In Act 1 Scene 1, of A Midsummer Night’s Dream short summary, Theseus the Duke of Athens and Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons talk about their wedding which is in four days. Aegeus, one of Theseus’s lords arrives with his daughter Hermia and the two men who are in love with her, Demetrius and Lysander. Hermia loves Lysander but Aegeus wants her to marry Demetrius.
Aegeus thinks Theseus should adhere to the old Athenian law and force Hermia to obey her father and die. Theseus instead says that she must obey her father or vow never to be with any man. Hermia prefers this vow to marry him, Demetrius. Lysander states his case for marrying Hermia noting that another woman Helena is in love with Demetrius. Theseus decides to discuss this further with Aegeus and Demetrius.
When the others leave Lysander tells Hermia that they can run away together and they make a plan to meet in the woods following evening. Then Helena enters bemoaning how she loves Demetrius but her love is not reciprocated. Hermia and Lysander reveal their plan to her. after they exit Helena is left alone and she decides she will tell Demetrius about Hermia and Lysander’s plan. then when Demetrius follows Hermia and Lysander she will follow him. this opening scene introduces several main characters and sets up the central conflict of the play.
The four lovers Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius and what happens to them when they enter the woods are central to the main storyline. Hermia is loved by two men. Helena’s love is unreturned. Aegeus demands his daughter’s obedience causing her to flee in secret to the woods to meet Lysander.
This scene establishes the idea of love as a magical force that makes people act irrationally. Love is not something that comes from within a person but from without. Aegeus accuses Lysander of putting a spell on his daughter Hermia with his gifts and cunning. Helena also remarks on the irrational nature of love as she describes her feelings of love for Demetrius despite the fact that he’s treated her terribly.
Another way that the love theme plays out is the way that love directly opposes law and order. Lysander’s idea suggests that love can survive but only if he and Hermia escaped the laws of Athens. Another important theme concerns gender roles. Theseus won Hippolyta not through affection or courtship but by besting her in battle but she seems happy enough with this arrangement and Theseus doesn’t seem to think and odd that he transitions from violence to celebrating a marriage. as Hermia’s father Aegeus expects her to obey and Theseus agrees that she owes her father her obedience .patriarchy is power and these fathers really power players make the rules.
Act 1 Scene 2, A Midsummer Night’s Dream short summary
In act 1 scene 2, of A Midsummer Night’s Dream short summary at the home of Peter Quince, a few comically named tradesmen of Athens, Nick Bottom, Francis Flute, Robin Starveling, Tom Snout and Snug gather. They are planning a play they hope they can perform after Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding in the interlude between the big ceremony and bedtime.
Quince, a writer tells the men it is based on the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, an old tale of two young lovers whose families try to keep them apart and who tragically die. As Quince attempts to assign roles in the play to the men, Nick Bottom interrupts dramatically describing how he will play all the parts. Eventually, Quince manages to assign Bottom, the role of Pyramus and Flute, the role of Thisbe. The other men will play the lion, moonshine and the law. The men agree and say they will memorize their parts and meet for rehearsal in the woods on the following night.
The humour of this scene reveals Shakespeare’s most hilarious comic device. Much of the humour comes from the fact that Bottom and to a lesser extent Quince believe they are way better at crafting theatre than they actually are. Quince actually names the play, “The Most Lamentable Comedy” and “The Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe”.
Bottoms’ eagerness to play all the roles and his overestimation of his ability to dazzle the audience add to the humour. The group’s reaction to a suggestion that the men might all be hanged if their lion is too frightening for the ladies in the audience shows they are earnest but naive. They are concerned the audience will find their portrayal too realistic and that’s just silly. An interesting historical note to Francis Flutes’ objection that he cannot play a lady because he has a beard coming in refers to the practice in Elizabethan times of having young men play the female characters because the law forbade women from taking roles on the stage. However, once an actor’s voice changed and his beard came in he had to move on to other roles.
Act 2 Scene 1, A Midsummer Night’s Dream short summary
In act 2 scene 1, of A Midsummer Night’s Dream short summary it’s the next night and the fairy King Oberon’s fairy servant, Puck actually named Robin Goodfellow meets another fairy, a servant of the fairy queen, Titania. Puck brags about the practical jokes he likes playing on humans. Oberon and Titania enter arguing about a changeling boy who is to Tanya’s. Oberon wants to tell you to give him the boy and she refuses. their quarrel has been causing chaos in the natural world including wind and fog and flooding which is affecting the crops. Oberon tells Puck that he’s going to play a trick on titania. Cupid he says once shot an arrow that accidentally hit a flower. The juice of the flower can be placed on a sleeping person’s eyes and when the slipping person wakes up they will fall madly in love with the next living creature that they see. He sends the puck to get him the flower planning to use it on Titania so she may fall in love with something hideous and disgusting.
After Puck leaves Demetrius and Helena enter and Oberon secretly watches them. Demetrius is searching for Hermia and Lysander and Helena follows along expressing her love for him. He tells her harshly to go away leave him alone but she just keeps following him. Puck brings the flower to Oberon who tells Puck to use some of its juice to make that Athenian man he has just seen fall in love with the poor woman who he treated so badly. He tells Puck he will recognize the man by the Athenian garments he has on. They both leave to put the magic flower nectar to use.
Act 2 shows what happens when humans enter the fairy realm of the woods. The fairy world has its own rules and magic is a typical occurrence. Out in the woods at night, magic turns reality into a sort of dreamlike Wonderland. The feud between Oberon and Titania speaks to the theme of gender roles. Oberon is frustrated not just because he wants the changeling boy but also because Titania is defying him. He berates her and reminds her he is her Lord so she should obey him. Their arguments and the disorder unleashing on the natural world emphasizes the connection between the fairy realms magic and nature.
Gender roles are also emphasized in the relationship between Helena and Demetrius. Helena has utter devotion to Demetrius speaks to gender stereotypes of women having dogmatic love and devotion to the men they fawn over even when those men are total jerks. Oberon’s decision to take pity on Helena is the action that first intertwines the human and fairy plots. Puck who already has experience playing tricks on humans moves between these two plots weaving them together.
The theme of love is a magical force that finds its most concrete symbolic representation in the flower that was shot by Cupid’s arrow. The nectar making its victim fall for any living thing be it animal fairy or whatever represents how irrational loves magic can be.
Act 2 Scene 2, A Midsummer Night’s Dream short Analysis
In Act 2 Scene 2 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream short summary Titania’s fairies sing her to sleep and then Oberon places the magic flower nectar on her eyelids. Lysander and Hermia enter lost and tired. They lie down a little apart. They’re still unmarried and fall asleep. Puck enters and seeingLysander’s Athenian clothing believes he is the man Oberon sent him to find. he places the juice of the flower on Lysander’s eyelids and leaves. Demetrius enters with Helena still chasing after him but he finally evades her and runs off. Helena spots Hermia and Lysander and wakes up Lysander thinking he’s hurt. Soon as he opens his eyes he falls madly in love with Helena who in turn thinks Lysander is making fun of her and runs away. Lysander follows. When Hermia wakes up, Lysander is gone. She goes off to search for him. Oberon shows chaos on purpose as revenge against Titaniya’s prideful denial of his demand that she give him the changeling boy. He hopes that she falls in love with something violent but Puck so is chaos without meaning to when he mistakenly applies the juice to the wrong lover’s eyes referring to Oberon’s vague description of a young man in Athenian garments. How will this play out now that Helena is loved by the wrong man and the man Hermia loves no longer loves her. A madcap confrontation seems imminent. In this scene, Hermia dreams about a snake eating her heart. This dream foreshadows the betrayal of love and trust she will soon experience.
Act 3 Scene 1, A Midsummer Night’s Dream short Analysis
In act 3 scene 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream short summary, in the woods near the place where Titania is sleeping, the six goofball Athenian tradesmen gather to rehearse their play within a play. They are a little concerned that having a lion or a sword fight in the play will frighten the ladies, leading to disaster for the actors. Bottom suggests that they should simply explain in the play that they are actors playing roles so no one will be afraid, realizing that the night of the performance will fall during a new moon or a moonless night, they decide an actor will play moonshine in the play. As they rehearse, mischievous fairy Puck enters and decides to play a practical joke changing bottoms head to that of a donkey just before Bottom enters for a scene. Without a mixes entrance, the other tradesmen run away terrified at this sudden transformation. Bottoms is confused and think they’re all trying to scare him. He begins to sing loudly waking Titania who takes one look at him and instantly falls in love with him. She forbids him to leave the woods and tells her fairy servants to wait on him hand and foot. She takes Bottoms back home to her Bower to dote on him lovingly.
In this scene, the tradesmen argue about the contents of their play worrying that the audience won’t understand that they are actors playing roles. Their lack of trust in the audience to separate fact from fiction is funny in itself but it takes on additional layers as a commentary on theatre in general. Obviously everyone watching a Midsummer Night’s Dream knows that the actors are playing the roles of Bottoms and the other tradesmen in Shakespeare’s play playing actors putting on a play. In contrast to this meta-theatrical subtext, Puck says he will become an actor in their play if he has caused two but then instead of pretending in a performance he changes reality. This emphasizes the difference between the magic of theatre which requires the audience to willingly participate in the fiction and true magic which takes its victims unaware. Wordplay continues to be Shakespeare’s foundation of the humour of this scene.
Bottoms continue with malapropisms using wrong words substituting ‘odious’ for ‘odours’ and when he’s transformed he becomes a walking pun. He’s an ass headed man named Bottom who is already sort of an ass and his personality. Also, Bottom’s jokes are so bad even Titania who’s in love with him wants him to stop talking. She ends the scene by instructing her fairy servants to tie up her lover’s tongue and bring him silently. Love isn’t rational but it sure is magical.