In Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, what do the lovers think they have experienced when all is resolved?
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In the beginning of Act IV of Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, the lovers wake up in the forest to see the Duke's hunting party which includes Egeus and Hippolyta. They are confused as to the previous night's occurrences and find it difficult to retell. Demetrius says, "These things seem small and undistinguishable,/ Like far-off mountains turned into clouds (IV.i.187-188). Hermia thinks she is seeing double and Helena wonders if Demetrius still loves her as he had the night before. Demetrius wonders if they are even awake when he realizes that he does still love Helena. After Lysander explains that he and Hermia did try to elope the night before, but he too can't explain how they ended up in the situation that they currently find themselves. With curiosity, the lovers seem to wonder that they may have dreamt up the night's events, but the realistic results of the matter seem to prove that it all did happen. Without being able to clearly explain their current situation, the lovers follow Theseus's command to marry at the temple that day with him and Hippolyta.
At the beginning of Act five, Theseus says that he doesn't believe in fairies as the lovers described having seen. He does however compare loves and poets to lunatics whose imaginations can run wild (V.i.7-8). Basically, Theseus claims that the lovers were in the forest at night; they were scared; and, they let their imaginations run away from them. Hippolyta argues that it's strange that four different people could retell the exact same experience. Interestingly, that is all that is discussed about the lovers' experience. The confusion of the situation in the characters' minds allowed Shakespeare's audience to end with a laugh knowing full well in their own minds what really happened to the four in the forest of their mid-summer night.
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