As the play opens, the reader is told the setting and basis of the play and this is that the Duke, Theseus, is going to marry the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, in five days time. Also Shakespeare also tells of most the characters in the play to set up who will be in the play. In the beginning of the play Hermia is brought to the Duke by her father Egeus to be judged, but this brings upon a problem considering that Hermia is already in love with Lysander despite her fathers disapproval. Egeus wants Hermia to marry Demetrius and if she does not she will die unless she wants her whole life to be lived by one of a virgin. From this Hermia decide to run away to the woods outside of Athens where they can be happy.
When Hermia and Lysander run off into the woods, where Helena follows for she hopes that she can change Demetrius’ mind upon choosing Hermia as his wife and Demetrius also follows knowing that Hermia and Lysander have run there. In these woods live a group of fairies and a group of men who are practicing for a play they are to perform. In the group of fairies there includes the fairy king Oberon, his queen Titania, and his servant Puck. Oberon and Titania are not on the best of terms over an Indian prince given to Titania by the prince’s mother. With this Oberon sends Puck to go forth and retrieve a flower that is spread over a sleeping persons eyelids, when the person awakes they will fall in love with the first person that is seen upon awakening. When Puck retrieves the flower Oberon tells him to spread the flower over Titania’s eyes, but also to spread it on Demetrius’ eyes after seeing how he treats Helena. Puck spreads the flower on Titania’s eyes, but accidentally spreads the flower on Lysander’s eyes thinking this is the Athenian man that Oberon was referring to.
When Lysander awakens, the first person he sees in Helena and he falls madly in love with her despite his love for Hermia and Helena believes that Lysander is merely putting on an act to mock her for her undying love for Demetrius. Puck realizes what he has done and tries do undo his mistake that night, but instead makes both Demetrius and Lysander falling madly in love with Helena. At this point in time, Hermia becomes insanely jealous and challenges Helena to a fight and Demetrius and Lysander almost fight, but Puck leads them apart by faking each other’s voices.
When Titania awakens the first person she sees is Bottom, one of the craftsmen performing in the play who’s head has been made into a donkey to make fun of his ass like arrogant personality. Upon seeing Bottom, Titania instantly falls in love with him and asks him to stay. To make the deal sweeter she makes Bottom the head of a group of fairies that are to grant his every wish. Puck goes to inform Oberon of the event that has occurred with Titania and he is delighted to see that his plan has worked successfully. As Oberon watches Demetrius and Hermia talk, he is surprised to see that Demetrius is in love with Hermia and not Helena, the girl he saw Demetrius with earlier. Realizing that Puck has made a mistake, Oberon knows that he must go out of his way to fix this tangled mess of love. Demetrius and Hermia continue to talk and Demetrius grows angry that Hermia is concerned about Lysander’s whereabouts. Demetrius soon realizes that getting Hermia to love him is an endless battle for she is truly in love with Lysander, so he decides to lie down and sleep. Oberon knows this is his time to fix Puck’s mistake, so he orders Puck to go find Helena while he spreads the flower on Demetrius’ eyes. Puck returns with Helena and Lysander close behind, Lysander keeps confessing his love for Helena while Helena still think he is just mocking her. As the two argue and enter, Demetrius is immediately woken by the nose and upon seeing Helena falls madly in love with her. Demetrius joins in proclaiming his love for Helena and says that Lysander truly loves Hermia, but Helena believes that they are both now just mocking her not believing any of their words. Hermia enters having heard Lysander’s voice from a distance and hears his word of love for Helena. Hermia thinks that Helena lured Lysander away from her by using her height as an advantage and Helena thinks that Hermia is involved in this evil prank. Hermia threatens to scratch Helena’s eyes out and Demetrius and Lysander vow to protect her, but they to soon run off into the woods to duel. Oberon sends Puck to stop the two from dueling and tells Puck that he has until morning to fix the mess he has caused, so he follows the two and again separates them until they both are lost in the woods.
Eventually all four wander around until they reach the glade to fall asleep and with this Puck spreads the flower over Lysander’s eyes again so that in morning all will be well. Oberon and Puck now enter the glade to see Titania and Bottom deeply in love with one another. Once the two of them fall asleep, Oberon speaks the words to undo the spell in to Titania’s ear and upon awakening is horrified that she was asleep with such a hideous creature and so Oberon takes his queen and dances away. Puck then gives Bottom his normal head back.
As morning comes Theseus and his search party find the group of lovers asleep in the glade and demand to hear their story of what has happened, but no one seems to recall exactly what has happened the previous night almost as though it has been a bad dream. The only this they are sure of is that Demetrius loves Helena and Lysander loves Hermia, so Theseus orders the lovers to join his wedding to be wed. Bottom awakens and remembers the “dream” he had the previous night and orders a ballad to be written about it to be performed at the end of his play. After all are wedded and the festivities are complete, Bottom and his craftsmen perform their play as all watch. When the play is done the couples depart for sleep and Puck enters to bless the newly weds with a charm, and as the play closes Puck asks the audience for forgiveness and to remember all of this as a dream only.
Love is an emotion that many will never understand, but William Shakespeare seems to be one of the few that understands and harnesses the understanding of love. Shakespeare shows his understanding through his timeless plays that people will read in many years to come. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Shakespeare reveals the many aspects of love through the humorous character of Puck who has many mischievous characteristics.
In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Shakespeare demonstrates three different types of love and they are lust, true love, and unrequited love. True love can come in an instant and make you feel as though you are possessed by some magic spell, much as the flower does to the characters in the play. It can make you act in ways you never thought were possible and make you do things you never thought you would ever do. Love mostly hits you without knowing or expecting love to come, and there is nothing you can do to stop it or prepare for it.
Lust is a type of love that many mistaken as true love, but it is in fact not true love and will not be as fulfilling as true love. With lust, usually the two are not in love but in fact one person likes certain qualities of the other person and enjoys a chase and not the whole person. This is the love that Demetrius and Hermia have, Demetrius enjoys the chase of Hermia because she loves Lysander and Demetrius wants what he cannot have. Another type of love similar to lust is unrequited love and this love is a one-way kind of love. This type of love can be seen between Helena and Demetrius. Helena love Demetrius with all her heart, but Demetrius wants nothing to do with Helena because there is no chase between the two.
The last and most important love shown in the play is in fact true love because true love is the strongest emotion known to man. The best example of this love is the love between Lysander and Hermia because the both love each other with every ounce of their body and no one will stop them from being together. This is why true love is the most powerful thing in the world, because true love will never fade and make someone do anything for true love. This can be show in what Lysander says in Act. 1 sc. 1 161-164 ” There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee, And to that place the sharp Athenian law Can not pursue us. If thou lovest me, then, Steal forth thy father’s house tomorrow night.” In order for the two of them to be together, they must run away from all that they know and the two are willing to do so because they are truly in love.
In Shakespeare’s play, Hermia seems to have the most knowledge out of everyone on love and what it means to truly love another. “Now much beshrew my manners and my pride If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied. But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy, Lie further off, in humane modesty. Such separation as may well be said Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid, So far be distant; and good night, sweet friend. Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end.” Hermia demonstrates her love for Lysander here as she tells Lysander of love in Act 2 sc. 2 54-61. Throughout the play everyone changes whom they love and chases after new loves that arise, all except for Hermia. She remains consistent in her love for Lysander and is even willing to fight her friend Helena to win Lysander’s love back. This is the best demonstration of how true love will drive someone crazy to make them do actions never thought possible before. “Why are you grown rude! What changed is this, sweet love?” Hermia says this to Lysander in Act 3 sc. 2 262-264 because she has grown confused on why Lysander’s love has changed so quickly.
In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, if you take away all the fairies and magical spells, this play could be a real life situation. This is what Shakespeare tries to demonstrate because he takes a real life situation that people can relate to, but he mixes comedy with love to give the play a more light hearted feeling. Shakespeare shows that humans can be reliable in a relationship up until a certain point and that love has no boundaries. “Love hath no law but his own” is Shakespeare’s viewpoint on love and basically means that love will follow its own path even if laws are to be broken.
Overall love has no limits in society and will prevail over all no matter what the circumstances are. Social class and other’s approval are not needed for love to conquer, all that is needed is two people who are truly in love with one another and who are ready to withstand the duration of a relationship for love to be successful. Shakespeare shows this through his many works and allows for people to view his take on love so that they to can find true love.