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In Act II of A Midsummer Night's Dream we are immersed in the nocturnal realm of Oberon and Titania and we recognize at once that this enchanted forest of magic and mayhem is set apart from the daylight world of "Athens" under its reasonable ruler Theseus. The movement into the play's dream world is both determined and arbitrary. It occurs as a result of discord within the daylight world of Athens when the old man Egeus appears to block the union of Hermia to her beloved Lysander, demanding the execution of the latter for "bewitching" his daughter. There is no real cause to Egeus's opposition, no long-standing family feud. Indeed, when Lysander says of Egeus's choice, Demetrius that "I am, my lord, as well derived as he" (I, i., l.101), not only do first impressions appear to bear him out, subsequent events suggest that the two male youths are interchangeable. The dream occurs because of inevitable, unavoidable tensions in the waking world.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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