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Hermia is in love with Lysander and they want to be married. Hermia's father wants her to marry Demetrius, who has fallen in love with her and been given her father's consent to marry her. The law in Athens stated that a father had the right of life or death over his daughter and could have her killed if she disobeyed him. As she refuses to marry her father's choice of husband for her, her father brings her before the Duke of Athens and asks that she be put to death. The Duke offers another option for her besides death and that is to enter a nunnery forever. Hermia must choose between three hateful options.
This is the conflict that sets the events of the play in motion.
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