4.04.2010

What a Dream!

A review of A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare

Reviewed by Abigail Owens


Our dreams tend to be quite eccentric a lot of the time (at least mine do). Because of this, the story/play A Midsummer Night’s Dream was very interesting for me. The wedding bells are ringing for the Athenians Theseus and Hippolyta. But that is not all going on in the play. A nobleman by the name of Egeus has a strapping young nobleman, Demetrius ready to marry his stunning daughter Hermia. There is just one little predicament; Hermia has no intentions of marrying Demetrius, and instead is prepared to elope with her true love, Lysander. Of course, Egeus sincerely disapproves of this. Meanwhile, a fair, but not near as stunning lady, Helena is head over heels in love with Demetrius, but naturally Demetrius does not love Helena one bit given that he is planning to wed Hermia. There are also the Workmen, consisting of Peter Quince (a carpenter), Nick Bottom (a weaver), Francis Flute (a bellows-mender), Tom Snout (a tinker), Robin Starveling (a tailor) and Snug (a joiner). This odd mixture of characters is planning a play to perform at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. Though it may sound like an impossible tangle of Christmas lights, the story is reasonably easy to follow.

Hermia and Lysander decide to up and run off to another town where they can be married without having Egeus prevent it. The path they decide to take leads through a nearby forest. The two let Helena in on their plans, but Helena informs Demetrius of this so that she might somehow make him fall in love with her. Demetrius follows Hermia and Lysander when they leave. Off they go, gallivanting off into the forest, but when night falls, strange things begin to happen.

The Workmen, for one reason or another, think they should rehearse their play in the woods, where no one will find them and catch a sneak peek. Incidentally, this wood happens to be the same wood. Once they start rehearsing, strange things start to happen as well.

Now is the time to introduce Oberon and Titania. They are the king and queen of the fairies. Being fairies, they can have no children, so Titania adopts a little boy, which starts a quarrel between Oberon and herself. Oberon wants the boy to serve him, and Titania does not. So Oberon decides that he will do something quite sly to get the boy from Titania. Oberon also has an assistant whose name is Puck.

Oberon hears about the Athenian lovers wandering in the forest, and decides to help out (or have Puck help out). He tells Puck to sprinkle the juice of a certain flower on Demetrius’ eyes; this juice causes one to fall in love with the next person they see, whether it be male, female, even an animal. Oberon tells Puck to do this, but to make sure the next person he sees is Helena. Well, off Puck goes to fulfill Oberon’s orders; the only thing is he has never seen Demetrius before. Puck happens upon Lysander, assumes he is Demetrius and sprinkles the flower juice on his eyes. What eventually happens, is Lysander is under an enchantment and is “in love” with Helena, who thinks Lysander is mocking her. But then Puck realizes this and sprinkles the juice on Demetrius’ eyes so that both Lysander and Demetrius are following Helena around. This brings Helena to tears because of what she thinks is mockery. Hermia on the other hand is trying to figure out what happened to her dear Lysander.

In the meantime, the Workmen are rehearsing in the woods, but Bottom disappears. When he returns, he has the head of a donkey and his friends run for their lives, not knowing it is Bottom. Bottom doesn’t know he has a donkey head either, until he sees his reflection in a pool. Puck is responsible for this.

Oberon then sprinkles the juice of the flower on his wife Titania’s eyes, so that she will fall in love with the next thing she sees. He hopes that he will be able to coax the little boy from her while she is enchanted, then he will release the enchantment. Oberon then has Puck lead Bottom to a place where Titania will see him, so that she will fall in love with him.

Hermia is still upset with Lysander, and Helena is still feeling teased. But Oberon and Puck are able to smooth things out, leaving Demetrius loving Helena, but taking the enchantment off of Lysander so he will love Hermia again. The lovers decide to head back home, having enough adventures already. Hermia and Lysander are granted permission to marry, because (obviously) Demetrius loves Helena. All’s well that ends well.

While Titania is doting on Bottom, the other Workmen are feeling hopeless since they lost an important character and they can’t seem to find Bottom. Eventually, once Oberon has completed his purpose, he removes the enchantment from Titania, and gives Bottom his normal head back. Bottom is off to Athens to find his friends; and Titania and Oberon are back in love, with all bumps in their relationship smoothed out. When Bottom returns, he finds his friends in the tavern, and they have a last minute rehearsal for the play.

At the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, the lovers are together and happy as ever. The Workmen’s play goes as well as their play could go. This play might be the most comical part of the whole play. It definitely had me laughing. Nonetheless, it was well intentioned.

This play is one of the best Shakespeare plays I have ever read. It has a little bit of everything, romance, magic, drama, comedy; it will not fail to entertain you. This is a classic, and you must read it if you even hope of having any knowledge of what good literature really is.

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