I. The Plot: Type: Romantic comedy ( 浪漫喜劇 ) Time: Remote antiquity ( 遙遠的古代 ) Locale: Athens ( 雅典 ) First presented: 1595
II. Principal Characters: Theseus: Duke of Athens 雅典公爵 Hippolyta: Theseus’ bride 其新娘 Oberon: King of the fairies 仙王 Titania: Queen of the fairies 仙后 Puck: a merry, mischievous elf 精靈 Egeus: a nobleman, Hermia’s father 貴族 Lysander and Hermia: 一對年輕戀人 Demetrius and Helena: 另一對年輕戀人 Peter Quince: a carpenter 木工 Nick Bottom: a weaver 織工
III. The Story: 第一幕 : Theseus is planning to wed Hippolyta. Egeus brings Hermia in and asks the Duke to use the law against his daughter because she disobeys her father by choosing Lysander instead of Demetrius for marriage. The Duke orders Hermia to obey her father. She and Lysander plan to escape to a wood outside of Athens. Meeting Helena, she tells her their plan. Helena decides to inform Demetrius of the plan. Meanwhile, a company of artisans (Quince, Bottom, etc.) are planning to present “The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisby” for the Duke’s wedding.
III. The Story: 第二幕 : Oberon and Titania quarrel over an Indian boy. Oberon asks Puck to find a magic flower and anoint Titania’s eyes with its juice. Demetrius comes to the wood, pursued by Helena. Seeing Demetrius’ lack of love for Helena, Oberon orders Puck to use the magic on him, too. Lysander and Hermia come in and rest for the night. Puck misapplies the juice on Lysander’s eyes. Helena comes to awaken him, and he loves her immediately, deserting Hermia.
The Story: 第三幕 : The artisans are rehearing their play. Puck comes, gives Bottom an ass’s head, and frightens the men away. Titania wakes up and falls in love with Bottom. Oberon finds that Puck has used the flower on the wrong Athenian and wants Puck to redress it. Demetrius is then charmed with the juice. Now, the situation is: Both Lysander and Demetrius are asking Helena for love, and it causes a bicker between the two girls. Finally, Puck lures the young men away to set everything right.
The Story: 第四幕 : Oberon gets the Indian boy, releases Titania from the charm, and restores Bottom to his normal state. Theseus and others enter the wood for a hunt. They find the four loves sleeping there. Learning their true hearts, Theseus decrees that the two couples shall be married company with himself and Hippolyta. Bottom awakens and believes he has had a dream.
The Story: 第五幕 : The three pairs of lovers are married. Theseus asks Bottom and others to perform the interlude. The rustics enact “Pyramus and Thisby” and make a bungle of it quite comically. It provides an amusing finale to an evening of delight.
IV. Famous Lines: “The course of true love never did run smooth.” --Lysander to Hermia “Sickness is catching; O were favor so, Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go.” --Helena to Hermia “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind; Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgment 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.” --Helena to Hermia
IV. Famous Lines: “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” --Puck to Oberon “And think no more of this night’s accidents But as the fierce vexation of a dream.” --Oberon “I never heard so musical a discord, such sweet thunder.” --Hippolyta “’A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus And his love Thisby, very tragical mirth’? Merry and tragical? Tedious and brief? That is hot ice, and wondrous strange snow! How shall we find the concord of this discord?” --Theseus
IV. Famous Lines: “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet Are of imagination all compact: One sees more devils than vast hell can hold; That is the madman: the lover, all as frantic, Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt: The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name.” --Theseus
V. Discussion: –What is Shakespeare’s view of love and marriage as suggested in the play? –How is the moon imagery related to the theme of this play? –Why is the play called a “midsummer night’s dream”? –Does the play suggest fatalism in that fairies control human acts?