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A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare)


William Shakespeare




Between 1594 and 1598, (exact date not known), in London


One of Shakespeare's best-known plays, particularly popular for school performances

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Roles and characters

Theseus: Duke of Athens, betrothed to Hyppolyta

Hyppolyta: Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus

Oberon: King of the fairies, husband of Titania

Titania: fairy queen, wife of Oberon

Helena: young girl, in love with Demetrius

Hermia: childhood friend of Helena, in love with Lysander

Lysander: lover of Hermia

Demetrius: former lover of Helena, now loves Hermia

Puck: cheeky imp who likes to cause chaos and confusion

Egeus: father of Hermia

Troupe of craftsmen: at the same time a troupe of actors rehearsing a play

Elves/ Fairies?

Structure of the play

Four plots are interwoven in the play, which take place in different locations:

  1. The frame story takes place in the court of Athens, where the ruling couple Theseus and Hippolyta are planning their wedding.

  2. The second and related plot takes place in the forest, where the craftsmen are rehearsing a play (Pyramus and Thysbe) for the prince's celebration.

  3. In parallel, a dispute about the marriage of two aristocratic couples is taking place and the prince should find a solution to this conflict. However, a pair of lovers then flees into the forest, where they encounter both the craftsmen and fairies and elves.

  4. This is where the fourth plot level comes in: The world of fairies and elves, ruled by the equally estranged couple Titania and Oberon.

The play is set on the solstice, the shortest night of the year.

The two main action locations are the court of Athens and the enchanted forest.

Despite the historical setting, the author uses many motifs from the popular beliefs of the time in England, such as Walpurgis Night and elves, which influence the events.


In the forest, the realm of the fairies and elves, there is a great turmoil and strife from which all its inhabitants suffer, as does nature itself. The reason: fairy king Oberon is jealous of a little orphan boy whom his wife Titania has taken in as a pageboy and around whom she is making a huge fuss. To punish her, Oberon sends his cunning imp Puck. Puck is supposed to drip the juice of a magic flower into Titania's eye while she sleeps. She is supposed to fall helplessly in love with the first creature she sees when she wakes up. Now, at the same time, a merry troupe of craftsmen is also in the forest. They are rehearsing the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe, which is to be performed on the occasion of the planned wedding of Theseus, King of Athens, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Puck is amused by the "homely people" and puts a donkey's head on Zettel, the weaver. The awakening Titania falls in love with this monstrosity. Lysander, who is secretly hiding in the forest with Hermia, also receives a dose of magic juice in the eye from Puck, who mistakes him for Demetrius. Thus he suddenly, and thus "overnight", loves Helena. Helena, who just now felt spurned by everyone and especially by Demetrius, with whom she is in love, is now suddenly wooed by both young men. For: Oberon, noticing Puck's confusion, charms Demetrius in order to lead him back to Helena, whom he once loved before Hermia entered his life. After the elves, the craftsmen and the four lovers have been thoroughly confused, Oberon resolves the confusion and also makes peace with his wife. Weddings are celebrated between Theseus and Hippolyta and the young couples Demetrius-Helena and Lysander-Hermia, the craftsmen's play has a remarkable premiere and the elves bless the house. At the end, a trustingly mischievous Puck asks the audience to regard everything only as a "dream play".


A Midsummer Night's Dream (Trailer 1999)

Famous Hollywood adaptation with Michelle Pfeiffer, Kevin Kline, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci and many others - highly recommended.


Shakespeare, William: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Poppe, Reiner: Literaturwissen für Schüler. William Shakespeare

Explanations and documents on William Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Kindermann, Barbara: A Midsummer Night's Dream (after William Shakespeare)

very beautifully illustrated volume for children

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