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"A Midsummer Night's Dream" was written by William Shakespeare, who was born in Stratfort-upon-Avon, in 1564. After he had attended the Stratfort School, he married in November 1582 Anne Hathaway and five years later they got their first daughter. For whatever reason, he went to London and became an actor- dramatist. In the beginning of his career he was both actor and writer. His earliest plays were Henry VI, Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, Titus and Andronicus,... all of them were written in 1952. Other important plays are Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet and of course A Midsummer Night's dream (one of his earlier comedies).
He died on 23rd April, 1616 in London.
Published :It´s a Spring Book, published by The Hamlyn PublishingGroup Limited. It was first published in 1958 under the title "The CompleteWorks of William Shakespeare".
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It´s a play about an entertainment more obvious than a realistic representation of what life is like. So it is more a comedy which may have moments that disturb, but it will find its way past them to a happy ending and a celebration in harmony and with good hope for the future. It is the story about four different plots which I will describe more exactly in the plot synopsis.
The most important persons:
There are four different groups of characters:
Theseus and Hippolyta; the young lovers Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia and
Helena; Oberon, Titania and the fairies with Puck; Bottom and the Anthenian
Theseus: He is the Duke of Athens and chief administrator of the law.
Hippolyta: She is the Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus.
Oberon: He is the King of the fairies. He is jealous that Titania will not
allow him to have her cheeriched Indian boy to serve as his page and gains
revenge by using a magic flower to make her love the transformed Bottom.
Titania: She is the Queen of the fairies. After she was bewitched by the
magic flower, she fell in love with the goss Bottom, made even gosser than
usual by the ass's head he got from Puck. She is a proud woman. She also has
a special friendship with the mother of the Indian boy, which the whole
quarrel is about.
Egeus: He is the father of Hermia and wants her, by law, to marry Demetrius.
Lysander: He loves Hermia really and flees with her to the near forest.
Demetrius: He loves Hermia too and Hermia's father wants him to marry
her, but after he got the magic juice in his eyes, he loves Helena.
Hermia: She is the daughter of Egeus. She is in love with Lysander, but her
father wants her to marry Demetrius.
Helena: She loves Demetrius and she is what Demetrius thinks beautiful,
but he is distinguish from Hermia by her greater height and appearence.
Puck: He is the fairy-lieutnant, so he is able to fly. But he is not allknowing, what is shown to us, the spectators, by his mistake, as he mistakes Lysander for Dymetrius and the other way round.
The Athenian workmen:
Quince: the Carpenter
Snug: the Joiner
Flute: the Bellows-mender
Snout: the Tinker
Starvelling: the Tailor
Bottom: He is slightly dull, naive and unintelligent but he is also enthusiastic, creative, self confident, honest and laughable. He is one of the Athenian workmen and works as a weaver. All assemble under Quince's direction to cast the play of "Pyramus and Thisby", which they would like to play for the duke's wedding. So they meet for rehearsals in the wood.
There are two stage-changes. The set starts in Athens, goes on into a near wood and back to Athens in the end of the play. Like there are four groups of persons, there are four different plots which were woven together: First, the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, second, the love- adventures of Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius and Helena, third the quarrel between Oberon and Titania, his Queen, and last but not least the rehearsal and the rehearsals and the performance of Bottom and the Athenian workmen, of the play of "Pyramus and Thisby".
This story happened in Greece. There was a law which made young women very unhappy. By that law a
father could choose any man and make his daughter marry him. One day Egeus brought his daughter Hermia to the Duke of Athens. Egeus wanted Hermia to marry Demetrius, a powerful man. But there was also Lysander. Hermia loved Lysander and so they made a plan to run away in the evening. Later Helena came, but she was very angry, because she loved Demetrius and thought that Hermia loved Demetrius. But that was false. So
Hermia told her about their plan. Helena told it to Demetrius, because she hoped that he would come back with her when he was looking for them. In the evening there were a lot of people where Lysander and Hermia wanted
to meet. Those people were fairies. Oberon and Titania were there too. They had a quarrel because she didn´t want to give him her little boy. Some time later, when he was alone, the king called Puck. Oberon ordered
that he should bring him the flower which let a man or a woman fall in love with the next person he or she saw.
While Puck was looking for the flower, Demetrius and Helena passed the wood near Oberon. On their way to Hermia and Lysander, Demetrius told Helena that he didn´t love her. Oberon could see and hear that. When Puck came with the flower, the king put a trifle into the queen´s eyes and because he was sad about Helena, he told Puck to put the same into Demetrius's eyes. As Puck followed the advice of his king, he also saw workmen in the wood. As suddenly one of these man went directly to Puck's hiding-place, Puck changed the man´s (Bottoms) head into a donkey´s head. When Bottom returned to the others, they ran away, but he could understand them and so he started to sing. Because of the singing Titania woke up and the magic flowerpower began to work. She fell in love with the donkey-Bottom. At the same time Puck put the flower into Lysander´s eyes because he thought that it was Demetrius. Later Helena found Lysander while he was still sleeping and she woke him up. As a result, he loved Helena, but he didn´t love Hermia any more.
Hermia looked for Lysander but she found Demetrius. Then she went on and he fell asleep. The king and Puck saw them and then the king, Oberon, ordered Puck to do it right then. So he put the flower into Demetrius´eyes too, who saw Helena now first. Later the four men met and they began to quarrel. The king told Puck to put the flower in all of their eyes after the fight, when they had fallen asleep, to correct all mistakes. Then everything would be alright again.
After this little adventure Oberon went to his queen and took away the power of the flower. When she woke up later, she thought that everything had been a dream. She loved Oberon again. In the end Lysander loved Hermia, Demetrius loved Helena and Theseus loved Hippolyta. All three couples married later. Bottom got back his original
head, and so the Athenian workmen could perform "Pyramus and Thisby" at the wedding ceremony.
Ideas, opinions and comments:
I think Shakespeare has put a symbolism into that play. The movement of the scenes could mean that the actors leave the real world for a short time, and enter a dreamworld, to solve their problems there and come back, when all problems are solved. I watched the play in Vienna's English Theatre, so I really enjoyed reading the book because I already knew what would happen a moment later. It was also a great help for me to know the global connections, for reading without having seen the play on stage, it would have been more difficult to understand it. I really recommend everyone to watch the play first and read it afterwards. This makes Shakespeare more attractive for adolescents.