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A Midsummer Night's Dream

  • Please see the bottom of this page for helpful Midsummer Night's Dream resources.
    Please see the bottom of each scene for extensive explanatory notes.

  • Dramatis Personae.
  • Act 1
  • Act 2
  • Act 3
  • Act 4
    • Scene 1. The same. Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Hermia.
    • Scene 2. Athens. Quince's house.
  • Act 5
    • Scene 1. Athens. The palace of Theseus.


Related Resources

 A Midsummer Night's Dream: Exam Questions and Answers
 Quick Questions and Answers by Scene
 An Overview of A Midsummer Night's Dream
 Shakespeare's Fairies: The Triumph of Dramatic Art

 A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Art of Plotting Mastered
 The Fundamental Idea of A Midsummer Night's Dream
 Exploring Shakespeare's Fairies

 Life in Shakespeare's London (Section on Fairies)
 How to Pronounce the Names in A Midsummer Night's Dream
 Famous Quotations from A Midsummer Night's Dream

 Unifying the Plots of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream
 The History of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream
 A True Gentleman: Examining Shakespeare's Theseus
 A Midsummer Night's Dream: Plot Summary

 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers
 Words Shakespeare Invented

 Why Study Shakespeare?
 Shakespeare's Queen Mab
 Shakespeare's Blank Verse

 Top 10 Shakespeare Plays
 Elements of Comedy
 How many plays did Shakespeare write?

 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
 Shakespeare's Attention to Details
 Shakespeare's Portrayals of Sleep

In the Spotlight

Quote in Context

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind:
Nor hath Love's mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste:
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
                              A Midsummer Night's Dream (1.1), Helena

In a soliloquy the forlorn Helena laments the inconstancy of love, and in doing so neatly summarizes the central theme of the play. Interestingly, Shakespeare owes the description of "wing'd Cupid painted blind" to Geoffery Chaucer, one of England's finest poets. Chaucer invokes the sightless winged god in several works, most notably in The Romaunt of the Rose:
And in his hande me thoughte I saugh him holde
Two fyry dartes, as the gledes rede;
And aungellyke his winges saugh I sprede.
And al be that men seyn that blind is he,
Al-gate me thoughte that he mighte see. (234-238)
In As You Like It, Rosalind, more feisty than the demure Helena, rails against Cupid as only she can:
No, that same wicked bastard of Venus that was begot
of thought, conceived of spleen and born of madness,
that blind rascally boy that abuses every one's eyes
because his own are out, let him be judge how deep I
am in love. (As You Like It, 4.1)

Points to Ponder

Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.
    A Midsummer Night's Dream (1.2), Flute

A carpenter named Quince and his fellow workmen, Snug the joiner, Bottom the weaver, Flute the bellows-mender, Snout the tinker, and Starveling the tailor gather in Quince's house. The group has heard that Theseus is to be wed and they want to produce a play in his honor. Quince, the director, announces that the play will be "The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby" (11-2), and he announces who will play which part. Flute's comment above is funny and apt because in Shakespeare's time, and for nearly a century thereafter, women were not allowed on the English stage. Boys whose voices had not changed were dressed in drag and forced to battle the challenging lines spoken by Shakespeare's great heroines. More about women on stage...