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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A comedy by William Shakespeare

As summarised by Rohini Chowdhury


Classics Retold




Lav and Kush, the Royal Twins - from the Ramayana



A Midsummer Night's Dream - by William Shakespeare




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One of Shakespeare's most charming plays, this was was written sometime in 1595 or 1596. It was first printed in 1600. Shakespeare drew on folklore, Greek mythology, as well as the works of several other writers for his story.The plot is fairly complicated, but resolves itself with wit and elegance.

There are four distinct groups of characters in the play:

1.  The court of Theseus, Duke of Athens, on the eve of his wedding to Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. Theseus' court provides the backdrop to the play. Theseus and Hippolyta are both drawn from Greek mythology.

2.  The four lovers, Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius. Their confusions form the main action in the play.

3.  A group of Athenian artisans and tradesmen, whose names and trades - Nick Bottom the weaver, Francis Flute the bellows-mender, Robin Starveling the tailor, Tom Snout the tinker, Peter Quince the carpenter, and Snug the joiner - show them to be English tradesmen typical of Shakespeare's own day. They celebrate Theseus' wedding night by performing a short play, Pyramus and Thisbe. The play is meant to be tragic, but is very very funny as performed by them.

4.  The fairies who live in the wood. Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, and most of the other fairies are taken from English folklore. Oberon, the fairy king, is drawn from the medieval French romance Huon of Bordeaux, and Titania the fairy queen, from Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Now read a summary of the play...

A Midsummer Night's Dream cont'd...  next page
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See also: Oberon     Titania     Puck

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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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