A Midsummer Night's Dream Character and Theme Quotes

William Shakespeare

Essential Passage by Character: Nick Bottom

[Wakes] When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer.
My next is ‘Most fair Pyramus.’ Heigh-ho! Peter
Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout, the tinker!
Starveling! God's my life, stolen hence, and left me
asleep! I have had a most rare vision. I have had a
dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.
Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream.
Methought I was—there is no man can tell what dream.
Methought I was, and methought I had, but man is but
a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had.
The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath
not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to
conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I
will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It
shall be call'd ‘Bottom's Dream,’ because it hath no bottom;
and I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the Duke.
Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I
shall sing it at her death.
Act 4, Scene 1, Lines 204-221


Nick Bottom is part of a group of (very) amateur players who have decided to perform for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. They are rehearsing a play based on the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, two thwarted lovers. They have come to the forest to practice without interruption, but have...

(The entire section is 1179 words.)

Essential Passage by Character: Helena

How happy some o'er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know.
And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath Love's mind of any judgment taste;
Wings and no eyes, figure unheedy haste;
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere;
For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia's eyne,
He hail'd down oaths that he was only mine;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolv'd, and showers of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight;
Then to the wood will he tomorrow night
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense.
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.
Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 232-257

(The entire section is 1067 words.)

Essential Passage by Theme: Love

How now, my love! Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?
Belike for want of rain, which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But, either it was different in blood—
O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to low.
Or else misgraffed in respect of years—
O spite! too old to be engag'd to young.
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends—
O hell! to choose love by another's eyes.
Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness, did lay siege to it,
Making it momentany as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’
The jaws of darkness do devour it up;
So quick bright things come to confusion.

(The entire section is 1279 words.)

Essential Passage by Theme: Reality

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
Act 5, Scene 1, Lines 418-433


The culmination of the play has come, with all being restored to what it was meant to be. Theseus and Hippolyta are married, along with Lysander and Hermia, and Demetrius and Helena. Egeus, who has accompanied Theseus and his bride to the woods, is not too happy at finding his daughter with Lysander. Theseus makes excuses for the couples, stating that they must simply be celebrating May Day early and came to pay honor to the Athenian leader. Awakening the sleeping pairs, Theseus asks why Demetrius and Lysander seem to have put aside their differences long enough to be in each other’s company. Lysander states that he cannot quite remember; all things seem to be hazy. Egeus is still ready to carry out his threats against Hermia, but Theseus intervenes. He commands that the two couples shall be free to make their own...

(The entire section is 1039 words.)