Bottom by giving him a donkey's head, he is generally a kindhearted character and will admit to mistakes he has made. Robin is a fairy, but he is not as gentle and sweet as Titania's servants; instead, he is a little more rough around the edges.
The King of the Fairies. He, like Theseus and Egeus, believe that they can and should be able to control their wives, and is gobsmacked that his wife, Titania, continues to refuse him. He does not take delight in mischief that is not specifically designed by him or goes against true love; for example, Robin pours the flower juice on the wrong person's eyes. If the mischief is advantageous to him-for example when getting the Indian Boy back-he delights in it as long as they follow the rules of their world.,
Hermia's father, and an Athenian courtier. He wants to control his daughter as per societal law to force her to marry the person he has chosen for her. He looks to Theseus a lot for help in these matters, but concedes to his rule once he is told Hermia will marry the person she loves.
Bottom is a well respected man among his peers, even if those peers are not to be well respected by the audience of Midsummer. They believe he is the smartest and best looking among them, which of course means he will end up with the lead in the play. Bottom interrupts Quince constantly to preen and prattle on about his abilities as a speaker or dramatist, which doesn't lend him much respect from the reader. We're meant to laugh at him. When Robin watches him rehearse Pyramus' role, he is called a strange and stupid actor; Robin's immediate thought is to give him a donkey's head, an animal which is often used to represent foolishness. Despite his ignorance, Bottom does mean well, and the rest of the group do look to him for help, which he is always there to provide.
Quince is the real leader of the drama group, and a carpenter by trade. He knows how to deal with Bottom's constant interruptions and attempts to take over direction either by changing the subject, asking Bottom directly for his advice or by refusing his suggestion wholly through compliments. For instance, Quince tells Bottom he is the only one who could play Pyramus, and so he couldn't possibly play other characters. A terrifically skilled manipulator! Beyond this, not much else is known about his character.
Flute is a bellows-mender and plays Thisbe in the play at the end. He is reluctant to play a female character and claims this is because he has a beard coming (1.2.40-41) and doesn't want to shave it off. Quince waves him off and tells him that he'll wear a mask over his face, and that's that. Flute doesn't argue much, and when he does speak it is usually to worry or compliment someone. He appears to be quite a nervous person.
Snug, the joiner, plays the Lion and is excited by the prospect. He is, however, afraid of frightening the ladies in the audience, which shows his gentleness and sensitivity. Snug can be seen as another foolish character, as he is initially worried he won't be able to learn his lines—which are at the time all roars! He is the only minor character of the Mechanicals not given a first name.
Snout, the tinker, plays the Wall in the play. Initially he is meant to play Pyramus' father, but the play's need for a Wall ended up being greater. He, like his friends and fellow actors, is terrified by the prospect of Bottom being transformed, but is one of only two to return and approach Bottom for a short while. Snout's bravery is short lived, however, as once he has pointed out Bottom's transformation, he flees to safety.
EXCERPT FROM A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
The palace of THESEUS.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, and Attendants
Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
My dear Hippolyta, our wedding day
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Is coming soon, in exactly four days, when there is
Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow
a new moon: but too slowly
This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,
is this moon waning! It is making me wait anxiously,
Like to a step-dame or a dowager
Like a step-mother or a widow
Long withering out a young man revenue.
makes a son wait for his inheritance.
Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
But four days will quickly become four nights,
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And we will dream through the four nights,
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
And then the new moon, shaped like a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Pulled back in the sky, will look at the night
Of our solemnities.
That marks the day of our marriage.
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
And get the young people of Athens to party.
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
Wake up the city with an air of celebration
Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
And allow sadness only for funerals –
The pale companion is not for our pomp.
We do not need it mixed with our joy and festivities.
Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
Hippolyta, I courted you by sword in battle
And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
And won your love as I defeated and kidnapped you –
But I will wed thee in another key,
But our wedding will be different,
With pomp, with triumph and with revelling.
celebratory, triumphant, and joyful.
Enter EGEUS, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and DEMETRIUS
Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!
I hope you are well, Duke Theseus!
Thanks, good Egeus: what's the news with thee?
Thank you, Egeus
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
I am confused and worried for
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Hermia, my daughter and child.
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
Come forward, Demetrius. My Lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
I have agreed to this man marrying her.
Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke,
Come forward, Lysander: and good duke,
This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child;
This man has tricked my daughter’s heart.
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
You, Lysander, you have written her poems,
And interchanged love-tokens with my child:
And given her trinkets and gifts:
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
At night, below her window, you sang to her,
With feigning voice verses of feigning love,
Deceiving her with insincere lyrics of untrue love,
And stolen the impression of her fantasy
And have stirred her imagination
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits,
With locks of hair, rings, toys, favors,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats, messengers
Knickknacks, charms, flowers, and desserts, convincing
Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth:
Signs to strongly sway a naive youth.
With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart,
Sneakily you have stolen my daughter’s love,
Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me,
So that she obeys you instead of me, and to me
To stubborn harshness: and, my gracious duke,
Acts stubbornly and rudely. And now, gracious duke,
Be it so she; will not here before your grace
I ask that you let me, if she will not here
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
Agree to marrying Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,
Do what I am allowed as an Athenian father,
As she is mine, I may dispose of her:
Who owns his daughter, and send her away:
Which shall be either to this gentleman
Either to marry Demetrius,
Or to her death, according to our law
Or to die, according to the law.
Immediately provided in that case.
What say you, Hermia? be advised fair maid:
Well, Hermia – how do you respond? Know this:
To you your father should be as a god;
Your father should be thought of as your god –
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
He created you, as beautiful as you are, and
To whom you are but as a form in wax
So you are only a wax model
By him imprinted and within his power
That he has signed as the artist, and as such
To leave the figure or disfigure it.
He may leave it untouched, or demolish it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
Demetrius is well worth marrying.
So is Lysander.
But Lysander is as well.
In himself he is;
Yes, outside of this situation he is,
But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
But considering your father’s opinion
The other must be held the worthier.
Demetrius is the better man.
I would my father look'd but with my eyes.
I wish my father could see this as I do!
Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
No, you should instead see it as he does.
I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
Please forgive me for what I am going to say.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
I do not know how I feel so confident to speak honestly,
Nor how it may concern my modesty,
or how much I am overstepping my place and being ill-mannered,
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;
And bring my case to you who are my authority;
But I beseech your grace that I may know
But I ask, because I wish to know for sure,
The worst that may befall me in this case,
What is the worst that might happen to me
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
If I refuse to marry Demetrius?
Either to die the death or to abjure
You must either die or be banished
For ever the society of men.
From marrying and sent to a nunnery.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;
So, beautiful Hermia, step back and search yourself,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Understand your immaturity, your youth, and your temperament,
Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
So you can know, if you do not obey your father,
You can endure the livery of a nun,
If you can live the rest of your life as a nun.
For aye to be in shady cloister mew'd,
You would be caged in a dark convent
To live a barren sister all your life,
All your life, living as a nun, childless,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Chanting hymns to the cold moon, which like you is without child.
Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood,
Believe me, those that can quell their desires are blessed triple
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;
For journeying through life as a nun is admirable –
But earthlier happy is the rose distill'd,
But on this earth, it is happier to be married, like a rose perfume,
Than that which withering on the virgin thorn
Rather than the rose that on the same stem
Grows, lives and dies in single blessedness.
Grows, lives, and dies, alone but chaste and blessed.
So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
So I will likewise grow, live, and die alone, my lord
Ere I will my virgin patent up
Before I consent to losing my virginity
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
To Demetrius, whose bond of marriage I do not wish
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.
And to whose authority my soul does not desire to bow.
Take time to pause; and, by the nest new moon--
Take time and think about your decision until the new moon –
The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
– which is when Hippolyta and I will marry
For everlasting bond of fellowship--
and be forever joined together –
Upon that day either prepare to die
And then you must be ready to die
For disobedience to your father's will,
For disobeying your father’s will,
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
Or ready to wed Demetrius, as your father wishes,
Or on Diana's altar to protest
Or like the chaste Roman goddess Diana, commit
For aye austerity and single life.
Yourself to the nun’s vows of lifelong celibacy.
Relent, sweet Hermia: and, Lysander, yield
Change your mind, sweet Hermia! And Lysander, give up
Thy crazed title to my certain right.
Your claim to the woman I am due to marry.
You have her father's love, Demetrius;
Demetrius, you can have her father’s love
Let me have Hermia's: do you marry him.
And I can have Hermia’s – why don’t you marry him?
Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,
Rude Lysander! Yes, I love Demetrius,
And what is mine my love shall render him.
And so I will give him what is mine:
And she is mine, and all my right of her
My daughter, and the right to marry her
I do estate unto Demetrius.
Is so allowed to Demetrius.
I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
You know, sir, I come from as good a family as he does,
As well possess'd; my love is more than his;
I am just as rich, and I love Hermia more.
My fortunes every way as fairly rank'd,
In everything I rank just as highly,
If not with vantage, as Demetrius';
If not higher, than Demetrius,
And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
And moreover, which should be what is most important,
I am beloved of beauteous Hermia:
Beautiful Hermia loves me in return:
Why should not I then prosecute my right?
Why should I not be able to marry her?
Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,
Demetrius, I promise this is true,
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
Wooed Nedar’s daughter, Helena,
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
Until she fell for him, and she, poor girl, loves,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Loves deeply, almost to the point of obsession,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man.
This flawed and inconsistent man.