Study Questions 1. What is it Puck reports to Oberon?
2. Why is Hermia following Demetrius?
3. What is it Oberon realizes when he sees them together?
4. How is this mistake to be rectified?
5. Why won’t Helena accept Lysander’s advances?
6. Why does she doubt the veracity of Demetrius’ protestations of love?
7. Why do Hermia and Helena argue?
8. Why do each of the young people leave?
9. How does Puck manage to make Lysander and Demetrius sleep?
10. Why do Helena and Hermia also fall asleep?
Answers 1. Puck reports to Oberon that he came upon the craftsmen “met together to rehearse a play” near the sleeping Titania and changed Bottom’s head for that of an ass, then made certain Bottom was near Titania so that he was the first being she saw when she woke up and would she fall in love with him. Puck also mentions how frightened Bottom’s friends were and that the eye of the youth in “Athenian garments” has also been anointed.
2. Hermia is following Demetrius because she is convinced Demetrius, “…hath slain Lysander in his sleep…” Both men want to marry her. Theseus has ordered her to marry Demetrius, as Egeus desires, or face the nunnery or death. She and Lysander have run away to elope. She cannot think of another reason for Lysander to leave her sleeping, alone and unguarded, in the haunted wood other than that Demetrius must have killed Lysander.
3. When Oberon sees Hermia and Demetrius together, he realizes that while Demetrius is the youth he’d wanted Puck to anoint with the love juice, Hermia is not the maid he’d seen pursuing Demetrius; the maid he wanted to help by having the man she was pursuing fall in love with her. In his dismay, he cries to Puck, “What hast thou done?”
4. The mistake is to be rectified by having Puck, “about the wood go swifter than the wind, and Helena of Athens look thou find,” bringing her to Oberon, in the haunted wood. Once Helena is found Oberon and Puck will make Demetrius fall asleep and reanoint his eye so that he would fall in love with Helena, instead of Hermia.
5. Helena will not accept Lysander’s advances because—as she says —“These vows are Hermia’s.” In addition, Lysander and Hermia just told her the previous night that they were eloping. Helena is in love with Demetrius, no one else. Hermia is both her best and childhood friend, and this seems like a case of mocking to her. She is hurt, bewildered, and angry about his advances.
6. Helena doubts the veracity of Demetrius’ love because he had loved her once before and left. He has been in love with Hermia, as far as she knows, since he came to Athens so that Egeus could have Theseus force Hermia to marry him rather than face a nunnery or death. Helena suspects he is part of this cruel joke to mock her love of him. She is baffled at the two men’s behavior and wonders at them “…but you must join in souls to mock me too?”
7. Hermia and Helena argue because Helena is convinced Hermia, her closest and oldest friend, is “…one of this confederacy…” to mock her. They are also arguing because Hermia is convinced Helena is scorning her by refusing Lysander’s love after somehow managing to make him fall in love with her (Helena) and, hence, out of love with herself (Hermia).
8. Each of the young people leaves for a different reason. Helena, physically afraid of the smaller Hermia, comments...
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to Hermia, “My legs are longer though, to run away,” and does so. Hermia, incensed and devastated, pursues Helena. Demetrius and Lysander, losing all hope of convincing Helena which one of them loves her more, go off to find a location for the duel which will supposedly prove to Helena which one loves her more.
9. Puck manages to trick Demetrius and Lysander and make them sleep by tiring them each out. He tricks each of them by pretending to be the other and throwing his voice, as each of them, hither, and yon. They keep running from here to there to find the other and are finally exhausted into sleep as Demetrius explains in saying, “Faintness constraineth me to measure out my length on this cold bed…”
10. Hermia and Helena fall asleep because they, too, are exhausted. Hermia has been trying to catch Helena as Helena runs away from her. This after a night of nightmares for Hermia and running after Demetrius for Helena. Helena concisely states the situation when she murmurs, “Never so weary, never so in woe…,” before falling asleep.