In Act 4, Scene 1, how do the characters react to the "dream" in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream ?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Athenian couples awake from their dream half believing that what they had experienced was reality, half believing it was a dream, and half believing they are still asleep and still dreaming.

We first see this state of mind in Lysander's response to Theseus's question of how he came to be in the woods sleeping so near to his enemy Demetrius. Lysander relays his amazed and confused state of mind by saying:

My Lord, I shall reply amazedly,
Half asleep, half waking; but as yet, I swear,
I cannot truly say how I came here. (IV.i.147-148)

This passage shows us that, having just woken up and now reflecting back on the night, Lysander feels that he has been living through all the events of the night while walking in his sleep.

We further see the confused states of mind of the members of both couples when they express in conversation to each other that they still feel like they are dreaming. They ask each other if they are still dreaming after Theseus has decreed that Hermia shall be allowed to marry Lysander and that Demetrius will marry Helena and leaves the forest inviting the couples to return to his home. We first see that the members of the couples are not sure they are awake in Demetrius's lines, "These things seem small and undistinguishable, / Like far-off mountains turned into clouds" (188-189). By "these things" Demetrius is referring to their memories of the past night, showing us that he is seeing the memories as if in a dream. Hermia echoes this sentiment in her response, "Methinks I see these things with parted eye, / When every thing seems double" (190-191). By "parted eye" Hermia means cross-eyed, and she is seeing her memories as if she is seeing a double vision with one image being real and one image being false. We especially see the fact that the members of the couples still feel like they are dreaming when Demetrius asks, "Are you sureĀ  / That we are awake?" (195-196).

Hence, we see that the couples half believe they have been dreaming, half believe they have been awake, and half believe that they are still asleep and still dreaming.

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question