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One of Shakespeare's most popular works, A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy play following events surrounding marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta. The play is set in a forest where several young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors are being controlled and manipulated by the fairies inhabiting the forest.
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
LONDON ∙ NEW YORK ∙ TORONTO ∙ SAO PAULO ∙ MOSCOW
PARIS ∙ MADRID ∙ BERLIN ∙ ROME ∙ MEXICO CITY ∙ MUMBAI ∙ SEOUL ∙ DOHA
TOKYO ∙ SYDNEY ∙ CAPE TOWN ∙ AUCKLAND ∙ BEIJING
Published by Sovereign Classic
First published in 2015
Copyright © 2015 Sovereign Classic
THESEUS, Duke of Athens
EGEUS, father to Hermia
LYSANDER, in love with Hermia
DEMETRIUS, in love with Hermia
PHILOSTRATE, Master of the Revels to Theseus
QUINCE, a carpenter
SNUG, a joiner
BOTTOM, a weaver
FLUTE, a bellows-mender
SNOUT, a tinker
STARVELING, a tailor
HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the Amazons, bethrothed to Theseus
HERMIA, daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander
HELENA, in love with Demetrius
OBERON, King of the Fairies
TITANIA, Queen of the Fairies
PUCK, or ROBIN GOODFELLOW
PROLOGUE, PYRAMUS, THISBY, WALL, MOONSHINE, LION are presented by: QUINCE, BOTTOM, FLUTE, SNOUT, STARVELING, AND SNUG
Other Fairies attending their King and Queen
Attendants on Theseus and Hippolyta
SCENE: Athens and a wood near it
SCENE I. ATHENS. THE PALACE OF THESEUS.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, and Attendants
Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hourDraws on apace; four happy days bring inAnother moon: but, O, methinks, how slowThis old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,Like to a step-dame or a dowagerLong withering out a young man revenue.
Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;Four nights will quickly dream away the time;And then the moon, like to a silver bowNew-bent in heaven, shall behold the nightOf our solemnities.
Go, Philostrate,Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;Turn melancholy forth to funerals;The pale companion is not for our pomp.
Hippolyta, I woo’d thee with my sword,And won thy love, doing thee injuries;But I will wed thee in another key,With pomp, with triumph and with revelling.
Enter EGEUS, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and DEMETRIUS
Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!
Thanks, good Egeus: what’s the news with thee?
Full of vexation come I, with complaintAgainst my child, my daughter Hermia.Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,This man hath my consent to marry her.Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke,This man hath bewitch’d the bosom of my child;Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,And interchanged love-tokens with my child:Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,With feigning voice verses of feigning love,And stolen the impression of her fantasyWith bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits,Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats, messengersOf strong prevailment in unharden’d youth:With cunning hast thou filch’d my daughter’s heart,Turn’d her obedience, which is due to me,To stubborn harshness: and, my gracious duke,Be it so she; will not here before your graceConsent to marry with Demetrius,I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,As she is mine, I may dispose of her:Which shall be either to this gentlemanOr to her death, according to our lawImmediately provided in that case.
What say you, Hermia? be advised fair maid:To you your father should be as a god;One that composed your beauties, yea, and oneTo whom you are but as a form in waxBy him imprinted and within his powerTo leave the figure or disfigure it.Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
So is Lysander.
In himself he is;But in this kind, wanting your father’s voice,The other must be held the worthier.
I would my father look’d but with my eyes.
Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.
I do entreat your grace to pardon me.I know not by what power I am made bold,Nor how it may concern my modesty,In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;But I beseech your grace that I may knowThe worst that may befall me in this case,If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
Either to die the death or to abjureFor ever the society of men.Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;Know of your youth, examine well your blood,Whether, if you yield not to your father’s choice,You can endure the livery of a nun,For aye to be in shady cloister mew’d,To live a barren sister all your life,Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood,To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;But earthlier happy is the rose distill’d,Than that which withering on the virgin thornGrows, lives and dies in single blessedness.
So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,Ere I will my virgin patent upUnto his lordship, whose unwished yokeMy soul consents not to give sovereignty.
Take time to pause; and, by the next new moon--The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,For everlasting bond of fellowship--Upon that day either prepare to dieFor disobedience to your father’s will,Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;Or on Diana’s altar to protestFor aye austerity and single life.
Relent, sweet Hermia: and, Lysander, yieldThy crazed title to my certain right.
You have her father’s love, Demetrius;Let me have Hermia’s: do you marry him.
Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,And what is mine my love shall render him.And she is mine, and all my right of herI do estate unto Demetrius.
I am, my lord, as well derived as he,As well possess’d; my love is more than his;My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d,If not with vantage, as Demetrius’;And, which is more than all these boasts can be,I am beloved of beauteous Hermia:Why should not I then prosecute my right?Demetrius, I’ll avouch it to his head,Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena,And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,Upon this spotted and inconstant man.
I must confess that I have heard so much,And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;But, being over-full of self-affairs,My mind did lose it. But, Demetrius, come;And come, Egeus; you shall go with me,I have some private schooling for you both.For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourselfTo fit your fancies to your father’s will;Or else the law of Athens yields you up--Which by no means we may extenuate--To death, or to a vow of single life.Come, my Hippolyta: what cheer, my love?Demetrius and Egeus, go along:I must employ you in some businessAgainst our nuptial and confer with youOf something nearly that concerns yourselves.
With duty and desire we follow you.
Exeunt all but LYSANDER and HERMIA
How now, my love! why is your cheek so pale?How chance the roses there do fade so fast?
Belike for want of rain, which I could wellBeteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,Could ever hear by tale or history,The course of true love never did run smooth;But, either it was different in blood,--
O cross! too high to be enthrall’d to low.
Or else misgraffed in respect of years,--
O spite! too old to be engaged to young.
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends,--
O hell! to choose love by another’s eyes.
Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,Making it momentany as a sound,Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;Brief as the lightning in the collied night,That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’The jaws of darkness do devour it up:So quick bright things come to confusion.
If then true lovers have been ever cross’d,It stands as an edict in destiny:Then let us teach our trial patience,Because it is a customary cross,As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,Wishes and tears, poor fancy’s followers.
A good persuasion: therefore, hear me, Hermia.I have a widow aunt, a dowagerOf great revenue, 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;And to that place the sharp Athenian lawCannot pursue us. If thou lovest me then,Steal forth thy father’s house to-morrow night;And in the wood, a league without the town,Where I did meet thee once with Helena,To do observance to a morn of May,There will I stay for thee.
My good Lysander!I swear to thee, by Cupid’s strongest bow,By his best arrow with the golden head,By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,And by that fire which burn’d the Carthage queen,When the false Troyan under sail was seen,By all the vows that ever men have broke,In number more than ever women spoke,In that same place thou hast appointed me,To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.
Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.
God speed fair Helena! whither away?
Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue’s sweet airMore tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear,When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody.Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,The rest I’d give to be to you translated.O, teach me how you look, and with what artYou sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.
I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!
I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
O that my prayers could such affection move!
The more I hate, the more he follows me.
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