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
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.
3. Are these characters to be thought of as Athenians? If not, do they belong in this
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
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
10. In this and other scenes, how does Puck feel
about his mistakes?
Puck has no compunctions about any of
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
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.
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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