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Free Study Guide-A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare-Free
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ACT II, SCENE 2

Summary

Titania orders her fairies to sing a song and then proceed with their tasks of gathering canker from the musk-nose buds and making coats for themselves. Also, some of them must keep the roosting owls away so that she can sleep peacefully. As the fairies sing, Titania falls asleep. Oberon enters and squeezes the juices of the magical flower on Titania's eyelids, while pronouncing his charm.

Lysander and Hermia enter. They have been wandering in the woods looking for each other and are now tired. Since Lysander is unsure of the way out of the woods in the dark, they decide to sleep here for the night, leaving the next morning. When they fall asleep, Puck enters. He sees Lysander and mistakes him for Demetrius. He carries out Oberon's order by squeezing the juice of the flower on his eyelids and then departs, unaware of his mistake.


Demetrius enters, followed by an exhausted Helena. As she laments her sad plight, she sees Lysander lying on the ground. Feeling concerned, she wakes him. The charm pronounced by Puck takes effect, and Lysander professes his love for Helena, who thinks he is teasing her. She bemoans, "Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born?" Upset that Lysander should so cruelly abuse her, Helena leaves in a mood of disgust and despair. Lysander bids his final farewell to the sleeping Hermia and follows Helena. When Hermia is awakened by a nightmare, she calls for Lysander; when she realizes he is not close by, she leaves the scene to search for him.

Notes

This scene further develops the plot as the fairies begin to work their magic. When Titania falls asleep, Oberon squeezes the juices from the magical flower on her eyelids. The audience is made to wonder who she will first spy upon waking. In a parallel scene, Puck erroneously squeezes the juices from the flower on Lysander's eyelids. When he is awakened by Helena, he immediately falls in love with her, proving that the fairies' magic works. Puck's mistake in confusing Lysander for Demetrius has paved the way for further misunderstanding amongst the characters and involves the audience in the action.

The fairy song, which was probably accompanied by dance, lends a masque-like quality to the play. The masque, originating in Italy and reaching England during the Renaissance, became a popular form of court entertainment during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I. The masque, often based on mythological characters, combined poetry, drama, music, song, dance, and extravagant costumes. The fairy scene, which alludes to the masque, adds to the fantasy feel of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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