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A Midsummer Night's Dream

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story
The main plot of Midsummer is a complex farce that involves two sets of couples (Hermia & Lysander and Helena & Demetrius) whose romantic intrigues are confused and complicated still further by entering the forest where Oberon, the King of the Fairies and his Queen, Titania, preside.

Puck (or Robin Goodfellow) is a major character who is full of mischief and tricks. Other visitors to the enchanted forest include Bottom the weaver and his friends Snug, Snout, Quince and Flute who want to rehearse their dire but hilarious rendering of the play Pyramus and Thisbe. Themes illustrated in the play are that Love triumphs in the end and the pleasure of Dreaming the Impossible Dream.

Information provided about the A Midsummer Nights Dream play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 ( a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
It is believed that A Midsummer Night's was first performed between 1595 and 1596. In the Elizabethan era there was a huge demand for new entertainment and A Midsummer Night's Dream would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first printed
It is believed that the script was first printed in 1600. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The setting for A Midsummer Night's Dream
The setting for the drama is Athens in Greece

Theme of A Midsummer Night's Dream
The play is categorised as a Comedy

Number of words in A Midsummer Night's Dream
The number of spoken words in the script, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 17,200.

Most important characters
The most important characters are:
Hermia, Lysander, Bottom, Puck, Oberon (King of the Fairies) and Titania (Queen of the Fairies)

Famous Quotes / Quotations from A Midsummer Night's Dream
The quotes from the play are amongst Shakespeare's most famous including 'The course of true love never did run smooth'. Details of this famous quote follow, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that these quotations can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"The course of true love never did run smooth". (Act I, Scene I).

"The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact." (Act V, Scene I).

History of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Unlike many of his other plays it does not include any historical figures. The feast of John the Baptist was celebrated as an English festival on June 24 (Midsummer Day) It was believed that on Midsummer Night that the fairies and witches held their festival. To dream about Midsummer Night was to conjure up images of fairies and witches and other similar creatures and supernatural events.

William Shakespeare's Main Source for A Midsummer Night's Dream
All characters and plot are purely fictitious but Shakespeare may have based parts of the play on The Knight's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer (1340 - 1400)

Inspiration from A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream has inspired other works such as films starring Ian Holm, Judi Dench and Diana Rigg. Probably the most famous version of this film starred the legendary James Cagney as Bottom.

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access a list of all the cast and characters.

Dream Interpretation
Interested in the meaning of Dreams? Click the following link about interpreting dreams:

Dream Interpretation
Text - script of A Midsummer Night's Dream play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Index of plays by William Shakespeare
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