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A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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What are the main conflicts of each act in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

In act one, the main conflict is that Hermia wants to marry Lysander and not Demetrius. Act two's conflict revolves around King Oberon and Queen Titania's spat over possession of a young Indian prince. In act three, Lysander and Demetrius fight over Helena. Acts four and five are largely conflict-free.

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In act 1, the central conflict involves Hermia, who is expected by her father, Egeus, to marry Demetrius. The problem is Hermia is in love with Lysander. Because of their love, she vows that she would rather accept the punishment of becoming a nun than marry Demetrius. She and Lysander then run away together.

The conflict in act 2 is between King Oberon and Queen Titania. They are fighting over possession of a young Indian prince. Oberon tries to solve the problem by putting a love potion in his wife's eyes. Plans go awry, and the potion winds up making Lysander fall in love with Helena; Helena had instead been pursuing Demetrius.

The ferocity of the conflict gets taken up a notch in the third act. Lysander and Demetrius fight over Helena, while Hermia threatens violence against Helena for stealing Lysander from her. Lysander and Demetrius add to the conflict by arguing over which of them loves Helena more than the other.

Act four brings calm back to the characters's lives. Puck has taken the love potion out of Lysander's eyes, causing him to immediately remember his love for Hermia. Demetrius, who is now in love with Helena, no longer wants to marry Hermia. She escapes the fate of having to choose between a loveless marriage and becoming a nun.

The main action of act five is conflict-free, and the craftsmen get to put on their play. Puck concludes the play with a monologue suggesting that if anyone in the audience was offended by the play or its conflicts, they should treat the whole experience as nothing more than a dream.

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Act one: The central conflict is Hermia and Lysander versus the state. The Duke of Athens and Hermia's father oppose her intentions to wed Lysander, so the two run away to the woods, hoping to elope.

Act two: The central conflict is Oberon versus Titania. Oberon is angry that Titania will not give him the changeling boy she has acquired from India. He plans on humiliating her with the use of a love potion. This causes problems when the love potion ends up with of Lysander, who falls for Helena.

Act three: The central conflict is the four lovers versus one another. After Bottom is enchanted, Demetrius is influenced by the potion also. Both he and Lysander pursue Helena, which enrages Hermia.

Act four: The conflicts de-escalate. The potion's effects are reversed. Titania is at peace with Oberon. Hermia is paired with Lysander; Helena is paired with Demetrius. The Duke of Athens allows the couples to marry as they please, since Demetrius no longer even wants Hermia.

Act five: There is no major conflict in act five. At this point, all the lovers are married and the Mechanicals get to put on their show. The faeries bless the beds of the wedded couples before going to bed.

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In act 1, Duke Theseus directs Hermia to marry Demetrius. He has her father Egeus’s permission, but Hermia and Lysander are in love. The...

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duke says she must marry the man of her father’s choosing, die, or “live a barren sister all [her] life.” Adding further conflict to this lovers’ conundrum is Helena, who adores Demetrius. Meanwhile, Peter Quince casts his playPyramus and Thisby. There are a few small conflicts about who will play whom, but the main tension in this act is between the lovers and the law.

Act 2 introduces the fairies and the clash between Queen Titania and her husband Oberon, who quarrel over the possession of “a little changeling boy.” Titania says that their argument is disrupting nature’s cycles: “this same progeny of evils comes / From our debate, from our dissension.” Oberon puts a love potion in his wife’s eyes as she sleeps, and, mistaking him for Demetrius, Puck enchants Lysander. Helena pursues Demetrius, to his chagrin, before stumbling across Lysander. When he wakes up, he falls in love with Helena and abandons Hermia.

In the third act, the rude mechanicals struggle over their lines until Puck creates supernatural conflict by transforming Bottom’s head into an ass’s. Titania wakes to fall for him, creating great amusement for Puck and Oberon. Puck attempts to right his mistakes by giving Demetrius the love potion. Unfortunately, this leads to one of the play’s biggest conflicts. Demetrius and Lysander fight over Helena, Helena believes they are mocking her, and Hermia attacks Helena for stealing her lover. Puck eventually causes them to sleep and removes the love potion from Lysander’s eyes.

Act 4 offers resolutions to the conflicts. Titania fawns over Bottom before falling asleep. Oberon then returns her to her normal self and plans to reconcile with her, having taken the changeling during her enchantment. Theseus and Hippolyta find the lovers while hunting in the woods, and the duke overrules Egeus’s arrangement with Demetrius, who is now in love with Helena. The players mourn Bottom’s disappearance and their ruined play, but a restored Bottom returns and brings them cheer.

Act 5 concludes the play with a performance of the ridiculous Pyramus and Thisby before the nobles. The conflicts here are mostly subtle and internal. Theseus and Hippolyta disagree about whether the lovers’ fantastical tale is true, and Philostrate discourages Theseus from choosing the rude mechanicals’ play as entertainment. The viewers then comment on the terrible production, to which Bottom feels the need to respond, while on stage. The lovers go to bed, the players are “made men,” and the fairies bless the couples.

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What are two conflicts in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and how are they solved?

The two major conflicts in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream revolve around the young lovers (Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena) and between Oberon and Titania, the fairies. First, the young lovers are caught between love and tradition because Hermia's father, Egeus, wants her to marry Demetrius, but she wants to marry Lysander. Demetrius had been courting Helena, but then dropped her to seek marriage to Hermia through Egeus. According to Athenian law, the father had the right to marry his daughter to anyone he chose. If the the daughter refused, the father could have her executed. Lysander begs Duke Theseus to consider him instead of Demetrius, but Egeus claims his right by saying the following:

"Scornful Lysander, true, he hath my love,

And what is mine my love shall render him.

And she is mine, and all my right of her

I do estate unto Demetrius" (I.i.97-100).

Meanwhile, the king and queen of the fairies are fighting over a young boy and how he should be raised. The boy is from one of Titania's servants who died at childbirth. Titania promised to bring up the boy like her own; but, Oberon wants the boy to become a henchman for him. Oberon vows to win this fight by saying the following:

"Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this grove

Till I torment thee for this injury" (II.i.148-149).

Thus, the duration of the play circles around how the young lovers will resolve who will marry whom and whether or not Oberon will successfully obtain Titania's boy. 

The young lovers' problems are resolved by Oberon who orders Puck to put love potion on Demetrius' eyes so he will completely love Helena and forget Hermia. Of course the plot is complicated when Puck accidentally mistakes Lysander for Demetrius first, but eventually Puck fixes his mistakes and the couples are paired off correctly. Demetrius therefore drops his claim for Hermia because he now completely loves Helena. As a result, Theseus allows Lysander to marry Hermia.

As far as Oberon, Titania and the boy are concerned, Oberon orders Puck to place love potion on his wife's eyes and make it so she will fall in love with something disgusting. Puck applies the juice to Titania's eyes while she sleeps; and then he decides to change a human's head (Nick Bottom's) into that of a donkey's. When Titania wakes up to see Bottom, she falls in love with Puck's odd creation. This gives Oberon the distraction he needs to carry away the boy! Once Oberon has the boy, and he and Puck have laughed at Titania for a while, Puck is ordered to remove the effects of the potion and make everything right again. Once awake and not under the influence again, Titania seems to have forgotten about the fight over the boy. She says the following to Oberon:

"Come, my lord, and in our flight

Tell me how it came this night

That I sleeping here was found

With these mortals on the ground" (IV.i.98-101).

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What are the major conflicts in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

The play is essentially about love.  The conflict arises out of this.  

First there is the impending marriage of Theseus to Hippolyta.  Theseus tells her in I.1 that he conquered her into marriage.  When he leaves the scene, he say, "Come, my Hippolyta."  The use of the word my indicts possession.  

Hermia's father demands the ancient privilege.  Egeus is another man who looks at females as possessions.  He wants to force his daughter to marry the man he has chosen, Demetrius instead of the man she loves, Lysander.

It is also revealed that Demetrius "made love to Nedar's daughter" who happens to be Helena.  Made love is not what we think today but we could say that he was dating her.

So in I.1 we learn that Thesus won Hypolita, the Queen of the Amazons, in battle  and despite his telling her he loves her, he also considers her a possession, the spoils of war.  We also learn that Hermia loves Lysander and that until Egeus decided he wanted his daughter to marry Demetrius, he was in love with Helena.

When Lysander reveals his plan to Helena, she tells Demetrius the plan and follows him.  As a result, the four young lovers end up in the forest that is ruled by night by Oberon, Titiana and the fairies, a magical place where anything can happen.....and does.

In I.3 we meet Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the faries and the rest of fairyland.  We discover that the powerful king and queen are having a domestic quarrel that affects not only fairyland but the "real" world.  Their argument concerns a young boy.  Oberon feels it is time for this page to become a squire.  In other words it is time for the boy to go from the world of women (as a page) into the world of men.  The references of page, squire and knight are all used in connection to this young boy.  In order to get the boy away from Titania, he uses Puck and magic.  He also decides to help out Helena and sends Puck.  As a result both men end of "in love" with Helena.  Also, Titania falls "in love" with Bottom whose head has been replaced by magic with the head of an ass.  (This was an in-joke for the Elizabethan audiences since Bottom was played by Will Kemp who would always manage to work in the fact that his character was an ass.  See Dogberry in Much Ado.)

The application of the love juice and the release of this juice provide the comedy.....both men pursuing Helena and Titania ennamered by an ass.  Once Oberon has the boy, he releases the spell on Titania and commands Puck to make things right with Bottom and the four young lovers.  

In the end, true love prevails and the not only do Oberon and Titania reunite in concord bringing the same to the rest of the world but the lovers are paired correctly and when Thesus has learned that Hypolita in not his possession but his equal when he says, "Come, Hypolita" in V.

The play put on by Bottom and company is a parody of love.

So, the conflict in the play is romantic love in its various forms. 

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What’s the conflict of the fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

The conflict between the Fairies falls between Titania and Oberon, the King and Queen of Fairy, who are quarreling over the fate of a newly acquired changeling. Oberon wants to use the boy as a servant, but Titania resists his desires. For the memory of his recently deceased mother (who had herself been a close follower and friend to Titania), she has taken the child and refuses to hand him over to Oberon. This dispute has created tension between the King and Queen of the Fairies, and Oberon enlists the assistance of Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck) to be-spell Titania, after which he could then acquire the boy. This results in the subplot by which Titania falls besotted for Bottom, who Puck has also enchanted, so that his head is turned into a donkey's.

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What’s the conflict of the fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

The queen of the fairies, Titania, and the king of the fairies, Oberon, are quarreling over an Indian boy. A close friend of Titania's died recently and left Titania as the guardian of her young Indian son. Titania takes seriously her promise to care for the boy. However, Oberon wants Titania to give him the boy for his own retinue. Titania refuses. This makes Oberon very unhappy, as he is used to having his way.

This fight causes trouble among the fairies but also means that humans are subjected to bad weather because of the upset in the fairy kingdom.

Oberon believes that if he makes Titania love-besotted, she will lose interest in the Indian boy and let him have the lad. Therefore, Oberon has Puck use a love potion on Titania that causes her to fall in love with Bottom—a man who Puck has transformed to have an ass's head. Part of the play's comedy arises from the beautiful and noble Titiania falling head over heels in love with a ridiculous creature like Bottom, which shows that love is a crazy business.

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What seems to be the main conflict in the A Midsummer Night's Dream?

The main conflict in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is that people want to make decisions for others.

A conflict is a struggle between two characters, or between a character and an outside force.  In this case, most of the character vs. character conflicts are caused by interference.

If I were to generalize all of the conflict in the play, it seems to sum up this way: people are making decisions for other people, and those people resent it.  In some cases there is a cultural justification for the decision, such as Egeus’s desire to choose his daughter’s husband or Oberon’s desire to keep the changeling out.  However, in some cases stubbornness is as much to blame.

Theseus is asked to intervene when Egeus realizes that his daughter Hermia is in love with Lysander instead of Demetrius, the man he wants her to marry.  Theseus reminds Hermia that she has no will of her own in the matter, and instead should be following her father’s.

Be advis'd, fair maid.

To you your father should be as a god;

One that composed your beauties; yea, and one

To whom you are but as a form in wax,(50)

By him imprinted (Act 1, Scene 1)

Hermia completely disagrees.  We see the same problem in that Helena wants to marry Demetrius, but he wants to marry Hermia since her father has requested him.  Demetrius did love Helena until Egeus interfered.  It is downhill from there.  Although in the end everyone ends up happy, they could have avoided pain by letting others make choices instead of forcing them on them.

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