In Act 4 of  A Midsummer Night's Dream, who are the characters that wake up and what are their reactions?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The five characters who wake up in this Act are the four Athenian lovers and Bottom, who are all quite amazed at how they find themselves in the forest and have immense difficulty to explain the "dreams" that they have had whilst they were asleep. Note what Lysander says, speaking for the group of Athenian lovers, when he tries to explain himself before Theseus:

My lord, I shall reply amazedly,
Half sleep, half waking: but as yet, I swear,
I cannot truly say how I came here;
But, as I think,--for truly would I speak,
And now do I bethink me, so it is,--
I came with Hermia hither: our intent
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might,
Without the peril of the Athenian law.

This sense of waking up from a dream is matched by the other characters who wake up as well. Demetrius for example doubts whether they are still dreaming, and all have problems distinguishing reality from dreams as they come to. Note what Demetrius says in the following speech that casts doubt on their ability to distinguish dreams from reality:

Are you sure
That we are awake? It seems to me
That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think
The duke was here, and bid us follow him?

Bottom has a typically more hilarious and at the same time thoughtful response to his dream, as he plans to have it written as a ballad that can be performed. All of the characters seem to find it difficult therefore to re-enter the world of reality after their dreams, and especially it is hard for them to think about what has happened and its significance, as they appear to be baffled by what has occurred in the woods and how they have come to be where they are and loving who they love.


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