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

A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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Act IV, Scene 1: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What is it Bottom asks Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, and Cobweb to do?

2. What news does Oberon tell Puck?

3. Why is Titania in love with her husband again?

4. Why are Theseus, Hippolyta, and Egeus in the wood?

5. Why does Theseus think the five sleeping people came to the wood?

6. What does Lysander answer when questioned by Theseus?

7. Why is Egeus so angry?

8. Why won’t Demetrius marry Hermia as he had promised?

9. What is Theseus’ decision?

10. Why does Bottom want Quince to write a ballad?

1. Bottom asks Peaseblossom to scratch his head. He asks Cobweb to bring him the unbroken honey-bag of a red-hipped bumble-bee on top of a thistle (a type of flower). He then asks Mustardseed to help Cobweb scratch since Bottom, still unaware he has an ass’ head, ironically mentions, “And I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch,” while thinking it’s time to get to a barber’s for a shave.

2. Oberon tells Puck the news that Titania, Oberon’s wife and queen of the fairies, has given him the changeling once she fell in love with Bottom (due to the love juice). Now that he has the changeling she had previously refused to relinquish, he orders Puck to remove the spell from Titania’s eye and, “…take this transformed scalp from off the head of this Athenian swain…”

3. Titania is in love with her husband, Oberon—king of the fairies —again because the spell was removed from her once she gave Oberon the changeling from India. “O! How my eyes do loathe his visage now!” she says of Bottom and has a difficult time understanding she had been in love with him while under the love-juice spell.

4. Theseus, Hippolyta, and Egeus have come to the wood to hunt as a way of starting the May Day celebration. Theseus also wants Hippolyta to hear “the music of my hounds,” since this was considered a sort of music at the time.

5. Theseus thinks the five sleeping people— Bottom, Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Demetrius—came to the wood to begin the rites to celebrate May Day. He also reminds Egeus that this is the day Hermia is to “…give answer of her choice”: to marry the man her father chose as her husband, be banished to a nunnery, or be put to death.

6. When questioned by Theseus, Lysander answers that he really doesn’t know how he came to be in the wood, but he does remember that he and Hermia’s “intent was to be gone from Athens …without the peril of the Athenian law –.”

7. Egeus is so angry because Lysander has just admitted he and Hermia are defying the Athenian law which demands that a daughter marry the man her father chooses for her. Elopement with another man is not one of the daughter’s options; therefore, Egeus now declares, “…I beg the law, the law, upon his head.”

8. Demetrius will not marry Hermia as he promised because, “the object and the pleasure of mine eye, is only Helena,” due to Oberon and the love juice’s intervention. Oberon told Puck to make certain Helena was the first creature Demetrius saw when he awakened after Puck reanointed his eye with the love juice while Demetrius was sleeping.

9. Theseus’ decision is that the two couples in love—Lysander and Hermia, and Demetrius and Helena—“…shall eternally be knit –,” during his own wedding to Hippolyta. Egeus is not pleased with this decision but, since he came to his duke asking for a judgment, he cannot argue.

10. Bottom wants Quince to write a ballad about his dream, as he clearly states when he simply says, “I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream.” What he now thinks was a dream was really his experience while he had an ass’s head. Bottom would like to hear the ballad of this dream/experience presented at the end of the play the craftsmen are performing the night of the wedding ceremonies.

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Act IV, Scene 2: Questions and Answers