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A Midsummer Night's Dream Study Questions

Act I, Scene 1

1. How is Hippolytas reasoning concerning how quickly the next four days will pass different
from that of Theseus?

Theseus thinks that the four days means a long period, maybe too long to wait for a marriage
because he is in love with Hippolyta and he is very excited to marry her. Instead, Hippolyta
believes that this period is short because she is not so eager for the wedding so that is why the
opinion of the two characters about the four days is opposite.

2. Why has Egeus brought his daughter and her two suitors to Theseus? What does Egeus expect
him to do?

Egeus brought his daughter, Hermia, and her two suitors to Theseus because Hermia refused to
marry Demetrius, the suitor of his choice. She wished to marry Lysander, her lover, which her
father was completely against. Egeus wanted Theseus to give him consent to "dispose of" his
daughter either by marrying her off to Demetrius, or by killing her. He expected Theseus to give
consent as this right was part of the Athenian law. I believe that Theseus giving Hermia a third
option outside of marrying Demetrius or death was something that Egeus did not expect.

3. What was the proper role for women/daughters in Athenian society according to Egeus and
Theseus? What is Theseuss ruling concerning Hermia?

The proper role for women/daughters in Athenian society, according to Egeus and Theseus, is
that daughters are obligated to be completely obedient to their fathers and women must be
subservient and obedient to their husbands. Theseus's ruling concerning Hermia is that she must
marry Demetrius, die or become a nun.

4. How does Lysanders comment about Demetriuss previous love affair with Helena
complicate things?

Lysander's comment about Demetrius's previous love affair with Helena complicates things
because it portrays Demetrius as untrustworthy and supports Lysander's argument that he would
be the better husband.

5. What do Lysander and Hermia plan to do about this seemingly impossible situation? Why do
they tell Helena?

Lysander and Hermia plan to meet each other in the woods the next night and elope. They plan
to flee to the house of Lysander's aunt who lives seven leagues from Athens, where the Athenian
law cannot touch them and they can get married. They tell Helena because they trust her as a
friend and they believe that it might give her confidence and hope in her quest to win
Demetrius's heart as Hermia will be out of the way.

6. Even though Helena loves Demetrius and is Hermias best friend, why does she decide to tell
Demetrius of Hermia and Lysanders plans?

Helena decides to tell Demetrius of Hermia and Lysander's plan because she thinks that
Demetrius will be so grateful that he will love her again.

7. Identify Hermia's basic dilemma. What are the choices outlined for her by Theseus and her
father? What other choices does Lysander suggest?

Hermia's basic dilemma is that she loves Lysander and wishes to marry him, but her father,
Egeus, will not allow it and wants her to marry Demetrius. The choices outlined for her by
Theseus and her father are that she must marry Demetrius, face death, or become a nun.
Lysander suggests that they meet in the forest the next night and flee from Athens to his aunt's
house which is seven leagues away.

Act II, Scene 1

8. What does the reader find out about the current relationship between Oberon, King of the
Fairies, and Titania, Queen of the Fairies, from Puck and the first fairy?

From Puck and the first fairy, the reader learns that the current relationship between Oberon and
Titania is rather rocky and that the two always argue when they meet.

9. How have Oberon and Titania been involved in the past with Theseus and Hippolyta; why
have they come to Athens?

Hippolyta is the previous love interest of Oberon and Titania has had a past relationship with
Theseus. They have come to Athens to witness the wedding of Hippolyta and Theseus and to
give their bed joy and prosperity.

10. What effect has their quarrel had on nature, on the seasons, on humans?

Their quarrel causes horrible fogs and rains, leading to massive floods which destroy all in their
path. It throws the seasons completely off from their natural course. This upheaval of nature and
the seasons causes crops to fail and leaves the humans starving. Plague and disease also rage
through the land killing many.

11. Why wont Titania give up the changeling to Oberon?

Titania won't give up the changeling to Oberon because he is the son of a dear friend that she had
spent much time with. This friend died leaving the boy an orphan, so Titania feels that she owes
it to her companion to take him and raise him as her own.

12. What does Oberon send Puck to find?

Oberon sends Puck to find a small Western flower that had been hit by Cupid's arrow. This
flower bears the power to make anyone fall in love with the next living creature they see.

13. What are Oberons plans for Titania?

Oberon plans to squeeze the juice of the flower into Titania's eyes so that when she wakes up she
will fall in love with some vile creature. He plans to amuse himself by watching her dote upon
this creature. When Oberon believes that Titania has "learned her lesson" he will remove the
enchantment that the flower has put on her.

14. How does Helena react to Demetriuss verbal abuse?

Helena reacts to Demetrius's verbal abuse by fighting back with words, turning every insult he
throws at her into an expression of her undying love to him.

15. What is her response to his threats of physical abuse?

Helena's responded to his threats of physical abuse by saying that "his virtue is her privilege"
which means that she trusts him not to harm her in any way. Although he rejects her love and
flees from her she continues to pursue him through the forest.

16. In what way is Helenas behavior inappropriate for Athenian women?

Helena's behaviour is inappropriate for Athenian women because she is going after the man she
loves. In Athenian society, a man is meant to choose the woman and woo her. Women do not
have the option of finding their own love and they are meant to be obedient and subservient to

17. What does Oberon tell Puck to do about Demetrius and Helena?

Oberon tells Puck to find Demetrius and Helena and to squeeze the juice of the flower into
Demetrius's eyes. He hopes that the next thing Demetrius sees will be Helena and that he will
instantly fall in love with her and they will be happy together. Oberon informs Puck that he will
know the man he seeks by the Athenian garments he is wearing.

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