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Shakespeare Explained: Quick Questions on A Midsummer Night's Dream

For more questions with detailed answers, please see Examination Questions on A Midsummer Night's Dream.

ACT I SCENE I

1. Explain the relations between the four lovers.

Lysander and Hermia are in love with each other, but Hermia's father, Egeus, favors a second suitor, Demetrius, for his daughter. Demetrius has formerly been in love with Helena but has deserted her, although she still loves him.

2. Just why does each of the lovers go to the forest?

Hermia goes to the forest to meet Lysander with whom she is going to his aunt's to be married. Helena knows of it, so tells Demetrius so he can pursue them, she follows that she may watch him Lines 250-251 Scene i.

SCENE II

3. Are these characters to be thought of as Athenians? If not, do they belong in this play?

These characters are not to be thought of as true Athenians. They belong to the play. Athens was taken because to the English that was the city of beauty and the nearest approach to an ideal city.

4. What sort of a person is Bottom?

Bottom is a weaver, a thinker, an egotist and a tyrant.

ACT II SCENE I

5. Do these fairies make you think of Greece, or some other country?

These fairies remind one more of England than Greece. The references to the cowslips and to the housewife churning are truly English.

6. What are some of the lines that are most fairy-like?

The first fifteen lines of scene i are most fairy-like.

7. Are they represented with petty minds as well as tiny forms?

Titania is not represented with a petty mind although Oberon and Puck are.

8. What is the power of the magic plant, and how does Oberon mean to have it used?

The magic plant, love-in-idleness, makes the one to whom it is applied love the first thing he or she sees upon awaking. Oberon means to have it applied to Titania, so that she will give up the page before he will remove the charm from her.

9. How seriously are we to take this scene?

We are to take this scene as one of Puck's inimitable jokes.

10. In this and other scenes, how does Puck feel about his mistakes?

Puck has no compunctions about any of his mistakes.




ACT III SCENE I

11. Do the characters in this scene know that they are funny?

The characters in this scene have no idea that they are funny, in fact Bottom wishes the audience to be informed that he is Bottom to put them out of fear.

12. Show how Titania's fairy daintiness affects the humor of the closing part of the scene.

That the dainty fairy Titania could love the monster Bottom with the body of a man and the head of an ass adds much humor to this scene, especially when she calls Cobweb, Peaseblossom, and Mustard Seed to wait upon him.

13. Explain the confusion of the lovers here; how is it to be straightened out?

Oberon told Puck to put love-in-idleness on Demetrius, instead he put it on Lysander by mistake, then he puts it on Demetrius; both men see Helena on first awaking and scorn Hermia. Oberon tells Puck to put them to sleep when they go to fight a duel and put something on Lysander's eyes to break the charm.

ACT IV SCENE I

14. How far is Bottom turned into an ass, and how far does he remain his natural self?

Bottom is turned into an ass only in the shape of his head and what he wishes to eat. He still thinks as the Weaver Bottom did.

15. Is the hunting party a good addition to the play?

The hunting party makes the awakening of Lysander and Demetrius seem more natural and helps straighten out the confusion of the preceding scene.

16. When Bottom wakes, how much does he remember?

Bottom remembers that he thought he was an ass and had ass's ears.

ACT V SCENE I

17. Is Quince's prologue nonsense because of the way it was written, or of the way he recites it, or both?

Quince's prologue is nonsense because of the way it is written and the way in which he recites it.

18. What absurdities of stage-management occur in the mechanics' play?

The wall making a speech, and later showing a chink by holding up two fingers; the man with lantern, the dog and bush of thorn representing Moonshine; and Snug's announcement that he is not a real lion are a few of the absurdities.

19. Which of the actors makes the funniest blunders in language, and what trait of his character leads him to make them?

Pyramus makes the funniest blunders in language; his bombastic and dictatorial manner causes him to do this.

20. Do the comments of the spectators have any effect on the actors?

The comments of the spectators have no effect upon the actors so intent are they upon their play.

GENERAL

21. What popular beliefs are connected with Midsummer's Night?

Some of the popular beliefs are that whatever is wished on Midsummer's Night will come true; that after night-fall the fairies are all-powerful; that they often steal new brides, or turn cowslips sprinkled on the doorstep into flames to burn those who have harmed them.

22. Whose dream is meant Titania's, Bottom's, the lovers', or the reader's?

See lines 440 to 460 in Act IV. It is generally believed to refer to the audience.


How to cite this article:
Lunt, Forrest. Shakespeare Explained. New York: Hearst's International Library, 1915. Shakespeare Online. 10 Jan. 2011. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/midsummer/sceneq.html >.
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