"Midsummer Nights Dream" :Scene Summaries and Notes.

Essay by geniebeansCollege, Undergraduate October 2006

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The play opens in the court of Theseus, Duke of Athens. He is discussing with Hippolyta their marriage, which is four days away; Theseus longingly hopes that the time will pass swiftly. He instructs Philostrate, the master of ceremonies, to organize the youth of Athens to prepare some merriments for the wedding celebration. As Theseus is planning to banish sorrow from the face of Athens, Egeus enters with Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius.

Egeus is an Athenian who has chosen Demetrius to marry his daughter, Hermia. Since Hermia is in love with Lysander, she has refused to marry Demetrius, who had recently been in love with Helena, Hermia's friend. Hermia's pleas fail to move either her father or the Duke. In fact, Egeus demands that Theseus should enforce the ancient law of Athens which says that a daughter should either marry the man her father chooses for her or face death.

Theseus advises Hermia "to fit her fancies to her father's will" and marry Demetrius or be prepared either to die or to remain single for the rest of her life.

Hermia and Lysander are left alone and bemoan the fact that "the course of true love never did run smooth." However, they decide to run away to Lysander's aunt, who lives about seven leagues away, where the cruel Athenian law cannot be put to force. There they will be free to marry. In order to escape together, they decide to meet the following night in the woods. As they finalize their plans, a distraught Helena enters and speaks about the misfortune of having been deserted by Demetrius. Helena is assured that Demetrius will no longer pursue Hermia since the lovers plan to run away and marry.

Hermia and Lysander leave, and...