I wonder if Titania is awake yet, and if she is, I wonder what the first thing she saw was. Whatever it is, she must be completely in love with it now. Ah, here comes my messenger.— What’s going on, you crazy spirit? What havoc have you wreaked in this part of the forest? My mistress Titania is in love with a monster. While she was sleeping in her bed of flowers, a group of bumbling idiots, rough workmen from Athens, got together nearby to rehearse some play they plan to perform on Theseus’s wedding day. The stupidest one, who played Pyramus in their play, finished his scene and went to sit in the bushes to wait for his next cue. I took that opportunity to stick a donkey’s head on him. When it was time for him to go back onstage and talk to his Thisbe, he came out of the bushes and everyone saw him. One of them was so frightened when he heard my footsteps that he yelled, “Murder!” and called for help from Athens. They started to become scared of inanimate objects, terrified by the thorns and briars that catch at their clothing and pull off their sleeves and hats. I led them on in this frightened, distracted state, and left sweet At that exact moment, Titania woke up and immediately fell in love with him, an ass. This is going even better than I planned. But have you put the love juice from the flower on the eyes of that Athenian, as I asked you to do? Yes, I found him when he was asleep——so that’s taken care of too— and the Athenian woman was sleeping near him. When he woke up, he must have seen her. Step aside. Here’s the Athenian coming now. That’s definitely the woman I saw, but it’s not the same man. Why are you so rude to someone who loves you so much? Save that kind of harsh language for your worst enemy. I’m only scolding you now, but I should treat you much worse, because I’m afraid you’ve given me good reason to curse you. If you killed Lysander while he was sleeping, then you’re already up to your ankles in blood. You might as well jump right into a bloodbath and kill me, too. He was more faithful to me than the sun is to the daytime Would he have snuck away from me while I was asleep? The only possibility is that you’ve murdered him. A murderer should look like you do, so pale and grim. That’s how someone who’s been murdered should look, and that’s how I look. You’ve pierced me through the heart with your cruelty, and yet you, the murderer, look as bright and clear as a star in the sky. What does that have to do with my Lysander? Where is he? h, good Demetrius, will you find him for me? I would rather feed his corpse to my dogs. Get out, dog! You’ve driven me to my wit’s end. Did you kill him, then? From now on I won’t even consider you a human being. Oh, just tell the truth for once. tell the truth, if only for my sake Would you have even dared to look at him when he was awake? And did you kill him while he was sleeping? Oh, how brave of you! A snake could do that as easily as you could. A snake did do it, because no snake ever had a more forked, lying tongue than you have. You’re getting all worked up over a misunderstanding I didn’t kill Lysander. As far as I know, he’s not even dead. Then please tell me he’s all right. If I told you that, what would I get out of it? The privilege of never seeing me again. And now I’m going to leave your despised company. You’ll never see me again, whether or not he’s dead. I can’t go after her when she’s in a rage like this. So I’ll stay here for a while. Sadness gets worse when you haven’t had enough sleep. I’ll try to sleep a little here. (to ROBIN) What have you done? You’ve made a mistake and put the love-juice on someone else, someone who was truly in love. Because of your mistake someone’s true love must have turned bad, instead of this man’s false love being turned into a true love. In that case, it must be fate. That’s the way of the world. For every man who’s faithful to his true love, a million end up running after a different lover. Go around the forest, moving faster than the wind, and make sure you find Helena of Athens —She’s lovesick, and her face is pale from all the sighing she’s been doing, because sighing is bad for the blood. Bring her here with some trick or illusion, and I’ll put the charm on his eyes for when she comes. I go, I go, look at me go—faster than an arrow from a Tartar’s bow. (The Tartars were a people from Asia Minor famous for their archery) You purple flower, hit by Cupid’s arrow, sink into the pupils of this man’s eyes. When he sees the girl he should love, make her seem as bright to him as the evening star. Young man, when you wake up, if she’s nearby, beg her to cure your lovesickness. Helena is nearby, boss. The young man who I mistook for this one is there too, begging her to love him. Should we watch this ridiculous scene? Lord, what fools these mortals are! Step aside. The noise they’re making will wake up Demetrius. Why do you think I’m making fun of you when I tell you I love you? People don’t cry when they’re mocking someone. How can it seem like I’m making fun of you, when my tears prove that I’m sincere? You get trickier and trickier. You’ve made the same promises to me and to Hermia—they can’t both be true! They must both be false. The promises you’re making to me belong to Hermia. Will you abandon her? If you weighed the promises you made to me against the promises you made to her, they’d come out the same—they both weigh nothing. They’re lies. I wasn’t thinking clearly when I made those promises to her. And I don’t believe you’re thinking clearly now, as you break those promises. Demetrius loves her, and he doesn’t love you. (waking up) Oh Helena, you goddess, you divine and perfect nymph! What can I compare your eyes to? Crystal isn’t as clear as they are. Oh, your lips are as ripe as a pair of tempting cherries touching each other! The pure white of the snow on a mountaintop seems black as a crow’s wing next to the whiteness of your hands. Oh, let me kiss your beautiful white hand. It’ll make me so happy! Damn it! I see you’re all determined to gang up on me for a few laughs. If you had any manners at all, you wouldn’t treat me like this. Can’t you just hate me, as I know you do? Do you have to get together to humiliate me too? f you were real men, as you pretend to be, you wouldn’t treat a lady this way, making vows and promises and praising my beauty You’re competing for Hermia’s love, and now you’re competing to see which one of you can make fun of me the most. That’s a great idea, a really manly thing to do—making a poor girl cry! No respectable person would offend an innocent girl just to have some fun. Don’t be cruel, Demetrius. I know you love Hermia, and you know I know it. Right here, right now, I swear I’m giving up all my claims on her and handing her to you. In exchange, give up your claim to love Helena, since I love her and will love her until I die. Nobody’s ever gone to so much trouble just to make fun of someone. Lysander, keep your Hermia. I don’t want her. If I ever loved her, all that love is gone now. My love for her was temporary. Now I’ll love Helena forever. Helena, it’s not true. Don’t insult a deep love that you don’t understand, or you’ll pay the price. Look, here comes the woman you love. It’s hard to see clearly in the dark of night, but it’s easier to hear well. I couldn’t see you, Lysander, but I heard your voice, and that’s how I found you. Why did you leave me alone so unkindly? Why stay when love tells you to go? But what love could make my Lysander leave me? I had to hurry to my love, beautiful Helena. You can’t mean what you’re saying. It’s impossible. So, she’s in on this too! Now I see that all three of them have gotten together to play this cruel trick on me. Hurtful Hermia, you ungrateful girl, have you conspired with these two to provoke me with this horrible teasing? Have you forgotten all the talks we’ve had together, the vows we made to be like sisters to one another, all the hours we spent together, wishing that we never had to say goodbye—have you forgotten? Our friendship in our schooldays, our childhood innocence? We used to sit together and sew one flower with our two needles, sewing it on one piece of cloth, sitting on the same cushion, singing one song in the same key, as if our hands, our sides, our voices and our minds were stuck together. We grew together like twin cherries We seemed to have two separate bodies, but we had one heart. Do you want to destroy our old friendship by joining these men to insult your poor friend? It’s not friendly, and it’s not ladylike. All women would be angry with you for doing it, even though I’m the only one who’s hurt by it. I’m completely dumbfounded by what you’re saying. I’m not insulting you. It sounds more like you’re insulting me. Come on, confess. Didn’t you send Lysander, as an insult, to follow me around praising my eyes and my face? Haven’t you made your other love, Demetrius—who kicked me with his foot not long ago—call me a goddess and a divine, rare, precious, heavenly creature? Why does he talk like that to a girl he can’t stand? And why does Lysander deny that he loves you, when he loves you so deeply? Why would he show me any affection, unless you told him to? Why does it matter that I’m not as lucky or lovable as you are and that the love I feel is unrequited? Why does it matter that I’m not as lucky or lovable as you are and that the love I feel is unrequited? You should pity me for that reason, not hate me. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Oh, fine. All right, go ahead, keep up your little game, pretend to be sympathetic, but then nudge each other and wink and make faces at me when I turn my back. Keep up your wonderful game. You’re doing such a good job on this trick, someone should write a book about it. If you had any sense of pity, or manners, you wouldn’t pretend to fight over me like this. But goodbye. It’s partly my own fault, since I followed you here. Leaving—or dying—will soon take care of everything. Stay, lovely Helena. Listen to my excuse. My love, my life, my soul, beautiful Helena! That’s a good one. (to LYSANDER) Don’t insult her like that, Lysander darling. (to LYSANDER) If Hermia’s begging can’t make you stop insulting Helena, I can force you to do so. You can’t force me any more than Hermia can beg me. Your threats are no stronger than her whining.— Helena, I love you. I swear I do. I say that I love you more than he does. If that’s what you say, go fight a duel with me and prove it. You’re on. Let’s do it. Lysander, where are you going with all this? (to HERMIA) Get away, you African! (to HERMIA) No, no. He’ll act like he’s going to break free from you, Hermia. (to LYSANDER) Pretend like you’re going to follow me, but then don’t come. You’re a coward, get out of here! (to HERMIA) Stop hanging on me, you cat, you thorn. Let go of me, or I’ll shake you off like a snake. Why have you gotten so rude? What’s happened to you, my darling? Your darling? Get out, you dark-skinned gypsy! Get out, you horrible poison. Get out! Are you joking? Of course he is, and so are you. Demetrius, I’m ready to fight you as promised. I wish we had a signed legal contract. I can see you don’t keep your promises very well. I don’t trust you. What? Do you want me to hit Hermia, hurt her, kill her? Sure, I hate her, but I wouldn’t hurt her. (to LYSANDER) Can you hurt me any more than by saying you hate me? Hate me? Why? What’s happened to you, my love? Am I not Hermia? Aren’t you Lysander? I’m as beautiful now as I was a little while ago. You still loved me when we fell asleep, but when you woke up you left me. So you left me—Oh, God help me!—For real? I certainly did, and I never wanted to see you again. So stop hoping and wondering what I mean. I’ve spelled it out for you clearly. It’s no joke. I hate you and love Helena. Oh, no! (to HELENA) You trickster, you snake! You thief! What, did you sneak in at night and steal my love’s heart from him? Oh, that’s very nice! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You’re going to make me mad enough to answer you? Damn you, you faker, you puppet! “Puppet”? Why “puppet”?— Oh, I see where this is going. She’s talking about our difference in height. She’s paraded in front of him to show off how tall she is. She won him over with her height. Does he have such a high opinion of you because I’m so short? So how short am I, you painted barber pole? So how short am I, you painted barber pole? Tell me. How short am I? I’m not too short to gouge your eyes out with my fingernails. (to LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS) Please don’t let her hurt me, gentlemen, however much you want to tease me. I never was much good with insults. I’m not mean and catty like her. I’m a nice shy girl. Please don’t let her hit me. Maybe you think that because she’s shorter than me I can take her. “Shorter!” See, she’s doing it again! Good Hermia, please don’t act so bitter toward me. I always loved you, Hermia, and gave you advice. I never did anything to hurt you—except once, when I told Demetrius that you planned to sneak off into this forest. And I only did that because I loved Demetrius so much. threatened to hit me, kick me—even kill me. Now just let me go quietly back to Athens. I’ll carry my mistakes back with me. I won’t follow you anymore. Please let me go. You see how naïve and foolish I’ve been. Well, get out of here then! What’s keeping you? My stupid heart, which I’m leaving behind here. What, you’re leaving it with Lysander? No, with Demetrius. Don’t be afraid. She can’t hurt you, Helena. (to LYSANDER) That’s right, Hermia won’t hurt Helena even if you try to help her. Oh, when you get her angry, she’s a good fighter, and vicious too. She was a hellcat in school. And she’s fierce, even though she’s little. “Little” again? Nothing but “little” and “short”! — Why are you letting her insult me like this? Let me at her!. (to HERMIA) Get lost, you dwarf, you tiny little weed, you scrap, you acorn! You’re doing too much to defend a woman who wants nothing to do with you. Leave Hermia alone. Don’t talk about Helena. Don’t take Helena’s side. If you continue treating Hermia so badly, you’ll pay for it. Hermia’s not holding onto me anymore. Follow me if you’re brave enough, and we’ll fight over Helena. “Follow”? No, I’ll walk right next to you, side by side. All this fighting is because of you. Stay where you are. I’m not sticking around here any more. I don’t trust you. You might be a better fighter than I am, but my legs are longer and I can run away faster. I just can’t believe any of this. I don’t know what to say. (to ROBIN) This is all your fault. You make mistakes constantly, or else you cause this kind of trouble on purpose. Believe me, King of Illusions, I made a mistake. Didn’t you tell me that I’d be able to recognize the man by the Athenian clothes he was wearing? So far I’ve done exactly what I was supposed to do—I put the love potion on an Athenian’s eyes. And so far I’m pleased with the way things have turned out, since I find all of this commotion very entertaining. As you can see, these lovers are looking for a place to fight. Hurry up, Robin, and make the night dark and cloudy. Cover the sky with a low-hanging fog, as dark as hell, and get these overeager rivals so completely lost in the woods that they can’t run into each other. That way you’ll get them away from each other until they’re so exhausted that they’ll sleep like the dead. When they’re asleep, crush some of this flower’s juice into Lysander’s eyes. The flower’s juice has the power to erase all the damage that’s been done to his eyes, and to make him see normally, the way he used to. When they wake up, all this trouble and conflict will seem like a dream or a meaningless vision. ( OBERON gives a new flower to ROBIN) When they’re asleep, crush some of this flower’s juice into Lysander’s eyes. The flower’s juice has the power to erase all the damage that’s been done to his eyes, and to make him see normally, the way he used to. When they wake up, all this trouble and conflict will seem like a dream or a meaningless vision. Then the lovers will go back to Athens, united together until death. While you’re busy with that, I’ll go see Queen Titania and ask her once again for the Indian boy. And then I’ll undo the spell that I cast over her, so she won’t be in love with that monster anymore. Then everything will be peaceful again. We’ve got to act fast, my lord of the fairies. Night’s fading quickly, and in the distance the morning star is shining, warning us that dawn is coming. At dawn, the ghosts that have been wandering around all night go home to the graveyards. The souls of people who weren’t buried in holy ground, but instead lie rotting by the side of the road or at the bottom of a river, have already gone back to their wormy graves. They weren’t buried in a real graveyard because they committed suicide, and they don’t want their shame to be seen in daylight, so they avoid sunlight and stay forever in the darkness of night. But we’re not like that. We’re a different kind of spirit, and we don’t have to run away from the sunlight. I like the morning. I often wander around in the woods like a forest ranger until the sun rises in the fiery red sky over the ocean, turning the salty green water to gold. But you should hurry anyway. Don’t delay. We still have time to get all of this done before daybreak. Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down. The people fear me in the country and the town.
Goblin, lead them up and down. Here comes one of them now. Where are you, Demetrius, you arrogant bastard? Say something. (in DEMETRIUS’s voice) I’m over here, you villain, with my sword out and ready to fight. Where are you? I’m coming. (in DEMETRIUS’s voice) Let’s go to a flatter area where we can fight more easily. Lysander, say something! You coward, did you run away from me? Say something! Are you behind some bush? Where are you hiding? (in LYSANDER’s voice) You coward, are you bragging to the stars and telling the bushes that you want a fight, but then you won’t come and fight me? Come here, you coward! Come here, you child! I’ll beat you with a stick. It would be shameful to fight you with a sword, the way I would fight with a real man. Are you there? He’s walking ahead of me, and he keeps daring me to follow him. When I reach the place he’s calling from, he disappears. This villain is much quicker than I am. I ran after him fast, but he ran away from me faster, so that now here I am in some dark part of the forest where the ground is uneven. I’ll rest here. (he lies down) I hope the pleasant daytime comes soon! As soon as the gray light of early morning appears, I’ll find Demetrius and get my revenge for this insult. (in LYSANDER’s voice) Ha, ha, ha! Hey, You coward, why aren’t you coming? Wait for me, if you’re not too scared! I know that’s why you’re running away from me, constantly changing places—you’re afraid to stand still and wait for me. You’re scared to look me in the eye. Where are you now? (in LYSANDER’s voice) Come here. I’m over here. No, you’re just taunting me. You’ll pay for this if I ever see you face-to-face in the daylight. Go wherever you want. I’m exhausted; I need to lie down and sleep on this cold ground. But watch out. I’ll find you at dawn. Oh, what a long, tedious, exhausting night! I wish it would end. I wish the comforting light of day would shine so I can go back to Athens and get away from these people who hate me so much I hope I’ll be able to sleep and escape my troubles for a while. People can sometimes forget their difficulties when they’re asleep. (HELENA lies down and sleeps) Only three so far? We’re still waiting for one more. Two of both kinds makes four. Ah, here she comes, angry and sad. Cupid is a bad boy for making poor women go crazy like this. I’ve never been more exhausted or upset. I’m all wet from the dew and scratched up by thorns, and I can’t crawl any farther. I just can’t go on. My legs can’t hold themselves up. I’ll sleep here until morning. If they do fight, I hope Lysander is safe! (HERMIA lies down and sleeps) Sleep well there on the ground. I’ll cure you, gentle lover, by putting this medicine on your eyes. (ROBIN puts the nectar of the flower on LYSANDER’s eyelids) When you wake you will be truly delighted to see the woman you once loved. And when you wake up, you’ll be a walking illustration of the well-known country proverb. “Jack will have Jill and everything will be all right.”