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

A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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Act V, Scene 1: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Why does Theseus doubt the reality of the story the lovers tell him?

2. What are the choices for the revel?

3. Why does Theseus choose the craftsmen’s play?

4. What is the consensus of opinion about the Prologue?

5. Why does Theseus command Demetrius to be silent?

6. What is Hippolyta’s astute comment about the play?

7. How does Robin Starveling defend the use of the lanthorn (lantern) in representing the moon?

8. How does Pyramus die in the play-within-the-play?

9. What does Oberon tell the fairies to do before they sing and dance all night?

10. What two things does Puck ask from the audience before Shakespeare’s play ends?

1. Theseus calls the story the lovers tell him, “More strange than true,” because he thinks, “the lunatic, the lover, and the poet,” are alike in their overblown imaginations. Hippolyta wonders if this is true since all of the four lovers tell the same story.

2. The choices for the revel are a battle song sung by, “an Athenian eunuch [a castrated male] to the harp,” an old play Theseus has already seen, another play he deems too serious for a wedding feast, and the craftsmen’s play.

3. Theseus chooses the craftsmen’s play for several reasons. The first is he doesn’t care for the other choices for various reasons. The second is he is intrigued by the contradictory wording of the title: “A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus and his love Thisbe, very tragical mirth.” He is also delighted that his craftsmen would honor him by attempting to push their brains to write a play and then their acting skills by presenting it.

4. The consensus of opinion about the Prologue is that it was roughly and poorly delivered, but Lysander takes this as a morality lesson that, “it is not enough to speak, but to speak true,” if one is to bother speaking at all.

5. Theseus commands Demetrius to be silent because. “Pyramus draws near the wall,” and he, Theseus, wants to hear if he and Thisbe do speak through the Wall (portrayed by Snout).

6. Hippolyta’s astute comment about the play is, “This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.”

7. Starveling defends the use of the lanthorn in representing the moon by saying, “The lanthorn doth the horned moon present,” three times and offering no other explanation.

8. Pyramus dies in the play-within-the-play when he kills himself, proclaiming, “Out, sword, and wound the pap of Pyramus.…” He had found Thisbe’s bloodied mantle (cloak) and concluded the Lion killed her, which is not the case at all. Since, according to Pyramus’ thinking, she is dead and he is her love, he sees no reason to continue living.

9. Oberon tells the fairies that before they sing and dance all night, they are to bless the newly married couples and whatever children these couples may have in the future so that they, the humans, “…ever shall be fortunate.”

10. The two things Puck asks of the audience before Shakespeare’s play ends are that they forgive the characters for any offense given and that they applaud or, “Give me your hands.…”

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Act IV, Scene 2: Questions and Answers