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Thinking about A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Reconciliation of Titania and Oberon , Joseph Noel Paton, 1847 . A Midsummer Night's Dream – Introduction. It is unknown when MND was first written or performed, but it is usually dated between 1594 – 1596.

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thinking about a midsummer night s dream

Thinking about A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Reconciliation of Titania and Oberon, Joseph Noel Paton, 1847

a midsummer night s dream introduction
A Midsummer Night's Dream – Introduction
  • It is unknown when MND was first written or performed, but it is usually dated between 1594 – 1596.
  • May have been written for an aristocratic wedding or to celebrate the Feast of St. John
  • Midsummer Eve, or St. John’s Eve, was celebrated on June 23.
  • Categorized as a comedy, it is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works.

Titania Embracing Bottom, Henry Fuseli (1793)

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a midsummer night s dream the text
A Midsummer Night's Dream – The Text
  • First quarto edition published in 1600 by Thomas Fisher.
  • Second quarto edition published in 1619 by William Jaggard, as part of “False Folio.”
  • Included in First Folio of 1623.
  • First documented performance occurred at Court on Jan. 1, 1605.

Title page of first quarto, 1600

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a midsummer night s dream sources
A Midsummer Night's Dream – Sources
  • MND has no single source.
  • Unlike many of Shakespeare’s plays, it’s not an adaptation of another work.
  • Pyramus and Thisbe comes from Ovid’s The Metamorphosis.
  • Wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta comes from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
  • Other aspects of the play are derived from Roman comedic tradition and English folk tales.

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Thisbe, John Waterhouse (1909)

a midsummer night s dream quizzes
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Quizzes

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Edwin Landseer (1848)

mnd act i quiz click the for an answer
MND: Act I Quiz Click the for an answer.
  • Explain why Egeus has come to Theseus to complain about his daughter, Hermia. 
  • Why do Hermia and Lysander plan to visit his aunt who lives outside of Athens?
  • Who is Helena, and why does she decide to tell Demetrius about Hermia and Lysander’s plan?
  • What part will Bottom play in “Pyramus and Thisbe,” and how does Peter Quince convince Bottom to accept the part?
  • Why are the tradesmen worried about the lion’s part in their production?

Quizzes

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Explain why Egeus has come to Theseus to complain about his daughter, Hermia.Click anywhere for the answer.

Egeus has promised Hermia in marriage to Demetrius, who is in love with her.

However, Hermia has fallen in love with Lysander and refuses to obey her father.

Egeus demands that Hermia be punished if she refuses to obey his order to marry Demetrius.

Quizzes

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a midsummer night s dream quotations
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Quotations

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Titania Awakening, Henry Fuseli (1785-89)

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MND: Act I Quotations Click the  for an answer.

  • Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,And won thy love, doing thee injuries;But I will wed thee in another key,With pomp, with triumph and with revelling. 
  • Full of vexation come I, with complaintAgainst my child, my daughter…
  • The course of true love never did run smooth;
  • I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you, as 'twere any nightingale.

Quotations

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Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,And won thy love, doing thee injuries;But I will wed thee in another key,With pomp, with triumph and with revelling. Click anywhere for the answer.

Theseus explains that although he won Hippolyta’s love by conquering her in battle, their marriage will have a different tone, one of lavish celebration.

Quotations

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a midsummer night s dream characters
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Characters

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Titania, Henry MeynellRheam, date unknown

puck 1
Puck - 1
  • Also known as Robin Goodfellow, based on a figure from English mythology.
  • A mischievous fairy or spirit who delights in causing trouble for humans.
  • With Bottom, the only character in the play involved in all three plots.
  • Oberon’s servant, sent to obtain the magic flower struck by Cupid’s arrows.
  • Mistakenly doses the sleeping Lysander, instead of Demetrius, causing the comic confusion among the four Athenian lovers.

Vince Cardinale as Puck from the Carmel Shakespeare Festival production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sept., 2000

Characters

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puck 2
Puck - 2
  • Changes Bottom’s head to that of a donkey, causing Titania to fall in love with a beast and allowing Oberon to take the changeling boy from her.
  • Puck later separates Demetrius and Lysander by imitating their voices, and corrects his earlier mistake by causing Lysander to fall back in love with Hermia.
  • The four lovers awake believing the events of the previous night were a dream.
  • Puck ends the play suggesting that if the audience was offended, they should just pretend it was all a dream.

Puck, Joshua Reynolds, 1789

Characters

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the fairies
The Fairies
  • Fairies in medieval and Renaissance folklore were often described as having human form and magical powers.
    • Fairies have also been depicted in folklore as tall angels, short wizened trolls, tiny figures with wings or even small children.
    • Many stories revolve around humans protecting themselves from their malicious pranks or magic potions by avoiding locations they are known to inhabit.
    • Fairies were thought to disguise their appearance in the presence of humans.

Lily Fairy, Luis Ricardo Falero, 1888

Characters

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a midsummer night s dream themes
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Themes

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act IV Scene I, Henry Fuseli, 1796

love 1
Love - 1
  • Love is the central theme of the play.
  • Shakespeare examines many aspects of love by showing the behavior of six pairs of lovers:
  • Theseus and Hippolyta
  • Helena and Demetrius
  • Hermia and Lysander
  • Oberon and Titania
  • Titania and Bottom
  • Pyramus and Thisbe
  • Although the Athenian lovers and Titania are under Puck’s magic spell, Shakespeare is making fun of the way lovers act in real life.
    • Lovers are shown to be fickle and foolish.
    • Passionate love is brief and often based on appearances.
    • These themes have also been treated by Shakespeare in tragedies, such as Romeo and Juliet.

Themes

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love 2
Love - 2
  • Lysander’s oft-quoted comment in the opening scene sets the tone for the lovers’ struggles:
    • The course of true love never did run smooth;
    • Although the play focuses on the foolishness of lovers, the tone is lighthearted, as is appropriate for comedy.
    • Even the tragic story of the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe, as performed by the tradesmen, is a source of humor and entertainment.
  • The theme is resolved by the reconciliation of Oberon and Titania and by the triple wedding at the end of the play.

Themes

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a midsummer night s dream audio recordings
A Midsummer Night's Dream – Audio Recordings

Audio Files are not available in the preview version.

Act I

Click a Sound icon to play the entire act.

Click into the bar to advance the recording.

Act II

Act III

Cast

All audio files are downloaded from LibriVox.org and are in the public domain. More info.

Act IV

Act V

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a midsummer night s dream you tube videos
A Midsummer Night's Dream – You Tube Videos

Links to YouTube videos are not available in the preview version.

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