William Shakespeare

Plot Summary of a Midsummer Nights Dream



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A Midsummer Night's Dream is a truly magical exploration of love and its tangled web. Exploring timeless themes such as unrequited love, jealousy, forbidden passion and the often humorous consequences of meddling in the lives of others, the story is set in a fantasy world, overseen by the King of the Fairies. At once a romance, a comedy, and a meaningful tale, the story simply dazzles with entertaining dialogue, heartwarming characters and a complex and engrossing plot.

In the opening act, we discover that the story is set in Athens, and the Duke, Theseus, is preparing for his wedding to Hippolyta in a few days. He is entreated to help his friend Egeus, who wants to see his daughter, Hermia, married to Demetrius. However, his daughter has eyes only for Lysander, but her father forbids their union. Theseus decrees that Hermia must marry Demetrius or be confined to a nunnery for the rest of her life. Lysander and Hermia decide to run away that very night. Helena, childhood friend of Hermia is in love with Demetrius, and tells him of their plan to try and win his affections. Lysander and Hermia flee into the forest at night, followed closely by Demetrius, who in turn is pursued by Helena. Thus, all four young people enter the magical realm of the fairies.

In fairyland, all is not well. The king and queen of the fairies (Oberon and Titania) are fighting over an orphan boy. Titania wants to raise him herself, but Oberon wishes to take him to be his attendant. In his anger, Oberon sends his servant Puck to find a magical flower, whose juice when anointed onto a person will make him fall in love with the next thing he lays his eyes on. Oberon plans to make Titania fall in love with some foolish thing, and thus relinquish her hold on the boy.

Meanwhile, also entering the forest that night, are a group of actors who are going to rehearse a play they plan to perform at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. Puck, watching their performance, declares it so silly that he has a little fun and turns one of the actors, Bottom, into an ass. Bottom does not realize that he has the head of an ass, and wonders why his friends run away in fright. As he walks through the forest looking for them, he wakes Titania, who falls in love with him immediately thanks to Oberon's magic flower. She orders her fairies to attend to him, and Bottom finds himself pampered by the beautiful creatures.

As Puck returns with the magical flower, Demetrius comes into sight, with Helena at his heels begging him to see that she loves him more than Hermia ever could. Oberon decides to intervene, and instructs Puck to anoint Demetrius, and make him love Helena. Puck sets off, but is unable to find Demetrius. Soon, he happens upon Lysander and Hermia sleeping beneath the trees. Thinking that this must be Demetrius, he places the juice on his eyes. As he spirits away, Helena appears, waking Lysander from his sleep - whereupon he immediately falls in love with her. As she runs away, Lysander follows, leaving Hermia to wake all alone. She fears that Lysander has been murdered, for why else would he leave her, and as Demetrius arrives on the scene, she accuses him of killing her lover.

Puck and Oberon realize the mistake, and when Demetrius sleeps, they anoint his eyes with the juice, and ensure that Helena is the first thing he sees when he wakes. Now Helena finds herself adored by both Demetrius and Lysander, and when Hermia arrives in search of her love, she accuses them all of conspiring to tease her, and make fun of her un-loved state.

Finally, explaining that all sport must end, Oberon administers an antidote to Lysander, allowing him to return to his love for Hermia, and Demetrius convinces Helena that his love is real. Oberon also gives the antidote to Titania, who awakes and reunites with Oberon.

Theseus, Hippolyta and Egeus, in the forest looking for the four lovers, find them all sleeping side by side. On seeing them, Theseus and Egeus relent and allow them to marry as they choose. The party returns to Athens to prepare for the triple wedding.

Puck has returned Bottom to normal, and the company performs the play at the wedding as planned. The play is exceptionally silly, and the onlookers find great comedy in the errors of the actors. Entitled "Pyramus and Thisbe", it re-tells the story of Romeo and Juliet, in a humorous manner. The fairy King and Queen bless the new couples as the wedding party ends, and Bottom delivers a final soliloquy. All the players in the story are convinced that the events of the night before were merely a dream, and as in all great stories, everyone involved is happy again.

More about this author: Vicki Niedzielska

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