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Summary Act 1

Scene 1

This scene takes place in Athens at the Palace of Theseus with Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate and Attendants.Theseus exclaims his excitement for his marriage to Hippolyta in four days. Hippolyta returns his excitement, explaining four days is a short time to wait. Theseus sends Philostrate to excite Athens for the wedding. Philostrate exits. Theseus explains he won her with his sword, but will wed her with triumph and reveling.

Egeus, Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius enter the room. Egeus greets Theseus warmly and explains that Hermia, his daughter, must marry Demetrius. However, Hermia has been seduced by Lysander, another man of high standing. Theseus advises Hermia that she is property of her father, so Egeus can do with her as he pleases, and therefore must marry as her father desires.

Hermia remarks that Lysander is also a worthy man, to which Theseus replies, he is but in this case not as worthy as Demetrius because of her father’s decision. Hermia asks the penalty for not abiding by her father’s wishes, so Theseus explains she must become a nun or die by Athenian Law. Hermia says that she cannot allow herself to be with Demetrius and will suffer what will come.

Theseus tells her to wait, give it until the next new moon, which is the day of Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding. If she has not changed her mind, then she will be killed or a nun of Diana.

Demetrius asks Hermia to relent and Lysander to let him have Hermia. Lysander states that Demetrius has Egeus’ love, so asks if Egeus and Demetrius should marry. Egeus scolds Lysander and explains Hermia should marry Demetrius because it is Egeus’ right to choose who she will marry. Lysander explains his love for Hermia and that he is Demetrius equal in all standings. Lysander also points out that Demetrius slept with another woman named Helena, then turned her out, as an example of Demetrius’ inconsistency.

Theseus explains he heard of Demetrius’ dealings with Helena and was not happy, but warns Hermia that she should change her mind about Lysander or by Athenian Law will be a Nun or dead. Theseus then takes Egeus, Demetrius and Hippolyta with to talk in another room.

Lysander and Hermia talk about how unfair it is that they cannot be wed. Lysander explains he has an Aunt in the country side where Athenian Law cannot reach, and they may be wed there. Lysander then suggests they meet a league outside town in the woods, to which Hermia agrees.

Helena then comes in, greeted by Hermia. Helena explains how envious of Hermia she is that Demetrius should love Hermia, and not Helena. The more Helena tries to get Demetrius’s attention, the less he likes her and the more Demetrius chases after Hermia. Lysander and Hermia explain their plan to Helena. Then Lysander and Hermia leave.

Helena decides to tell Demetrius of Hermia’s plan so Helena can get back Demtrius.

Scene II

This scene takes place at Quince’s house with Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, and Snout. They are all being told by Quince what parts they are to play in the play of Pyramus and Thisby. Quince explains that he play is marry, but with some sadness in it. Nick Bottom gets the part of Pyramus, and asks the type of character. Bottom explains he is a lover who kills himself for love. Francis Flute gets the part of Thisby, and must wear a mask. Robin Starveling is assigned Thisby’s mother, Tom Snout is assigned Thisby’s father. Snug is assigned the Lion. This ends with a conversation about wigs, and a plan to practice in the woods outside Athens.

William Shakespeare