A Midsummer Night's Dream | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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A Midsummer Night's Dream | Act 2, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

Titania's fairies sing her to sleep, and then Oberon places the magic flower nectar on her eyelids. Lysander and Hermia enter soon after, lost and tired. They lie down (a little apart, being unmarried) and fall asleep. Puck enters and, seeing Lysander's Athenian clothing, believes he is the man Oberon sent him to find. He places the flower's juice on Lysander's eyelids and then leaves.

Demetrius enters with Helena still chasing after him, but he finally evades her and runs off. Helena sees Hermia and Lysander and wakes up Lysander, thinking he is injured. As soon as he opens his eyes, he falls in love with her. Helena thinks Lysander is making fun of her and runs away. Lysander follows. When Hermia wakes up, Lysander is gone. She goes off to search for him.

Analysis

Oberon sows chaos on purpose, as revenge against Titania's prideful denial of his demand that she give him the changeling boy. He hopes that she falls in love with something vile, which creates a sense of suspense as the audience wonders what "vile" thing she will see.

Puck sows chaos without meaning to. He mistakenly applies the juice to the wrong lover's eyes, trusting Oberon's vague description of a young man in "Athenian garments." The situation also creates a sense of suspense as the audience imagines how this will play out now that Helena is loved by the wrong man and the man Hermia loves no longer loves her. A confrontation seems imminent.

Notably, within this larger dreamlike plot, an actual dream takes place: Hermia dreams about a snake eating her heart. This foreboding dream foreshadows the betrayal of love and trust she will soon experience.

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