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Plot and Character's in a Midsummer Night's Dream

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Plot and Characters

Don't focus on story in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The tale is simplicity itself. It's about ideas and emotion rather than plot. Notice that the fairies' magic takes place at night -- how much is really a dream?

Theseus, Duke of Athens, is about to marry Hippolyta, a lady warrior who he conquered. Egeus brings his daughter Hermia to court. She and Lysander want to get married, but Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius, who also wants her. Under Athenian law, Hermia must marry the man of her father's choice or be executed. Theseus says he will enforce this law and gives everyone a few days to decide. Demetrius has seduced and abandoned Helena, Hermia's friend. Lysander and Hermia decide to elope and get married in the next town, beyond the reach of Athenian law. (Probably Theseus and everybody else expects them to do this anyway.) Hermia tells Helena, who tells Demetrius in order to gain his affection herself. Hermia and Lysander flee into the woods, Demetrius follows the lovers, and Helena follows him.

Out in the forest, Oberon and Titania, king and queen of fairyland, have quarrelled over who will raise an orphaned Indian boy. Oberon sends Puck to find a magic flower. Now this flower's juice, applied to a sleeper's eyes, will make the person fall in love with whoever he or she sees first upon awakening. Puck brings the flower, and Oberon applies it to the eyes of sleeping Titania. Oberon then tells Puck to apply it to the eyes of Demetrius, so that when he wakes and sees Helena he will love her instead.

Hermia and Lysander fall asleep, with Lysander honoring Hermia's request to sleep a little distance away. Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and puts the love juice in his eyes. Helena sees Lysander, thinks he may be hurt, and wakes him. Lysander sees Helena and falls in love with her.

Some skilled laborers have gone into the woods to rehearse a play for the wedding. They rewrite it, replacing the lovers' parents by "the moon" and "a wall". Puck puts a donkey head on Bottom the weaver. Titania, awakening, falls in love with him.

Demetrius and Lysander meet Helena and Hermia and the love-comedy continues, with the men about to come to blows. Oberon sees what has happened, and instructs Puck to separate the two men, which he does, and to apply the love-juice to Demetrius's eyes. Lysander is lost in the dark and decides to sleep it out. Demetrius is tired and rests, and Puck reapplies the antidote to Lysander. Oberon applies the antidote to Titania. Demetrius wakes up and falls in love with Helena. After more dialogue and action, Theseus enters, the now properly-paired lovers are united, and everybody is happy. The humans wonder how much of the night's events have been real, and how much was a dream. The laborers perform



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