A Midsummer Night's Dream
by William Shakespeare
is one of my favorite plays written by him. It was likely written in the mid 1590s.
It begins with the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and his fiance Hippolyta making plans for their upcoming marriage when Egeus, a citizen comes to them with a complaint. His daughter Hermia, won't marry Demetrius, the man he's picked for her, and he's upset! Lysander, the man Hermia does love is there too, but nothing Lysander or Hermia say will change Egeus' mind.
Theseus tells Hermia she has four days to choose one of three things: either take the man her dad has chosen, go to a convent, or even possibly face execution! Neither of those things are what she wants, and so Hermia and Lysander plan to run away. But they make a slight mistake in telling Hermia's friend Helena what their plans are. Helena is in love with Demetrius, and he was in love with her too before he decided to change his mind and ask Egeus for Hermia. So Helena, hoping to get on his good side, tells Demetrius what Hermia's plans are. Angry that Hermia has run off, Demetrius goes after Hermia and Lysander, and Helena goes after Demetrius!
Meanwhile in the forest, the king and queen of the fairies are at odds with one another over the fostering of a little boy who was the son of the queen's mortal friend who died in childbirth. Oberon the king, wants custody of the little boy, and the queen, Titania, wants to keep the child. So the king is mad.
Meanwhile, a group of actors including a rather silly fellow named Nick Bottom want to perform for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, and so they are on their way to Athens in the hopes of performing it.
Oberon, wanting to play a trick on his wife, gets his servant Puck to go look for a plant that has magical properties; when you place the juice on the eyelids of a sleeping person, they will fall in love with the first individual (human or animal) they see upon waking up! Oberon sees Demetrius, followed by Helena, stalking through the forest and berating her for following him. He wants to find Hermia and Lysander, and is mad! Taking pity on Helena, Oberon tells Puck to put the juice on Demetrius' eyes when he is asleep, so that he will fall in love with Helena when he wakes.
But poor Puck, not knowing what they look like, comes upon Lysander and Hermia sleeping (the two are a fair distance apart) and he puts the juice on Lysander's eyes. Unfortunately, Helena finds Lysander and wakes him, and when he looks at her, Lysander thinks he's in love with her!
Puck also finds Nick Bottom, and as a joke, turns his head into a donkey's head.
Realizing his mistake, he also puts the juice on Demetrius' eyes so that Demetrius will fall in love with Helena, which he does, but now both Lysander and Demetrius are in love with Helena, and Hermia is completely left out. But Helena thinks the three of them are playing a joke on her, and is mad at all of them.
Puck puts the juice on Titania's eyes, and when Nick Bottom accidentally wakes her, she thinks she's in love with a man who has a donkey head!
What happens next in this twisty turny romantic comedy? Read or watch the play to find out!
I recommend it to adults as well as children who enjoy Shakespearean comedy.