Introduction

Midsummer Night’s Dream was written by William Shakespeare in 1595-96. The ideation and conceptualisation of the storyline are entirely Shakespeare’s and have not been adapted from any previously written work. The central themes of this play are love, magic and power.

The notion that real love is deeper and beyond physical attraction remains the underlying message of the play. This chapter is an extract taken from Act 3, Scene 2 where the plot is set in the forest. A group of fairies’ travel from India to grace the wedding of Theseus and bless the couple. Titania is the fairy queen and King Oberon is her husband. Both have a heated argument. Oberon is disgusted by Titania’s stubbornness. He orders a fairy named Puck to sprinkle a love potion on Titania.

The love potion, when sprinkled on anybody, makes him/her fall in love with the first human they see after they wake up. Demetrius is running through the forest to find Hermia and interrupts Oberon on his way. This annoys Oberon, who commands Puck to apply the love potion on Demetrius’s eyes. Lysander and Hermia are sleeping. Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and applies the love potion on his eyes.

Helena arrives and wakes up Lysander, who because of the potion, instantly falls in love with her and starts following her. The actors are rehearsing for the play. Puck decides to play a prank on an actor named Nick Bottom by giving him a donkey head. Nick gets scared and starts singing a song to give himself the strength to confront this strange change in his appearance. His singing wakes up Titania and she immediately falls in love with him.

Characters

  1. Theseus: Theseus, duke of Athens was a brave warrior renowned for his heroic deeds.
  2. Hippolyta: The Amazon Queen who marries Theseus.

The Athenians

  • Egeus: A minor character who is Hermia’s father.
  • Hermia: the daughter of a powerful nobleman, Egeus. She has fallen in love with a boy called Lysander, but her dad wants her to marry a boy called Demetrius. She doesn’t like Demetrius at all. Under Athenian law, though, fathers can choose who their daughters marry.
  • Helena: A lifelong friend of Hermia.
  • Lysander: A young Athenian and one of the four lovers involved in a ‘love quadrangle’
  • Demetrius: He is a young man who is engaged to a young woman, Hermia, who is in love with another man named Lysander.

Fairies

  • Oberon: The king of all of the fairies and is engaged in a dispute with his wife Titania, the fairy queen. They were arguing over custody of a child whom Oberon wants to raise to be his henchman.
  • Titania: The Queen of the fairies and wife of the Fairy King, Oberon.
  • Puck: A mischievous sprite and Oberon’s servant and jester, one of Shakespeare’s most enjoyable characters.

Puck creates a commotion

In another part of the forest, Puck tells Oberon about the difficulty that he is facing which involved Titania and Bottom. Oberon was happy that his plan was working so well. Hermia meets Demetrius after losing Lysander, enters the clearing with Demetrius. Puck is surprised to see the woman he saw earlier with a different man instead of the one he enchanted.

Oberon was surprised to see the man he ordered Puck to enchant with a different woman. He realizes that a mistake has been made and decides to rectify it. Hermia presses Demetrius about Lysander’s situation, fearing that he must be dead, but Demetrius did not know where Lysander had gone, and he gets bitter and negative that Hermia would rather be with Lysander than with him.

Hermia became angrier and angrier, and Demetrius decided to not follow her as it was pointless. He lied down and fell asleep, and Hermia went away to find Lysander.

Oberon and Puck try to fix the problem which creates more problem

When Hermia was gone, Oberon sent Puck to find Helena and squeezes the flower juice onto Demetrius’s eyelids. Puck quickly returns, saying that Helena is close behind him. Helena enters with Lysander who was still pledging his unconditional love to her. She believed that he was mocking her and thus Helena remained angry and hurt.

The noise of their argument wakes Demetrius, who sees Helena and immediately falls in love with her. Demetrius joined Lysander in declaring this love. Lysander argues that Demetrius does not really love Helena; Demetrius argues that Lysander is truly in love with Hermia. Helena believes that they are both mocking her and refuses to believe that either one loves her.

Lysander and Demetrius fight for Helena’s love

 Hermia re-enters, having heard Lysander from a distance. When she learns that her beloved Lysander now claims to love Helena, as does Demetrius, seeing this Hermia was shocked and suspicious.

Helena, who was likewise unable to believe that both men could be in love with her, assumed that Hermia was involved in the joke that she believed the men were playing on her, and scolds Hermia angrily for treating their friendship so lightly. Lysander and Demetrius were ready to fight one another for Helena’s love; as they pounced at one another, Hermia held Lysander back, which annoyed him and told Hermia: “I will shake thee from me like a serpent”.

Hermia began to think that Helena had somehow acted to steal Lysander’s love from her, and she misunderstands that, because she is short and Helena is tall, Helena must have used her height to tempt Lysander. Hermia becomes extremely angry with Helena and threatens to scratch out her eyes.

Helena becomes afraid, saying that Hermia was always much quicker than her to fight. Demetrius and Lysander vow to protect Helena from Hermia, but they quickly become angry with each other and storm off into the forest to have a one-on-one fight. Helena runs away from Hermia, and Hermia still shocked by the turn of events, departs.

Oberon sends Puck to prevent Lysander and Demetrius from fighting and says that they must resolve this confusion by morning. Puck flies through the forest casting insults in the voices of both Lysander and Demetrius, confusing the would-be rivalries until they are hopelessly lost.