A Midsummer Night's Dream

By William Shakespeare

Yale University Press

Copyright © 2005 Burton Raffel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-300-10653-4

Chapter One


Theseus (Duke of Athens) Egeus (Hermia's father) Lysander (courtier in love with Hermia) Demetrius (courtier in love with Hermia) Philostrate (Theseus'Master of the Revels) Lords/Attendants

Peter Quince (carpenter: "Prologue") Snug (woodworker: "Lion") Nick Bottom (weaver: "Pyramus") Francis Flute (bellows mender: "Thisbe") Tom Snout (tinker: "Wall") Robin Starveling (tailor: "Moonshine")

Hippolyta (Queen of the Amazons) Hermia (in love with Lysander) Helena (in love with Demetrius)

Oberon (Fairy King) Titania (Fairy Queen) Puck / Robin Goodfellow (Oberon's jester) Peaseblossom (Titania's fairy) Cobweb (Titania's fairy) Moth (Titania's fairy) Mustardseed (Titania's fairy) Other Fairies

Act 1


Theseus' palace, Athens

ENTER Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate, and Attendants

Theseus Now fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour Draws on apace. Four happy days bring in Another moon. But O, methinks, how slow This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires, Like to a stepdame or a dowager 5 Long withering out a young man's revenue. Hippolyta Four days will quickly steep themselves in night, Four nights will quickly dream away the time, And then the moon, like to a silver bow New bent in heaven, shall behold the night 10 Of our solemnities. Theseus 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. 15

EXIT Philostrate

Hippolyta, I wooed 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 reveling.

ENTER Egeus, Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius

Egeus Happy be Theseus, our renown��d Duke! 20 Theseus Thanks, good Egeus. What's the news with thee? Egeus Full of vexation come I, with complaint Against my child, my daughter Hermia. Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord, This man hath my consent to marry her. 25 Stand forth, Lysander. And, my gracious Duke, This man hath bewitched 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, 30 With feigning voice, verses of feigning love, And stol'n the impression of her fantasy With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits, Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats - messengers Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth. 35 With cunning hast thou filched my daughter's heart, Turned her obedience, which is due to me, To stubborn harshness. And, my gracious Duke, Be it so she will not here before your Grace Consent to marry with Demetrius, 40 I beg the ancient privilege of Athens. As she is mine, I may dispose of her, Which shall be either to this gentleman Or to her death, according to our law, Immediately provided in that case. 45 Theseus What say you, Hermia? Be advised, fair maid. To you your father should be as a god, One that composed your beauties, yea, and one To whom you are but as a form in wax, By him imprinted, and within his power 50 To leave the figure or disfigure it. Demetrius is a worthy gentleman. Hermia So is Lysander. Theseus In himself he is. But in this kind, wanting your father's voice, The other must be held the worthier. 55 Hermia I would my father looked but with my eyes. Theseus Rather your eyes must with his judgment look. Hermia 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 60 In such a presence here to plead my thoughts. But I beseech your Grace that I may know The worst that may befall me in this case, If I refuse to wed Demetrius. Theseus Either to die the death, or to abjure, 65 For 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, 70 For aye to be in shady cloister mewed, To live a barren sister all your life, Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon. Thrice bless��d they that master so their blood To undergo such maiden pilgrimage. 75 But earthlier happy is the rose distilled Than that, which withering on the virgin thorn, Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness. Hermia So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord, Ere I will yield my virgin patent up 80 Unto his lordship, whose unwish��d yoke My soul consents not to give sovereignty. Theseus Take time to pause and, by the next new moon - The sealing day betwixt my love and me, For everlasting bond of fellowship - 85 Upon that day either prepare to die For disobedience to your father's will, Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would, Or on Diana's altar to protest For aye austerity and single life. 90 Demetrius Relent, sweet Hermia. And Lysander, yield Thy craz��d title to my certain right. Lysander You have her father's love, Demetrius. Let me have Hermia's. Do you marry him. Egeus Scornful Lysander! True, he hath my love, 95 And what is mine my love shall render him. And she is mine, and all my right of her I do estate unto Demetrius. Lysander I am, my lord, as well derived as he, As well possessed. My love is more than his, 100 My fortunes every way as fairly ranked, 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? 105 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. 110 Theseus 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. 115 I have some private schooling for you both. For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself To fit your fancies to your father's will, Or else the law of Athens yields you up - Which by no means we may extenuate - 120 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 business Against our nuptial, and confer with you 125 Of something nearly that concerns yourselves. Egeus With duty and desire we follow you. EXEUNT ALL BUT Lysander and Hermia

Lysander How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale? How chance the roses there do fade so fast? Hermia Belike for want of rain, which I could well 130 Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes. Lysander 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 - 135 Hermia O cross! Too high to be enthralled to low. Lysander Or else misgraffed in respect of years - Hermia O spite! Too old to be engaged to young. Lysander Or else it stood upon the choice of friends - 140 Hermia O hell! To choose love by another's eyes. Lysander 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 145 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. Hermia If then true lovers have been ever crossed, 150 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. 155 Lysander A good persuasion. Therefore hear me, Hermia. I have a widow aunt, a dowager Of great revenue, and she hath no child. From Athens is her house remote seven leagues. And she respects me as her only son. 160 There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee. And to that place the sharp Athenian law Cannot pursue us. If thou lov'st me then, Steal forth thy father's house tomorrow night. And in the wood, a league without the town, 165 Where I did meet thee once with Helena To do observance to a morn of May, There will I stay for thee. Hermia My good Lysander, I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow, By his best arrow with the golden head, 170 By the simplicity of Venus' doves, By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves, And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen When the false Troyan under sail was seen, By all the vows that ever men have broke, 175 In number more than ever women spoke, In that same place thou hast appointed me, Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee. Lysander Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.

ENTER Helena Hermia God speed, fair Helena. Whither away? 180 Helena 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 air More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear. 185 Sickness is catching. O were favor 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, 190 The rest I'd give to be to you translated. O teach me how you look, and with what art You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart. Hermia I frown upon him, yet he loves me still. Helena O that your frowns would teach my smiles such 195 skill! Hermia I give him curses, yet he gives me love. Helena O that my prayers could such affection move! Hermia The more I hate, the more he follows me. Helena The more I love, the more he hateth me. Hermia His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine. 200 Helena None but your beauty. Would that fault were mine. Hermia Take comfort: he no more shall see my face. Lysander and myself will fly this place. Before the time I did Lysander see, Seemed Athens as a paradise to me. 205 O then what graces in my love do dwell, That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell. Lysander Helen, to you our minds we will unfold. Tomorrow night, when Phoebe doth behold Her silver visage in the wat'ry glass, 210 Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass - A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal - Through Athens' gates have we devised to steal. Hermia And in the wood, where often you and I Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie, 215 Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet, There my Lysander and myself shall meet, And thence from Athens turn away our eyes, To seek new friends and stranger companies. Farewell, sweet playfellow. Pray thou for us. And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius. Keep word, Lysander. We must starve our sight From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight. Lysander I will, my Hermia.

EXIT Hermia Helena, adieu. As you on him, Demetrius dote on you. 225

EXIT Lysander

Helena How happy some o'er other some can be! Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so. He will not know what all but he do know, And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes, So I, admiring of his qualities. 230 Things base and vile, holding no quantity, Love can transpose to form and dignity. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind. And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind. 235 Nor hath Love's mind of any judgment taste: Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste. And therefore is Love said to be a child, Because in choice he is so oft beguiled. As waggish boys in game themselves forswear, 240 So the boy, Love, is perjured everywhere. For ere Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyne, He hailed down oaths that he was only mine. And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt, So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt. 245 I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight. Then to the wood will he tomorrow night Pursue her, and for this intelligence If I have thanks, it is a dear expense. But herein mean I to enrich my pain, 250 To have his sight thither and back again.



Athens. Quince's house

ENTER Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, And Starveling

Quince Is all our company here?

Bottom You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip.

Quince Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the 5 Duke and the Duchess, on his wedding day at night.

Bottom First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point.

Quince Marry, our play is, "The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and This be."

Bottom A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.

Quince Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.

Bottom Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed. 15

Quince You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.

Bottom What is Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant? Quince A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.


Excerpted from A Midsummer Night's Dreamby William Shakespeare Copyright © 2005 by Burton Raffel. Excerpted by permission.
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