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Video:Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream Overview

with Becky Beth Benedict

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is probably Shakespeare's most widely-read comedy, and one of the most entertaining. Get some major characters and plot points in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in this video from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream Overview

Hi! I'm Becky Beth Benedict and I'm here for About.com. Today, we're going to talk about an overview of A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare.

Setting the Plot for Midsummer

Theseus, Duke of Athens, needs entertainment for his wedding to Hippolyta. Theseus is also called upon to mediate in a disagreement between Hermia and her father. Hermia's father wants her to marry Demetruis, who is in love with her. Hermia and Lysander are in love with each other and hope to marry. Theseus tells her she must follow her father's wishes.

Hermia and Lysander run away into the woods. Helena, Hermia's friend is in love with Lysander and tells him where Hermia went and follows him into the woods.

Puck, the Fairies, and the Forest

A group of players, known as the mechanicals, made of our simple tradesman, rehearse a play in the woods, hoping to be chosen to perform at the royal wedding. The woods are inhabited by fairies whose King (Oberon) and Queen (Titania), are estranged from one another. Puck, Oberon's devious fairy, is sent to drop the love spell juice of a flower into Titania's eyes so that she falls in love with the next thing she sees, which happens to be Bottom, one of the mechanicals who wears the head of an ass.

Oberon spies Demetruis mistreating Helena cruelly as she follows him on his quest to find Hermia, so Puck is sent to drop the love potion into Demetrius's eye. However, Puck puts the love flower drops into Lysander eyes, who sees Helena and is now in love with her.

Puck tries again, but now both men are in love with Helena. The lovers quarrel with their competitors as they traipse about the forest.

A Happy Ending

Eventually Oberon sets everything right with the flower and reunites with Titania. When the lovers awake Hermia and Lysander love each other again, and Helena and Demetrius now love each other. The Duke and Hippolyta discover the lovers sleeping in the woods and bring them to the palace to wed alongside the royals. The mechanicals are chosen to present their play at the wedding. When the couples hasten to their wedding beds the fairies bless their unions, while Puck asks the audience to think of this play as if it were a dream.

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