Discussion Questions for
A Midsummer Night's Dream
by Glen Draeger
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Please read about these questions here.
pp. 1-31/Act I-III, scene 1
In Act I, scene 1, line 18(pg. 1) Theseus says to Hyppolyta, "I will wed thee in another key . . ." What does he mean by this?
Given the times, the culture and the law do you think it would be better for Hermia to do what her father asks and marry Demetrius? Why or why not?
In Act I, scene 1, line 122 Theseus says, "Come, my Hyppolyta: what cheer, my love?" He’s basically asking, "What’s wrong?" What is wrong? What is Hyppolyta unhappy about?
In Act I, scene 1, line 134(pg. 5), Lysander says, "The course of true love never did run smooth . . ." What does he mean by this?
In Act I, scene 1, lines 152-54(pp. 5-6), Hermia says, "Then let us teach our trial patience,/Because it is a customary cross,/As due to love . . ." What does she mean by this? Does all true love face this "cross?"
How would you describe Helena's personality?
What is Helena's view of love?(see Act I, scene 1, lines 226-251 or pg. 8).
In the above lines how does Shakespeare use the term "mind" in relation to love?
Why does Helena call love "the boy" in line 241(pg. 8)? In this same section Helena describes Demetrius's love. What kind of love is Demetrius's?
How would you describe Bottom in Act I, scene 2(pp. 9-10)?
How would you describe Puck's personality?
In Act II, scene 2, lines 112-17(pg. 15, last line, pg. 16 top 5 lines) what is Titania saying about her conflict with Oberon? What is that conflict?
Would you call what Helena feels for Demetrius love(see Act 2, scene 2, lines 202 and following or pp. 18-19)?
What are the actors’ view of the women who will be seeing their play(see Act III, scene 1, lines 7-38 or pp 26-27)?
What does Bottom mean when he says that "reason and love keep little company together now-a-days"? See Act III, scene 1, line 130-31 or the top of pg. 30.
pp. 32-66/Act III, sc. 2-Act 5
What does Puck mean when he says, "Then fate o'errules, that, one man holding troth,/A million fail, confounding oath on oath." See Act III, scene 2, lines 92-93 or pg. 34.
Probably one of the most famous if not the most famous line from the play is Puck's "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"(Act III, scene 2, line 115). Is this a fair assessment by Puck? Why or why not?
Who is responsible for all the trouble the lovers are having? Egeus? Puck? Oberon? The lovers? Someone else? All of them? Explain your answer.
In Act III, scene 2, lines 151-52(pg. 36) Helena says, "If you were men, as men you are in show,/You would not use a gentle lady so . . ." If they are not men what are they? Why does she consider them not to be men?
At the end of Act IV, scene 1(pg. 52) Bottom awakes from what he thinks is a dream. He calls it a "rare vision." He also says that "man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream" and later says, "it shall be called Bottom's Dream, because it hath no bottom . . ." He also misquotes a verse from the Bible, I Cor. 2:9-10, in relation the dream's mystery. What does he mean by all this? Is Shakespeare telling us anything about his play(remember the title!)? Explain your answer.
Along with the above one of the most famous speeches from the play is that of Theseus in the beginning of Act V(pg. 54) where he comments on madmen, lovers and poets. What does he mean when he says that "Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,/Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend/More than cool reason ever comprehends"?
Later in the same speech(pg. 54) Theseus says that the poet ". . . gives to airy nothing/A local habitation and a name./Such tricks hath strong imagination,/That, if it would but apprehend some joy,/It comprehends some bringer of that joy." What is Theseus's assessment of poets?
What does Theseus think of imagination?(from the same speech)
What is Hyppolyta's answer to Theseus's skepticism(see Act V, scene 1, lines 23-27 or pg. 55)?
What does Bottom mean when he says, "No, I assure you, the wall is down that parted their fathers"? See Act V, scene 1, lines 342-43 or pg. 64.
What does Theseus mean when he says, "No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse; for when the players are all dead, there need none be blamed"? See Act V, scene 1, lines 345-47 or pg. 64. Is Shakespeare saying anything about plays in these lines? If so, what?
Many critics consider Bottom to be the most important character in the play. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Does the unseen world affect the seen? Is there an unseen world?
Do you think Shakespeare is saying anything specific about young men and women in love? If so, what?
Why do you think Shakespeare calls his play a "dream?"
©2005-2013 Glen Draeger (all rights reserved)
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