Comedies

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#1/Chauvinism/Act 1, Scene 1.1

We promptly learn that Theseus is the duke of Athens and
that he is preoccupied with near-term plans to marry Hippolyta.  As the duke of Athens, Theseus has plenty of authority.  Egeus enters with his daughter, the very
attractive, we’re told, Hermia, and two young men, Lysander and Demetrius, both
at this moment having an interest in the young Hermia.  Theseus innocently asks Egeus, “Good
Egeus.  What’s the news with thee?”  An angry Egeus says “Come I with complaint
against my child, my daughter Hermia.”  He proceeds to claim that Lysander has
“bewitched my child; that he hast given her rhymes, interchanged love tokens
with my child; hast by moonlight at her window sung verses of feigning love and
stol’n her fantasy with bracelets, rings, and trifles.  With cunning he hath filched my daughter’s
heart, turning her obedience to stubborn harshness.  My gracious duke, I beg the ancient privilege
of Athens: as she is mine, I may dispose of her to Demetrius or to her death.”

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#2/Intrigue/Act 1, Scene 1.2

For whatever reasons, Egeus believes that Demetrius would
make the better son-in-law.  Theseus,
good politician that he is, turns to Hermia and says “What say you,
Hermia?  Demetrius is a worthy
gentleman.”  Hermia answers legitimately
“So is Lysander.  I would my father
looked but with my eyes.  I beseech your
Grace that I may know the worst that may befall me in this case if I refuse to
wed Demetrius.”  Looking at Egeus, Theseus
responds “Either to die the death, or to forswear forever the company of men.  If you yield not to your father’s choice, you
can endure the life of a nun.”  Hermia
replies “So will I so die, my lord.”
With diplomatic skill, Theseus says to Hermia “take time to pause, and
by the next new moon either prepare to die or else to wed Demetrius.”  After a pause, Theseus says “Demetrius, come,
and come Egeus; you shall go with me.  I
have some private schooling for you both.”
All but Hermia and Lysander exit.
Lysander says “Ay me!  The course
of true love never did run smooth.  Hear
me, Hermia.  I have a widow aunt and she
hath no child.  From Athens is her house
remote seven leagues, and she respects me as her only son.  There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee.  Steal forth thy father’s house tomorrow night
and in the wood a league without the town will I stay for thee.”  Hermia says “Tomorrow truly will I meet with
thee.”

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#3/Envy/Act 1, Scene 1.3

Hermia greets Helena as she enters with “Hello, fair
Helena.”  Helena is Demetrius’ long-time
girlfriend.  They are engaged.  Helena and Hermia have been the best of
friends dating to childhood.  Helena
responds “Call you me ‘fair?’  That
‘fair’ again unsay.  Demetrius loves your
fair.  O, teach me how you look and with
what art you sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart!”  Hermia responds “I frown upon him, yet he
loves me still.”  Helena replies “O, that
your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!”
Hermia says “Take comfort; he no more shall see my face.  Lysander and I will fly this place.”  Lysander adds “Helen, to you our minds we will
unfold.  Tomorrow night through Athens’
gates have we devised to steal.”  Hermia
cuts in saying “In the wood where often you and I were wont to lie, there by
Lysander and I shall meet.  Pray thou for
us, and good luck grant thee thy Demetrius.”
Hermia and Lysander exit.

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#4/Determination/Act 1, Scene 1.4

Alone and frightened for her future, Helena says to
herself “Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.  But what of that?  Demetrius thinks not so.  Love looks not with the eyes but with the
mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.  Love is said to be a child because in choice
he is so oft beguiled.  Before Demetrius
looked on Hermia’s eyes, he hailed down oaths that he was only mine; and when
this hail some heat from Hermia felt, so he dissolved, and show’rs of oaths did
melt.  I will go tell him of fair
Hermia’s flight.  Then to the wood will
he tomorrow night pursue her.”  Convinced
Demetrius will follow Lysander and Hermia through the woods, Helena believes
her best course of action is to pursue him.
She says “Herein mean I to enrich my pain, to have his sight thither and
back again.”

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#5/Humor/Act 1, Scene 2

Separately, a group of tradesmen from Athens hope to
perform the skit “Pyramus and Thisbe” at the reception following Theseus and
Hippolyta’s wedding.  Quince, the
director, says “Here is the scroll of every man’s name who is to play in our
interlude before the duke and duchess on his wedding day at night. Quince says
“You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.”
Bottom asks “What is Pyramus —- a lover or a tyrant?”  Quince answers “A lover that kills himself
most gallant for love.”  Bottom responds
“That will ask some tears in the true performing of it.  If I do it, let the audience look to their
eyes.  I will move storms.”  Quince continues, saying “Flute, you must
take Thisbe on you.”  Flute asks “What is
Thisbe —- a wand’ring knight?”  Quince
answers “It is the lady that Pyramus must love.”  Quince says “Snug the joiner, you the lion’s
part.”  Bottom interrupts, saying “Let me
play the lion too.  I will roar that I
will do any man’s heart good to hear me.”
Quince says “You can play no part but Pyramus, for Pyramus is a
sweet-faced man, a most lovely gentlemanlike man.  Therefore you must needs play Pyramus.”  Quince adds “I am entreat you, request you,
tomorrow night to meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by
moonlight.  There will we rehearse.  At the Duke’s Oak we meet.”

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#6/Fantasy/Act 2, Scene 1.1

Oberon and Titania are the king and queen of the
fairies.  They live in the woods outside
Athens.  Robin Goodfellow is the fairy
king’s mischievous spirit, also known as Puck.
All is not well between this king and queen.  Robin tells us that “Oberon is very angry
with her because she hath a boy stolen from an Indian king.”  Oberon the fairy king is jealous.  Robin describes himself as “that merry
wanderer of the night.  I jest to Oberon
and make him smile.”  Oberon and Titania
enter from different sides of the stage.
Oberon says “Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.”  She replies “What, jealous Oberon?”  Oberon says “Am I not thy lord.  Why should Titania cross her Oberon?”  Titania says “Set your heart at rest.  His mother was a vot’ress of my order.  For her sake do I rear up her boy, and for
her sake I will not part with him.”
Oberon says “Give me that boy and I will go with thee.”  She firmly replies “Not for thy fairy kingdom.”  She exits.

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#7/Fantasy/Act 2, Scene 1.2

An upset but composed Oberon says “Puck, come
hither.  Thou rememb’rest since once I
saw upon a promontory and heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back uttering such a
dulcet and harmonious breath that the rude sea grew civil at her song and
certain stars shot madly from their spheres to hear the sea-maid’s music.”  Robin says “I remember.”  Oberon continues “That very time I saw flying
between the cold moon and the earth, Cupid all armed.  A certain aim he took and loosed his arrow
smartly from his bow as it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts.  Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid
fell.  It fell upon a little western
flower, before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound, and maidens call it
“love-in-idleness.”  That flower became
the pansy.  “Fetch me that flower.  The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid will
make a man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees.  Fetch me this herb.”  Robin says “I’ll put a girdle round about the
earth in forty minutes.”   Oberon says to
himself “Having once this juice, I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep and drop
the liquor of it in her eyes.  The next
thing then she, waking, looks upon she shall pursue it with the soul of
love.  But who comes here?  I am invisible, and I will overhear their
conference.”  Demetrius enters, running,
with Helena following him close behind.

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#8/Spurned/Act 2, Scene 1.3

Pausing for a moment, Demetrius turns to Helena and
angrily says “I love thee not; therefore pursue me not.  Where is Lysander and fair Hermia?  Thou told’st me they were stol’n unto this
wood, and here am I.  Get thee gone, and
follow me no more.”  Helena responds “You
draw me, you hard-hearted magnet!  Leave
you your power to draw, and I shall have no power to follow you.”  Demetrius says “Do I speak you fair?  I cannot love you.”  Helena replies “I am your spaniel.  The more you beat me I will fawn on you.  I beg in your love.”  Demetrius says “I am sick when I do look on
thee.”  Helena responds “I am sick when I
look not on you.”  Demetrius continues
his harshness, saying  “I’ll run from
thee and hide in the thickets and leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.”  Helena says “Your wrongs do set a scandal on
my sex.  We cannot fight for love as men
may do.  We should be wooed and were not
made to woo.”  Demetrius exits.

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#9/Spurned/Act 2, Scene 1.4

Having overheard the serious conversation between
Demetrius and Helena, Oberon turns to Puck saying “Hast thou the flower
there?”  Robin says “Ay, there it
is.”  Oberon says “I know a bank where
the wild thyme blows and where oxlips and the nodding violet grow.  There sleeps Titania sometime of the night
and with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes.  Take some of it and seek through this
grove.  A sweet Athenian lady is in love
with a disdainful youth.  Anoint his
eyes, but do it when the next thing he spies may be the lady.  Thou shalt know the man by the Athenian
garments he hath on.  Effect it with some
care, so that he may prove more fond on her than she upon her love.”  Robin replies “Fear not, my lord.  Your servant shall do so.”  They exit.

Abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream/#10/Love/Act 2, Scene 2.1

Meanwhile, Titania asks her fairy aides to “sing me now
asleep.  Then to your offices and let me
rest.”  Titania falls asleep.  Oberon anoints her eyelids with the nectar and
says “What thou seest when thou dost wake, do it for thy true love take.  Love and languish for his sake.”  He exits.
Lysander and Hermia enter.
Lysander says “I have forgot our way.
We’ll rest us, Hermia.”  Hermia
says “Find you out a bed.  For I upon
this bank will rest my head.”  He says
“One turf shall serve as pillow for us both.”
Hermia says “Lie further off in human modesty.  Such separation becomes a virtuous bachelor
and a maid.”  Lysander says “Amen, amen
to that fair prayer, say I.  Here is my
bed.  Sleep gives thee all his
rest!”  They fall asleep.  Robin enters, sees Lysander and says “This is
he my master said.”  He anoints
Lysander’s eyelids with the nectar and exits.
Demetrius and Helena then enter, running.  Helena cries “Stay, though thou kill me,
sweet Demetrius.”  Demetrius says “I
charge thee, do not haunt me thus.  Stay
on thy peril.  I alone will go.”  He exits.
Helena says “O, I am out of breath in this fond chase.  Happy is Hermia, wheresoe’er she lies, for
she has blessed and attractive eyes.”  Helena
has no idea who is sleeping nearby.