Illustration of a donkey-headed musician in between two white trees

A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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Act II, Scene 2: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What is it Oberon hopes Titania sees immediately upon

2. Why does Lysander want to rest?

3. Why does Hermia ask him to move further away to sleep?

4. Why does Robin Goodfellow (Puck) anoint Lysander’s eye?

5. What does Robin Goodfellow think Hermia’s reason is for sleeping so far removed from Lysander?

6. Why does Helena stop chasing Demetrius?

7. Why does Demetrius leave Helena alone in the wood?

8. Why does Lysander profess his love for Helena?

9. What is Helena’s reaction to Lysander’s protestations of love?

10. Why does Hermia awake?

1. Now that Oberon has anointed Titania’s eye with the love juice, she will fall in love with the first creature she sees upon waking from the sleep she had instructed the fairies to sing her into. The still angry Oberon hopes Titania will see some “vile thing” the moment she opens her eyes.

2. Lysander wants to rest because Hermia is already “faint with wand’ring in the wood” in the attempt to reach his aunt’s house and he, frankly, has forgotten the way and needs to rest himself to remember the way.

3. Hermia, who is running away to avoid her father’s choice of husband in order to marry her own—a crime punishable by death or banishment to a nunnery—asks Lysander, “For my sake, my dear, lie further off yet. Do not lie so near,” because it is unseemly for an unmarried couple to sleep together.

4. Puck anoints Lysander’s eye because Oberon, being invisible at will, overheard Helena beseech Demetrius to love her and took pity on her. He sent Puck to anoint Demetrius’ eye so that he would love Helena since it is obvious she would be the first one he would see upon awakening because she keeps following him. Oberon, however, described Demetrius as the youth in “Athenian garments,” which is also what Lysander is wearing. Not knowing this is the wrong person, Puck carries out Oberon’s order.

5. Puck thinks Hermia is Helena and that she’s sleeping so far from Lysander, who he thinks is Demetrius, because she cannot bring herself to sleep any nearer to “this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.”

6. Helena stops chasing Demetrius because he has actually been running away from her and she is “…out of breath in this fond race,” and needs to catch her breath.

7. Demetrius leaves Helena alone in the wood “on thy peril,” as he thinks, because she will not agree to stop following him and he simply wants to get away from her.

8. Lysander professes his love for Helena because, after Puck anointed his eye with the love juice thinking he was Demetrius, Helena spies him in the wood and wakes him to ascertain if he is “dead or asleep” since she knew he and Hermia had planned to run away the night before. This makes Helena the first creature he saw when he awoke under the spell of the love juice.

9. Helena’s reaction to Lysander’s pledge of love for her is to demand in anger, “When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?” She thinks he is mocking her since, as far as she knows, he and Hermia are presently in the act of eloping. She feels even worse because it is so obvious that Demetrius loves Hermia, too, even though he had once loved Helena.

10. Hermia awakes because she has a nightmare about a serpent upon her breast. She calls for Lysander to help her, then realizes she is alone, with Lysander being, “Gone? No sound, no word?”

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Act II, Scene 1: Questions and Answers


Act III, Scene 1: Questions and Answers