A Midsummer Nights Dream

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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

by William Shakespeare

Persons Represented.

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, the Carpenter. SNUG, the Joiner. BOTTOM, the Weaver. FLUTE, the Bellows-mender. SNOUT, the Tinker. STARVELING, the 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, a Fairy. PEASBLOSSOM, Fairy. COBWEB, Fairy. MOTH, Fairy. MUSTARDSEED, Fairy.

PYRAMUS, THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, LION } Characters in the Interlude performed by the Clowns.

Other Fairies attending their King and Queen. Attendants on Theseus and Hippolyta.

SCENE: Athens, and a wood not far from it.

ACT I.

SCENE I. Athens. A room in the Palace of THESEUS.

[Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, and Attendants.]

THESEUS Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour Draws on apace; four happy days bring in Another moon; but, oh, methinks, how slow This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires, Like to a step-dame or a dowager, Long withering out a young man's revenue.

HIPPOLYTA Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights; 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 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. --

[Exit PHILOSTRATE.]

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.]

EGEUS Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!

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:-- 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 interchang'd love-tokens with my child: Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung, 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 unharden'd youth;-- With cunning hast thou filch'd 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, 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.

THESEUS What say you, Hermia? be advis'd, fair maid: To you your father should be as a god; One that compos'd your beauties: yea, and one To whom you are but as a form in wax, By him imprinted, and within his power 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.

HERMIA I would my father look'd 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 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 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; For aye to be 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 thorn, Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.

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