A Midsummer Nights Dream – Act 5 Scene 1


HIPPOLYTA
I don’t like seeing poor people overburdened or looking bad when they’re trying to do something good. THESEUS
You won’t see anything like that, sweetheart. HIPPOLYTA
He just said that they’re no good at acting. love and tongue-tied simplicity can say the most even when they’re saying the least, in my opinion. PHILOSTRATE
Your grace, the person who is going to deliver the prologue is ready. THESEUS
Let him come forward. If we happen to offend you, it’s because we want to. We don’t want you to think we came here to offend you, except that we want to offend you with our good intentions. Our plan to show off our little bit of talent will wind up getting us executed. Please keep in mind we’re only here out of spite. We don’t come here with the intention of making you happy. We’re absolutely not here to delight you. The actors are ready to come out and make you sorry. By watching their show, you’ll find out everything you’re likely to know. THESEUS
This guy doesn’t pay much attention to punctuation. HIPPOLYTA
Yes, he performed his prologue like a child plays a recorder —he can make sounds, but they’re out of control. THESEUS
His speech was like a tangled chain. Who’s next? (delivered by QUINCE) Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps you are wondering what is going on. Well, keep wondering, until the truth makes everything clear. This man is Pyramus if you want to know. This beautiful lady is definitely Thisbe. This man with the limestone and cement is portraying Wall, that horrible wall that kept these lovers apart. They are content to whisper through Wall’s little hole, the poor souls, and no one should be surprised. This man, with his lantern, dog, and thornbush, portrays Moonshine, because, if you want to know, the lovers were not ashamed to meet each other by moonshine at Ninus’s tomb in order to carry on their courtship. This grisly beast, which is called “Lion,” scared away, or rather frightened, the faithful Thisbe when she arrived at the meeting place at night. As she ran away from him, she dropped her cloak, which the horrible Lion stained with his bloody mouth. Soon Pyramus comes along, a tall and handsome young man, and finds his faithful Thisbe’s cloak to be dead. At this point, he takes his sword, his bloody blameful blade, and bravely breaks open his boiling bloody breast. And Thisbe, hiding in the shade of the mulberry bushes, took his dagger and killed herself. For the rest of the story, let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and the two lovers talk more about it, since they’re standing here. THESEUS
I wonder if the lion’s going to talk. If these asses can speak, a lion should be able to. WALL
(played by SNOUT) At this point I, Snout, play a wall. But not just any wall. I want you to understand that I’m pretending to be a kind of wall that has a little hole in it. The lovers Pyramus and Thisbe often whispered very secretly through that hole. This clay, this cement, and this stone that I’m carrying around show that I’m that wall. It’s the truth. And this is the crack, right side and left side (points with two fingers), through which the frightened lovers will be whispering. THESEUS
Can you imagine cement and stone talking better? DEMETRIUS
It’s the smartest partition I’ve ever heard speak, my lord. THESEUS
Pyramus is coming up to the wall. Be quiet! PYRAMUS
(played by BOTTOM) Oh, grim-looking night! Oh, night that is so black in color! Oh night, which is always there when it is not day! Oh night! Oh night! So sad, sad, sad, I’m afraid my Thisbe has forgotten her promise! —And you, oh Wall, oh sweet, oh lovely Wall, you stand between her father’s property and mine, you Wall, oh Wall, oh sweet and lovely Wall. Show me your hole to stick my eye up against! WALL HOLDS UP TWO FINGERS Thank you, you’re such a polite wall. God bless you for doing this. But what’s this I see? I don’t see any Thisbe. Oh wicked wall, through which I don’t see any happiness! Damn your stones for disappointing me like this! THESEUS
Since the wall is conscious, it should curse back at him. BOTTOM
(out of character) No, actually, sir, he shouldn’t say anything. It’s not his turn, it’s Thisbe’s. “Disappointing me like this” is Thisbe’s cue. She’s supposed to enter now, and I’ll see her through the wall. You’ll see, it’ll happen exactly like I say. Here she comes. THISBE
(played by FLUTE) Oh wall, you’ve often heard me moaning because you keep me separated from my handsome Pyramus! My cherry lips have often kissed your bricks, which are stuck together with cement. PYRAMUS
I see a voice! I’ll go to the hole to see if I can hear my Thisbe’s face. Thisbe? THISBE
You are my love, my love, I think. PYRAMUS
I’m your love, no matter what you think. And I’m still faithful to you, just like the famous Limander. THISBE
And I’ll be as faithful to you as Helen of Troy, until the day I die. PYRAMUS
Not even Shafalus was as faithful to his lover Procrus as I am to you. THISBE
Me too, I’m as faithful as Shafalus to Procrus. PYRAMUS
Oh, kiss me through the hole in this nasty wall. THISBE
But I’m only kissing the wall’s hole, not your lips at all. PYRAMUS
Will you meet me right away at Ninny’s grave? THISBE
Neither death nor life will stop me from coming WALL
I, Wall, have done my part. Now that I’m done, Wall can go away. THESEUS
The lovers should’ve waited around a little longer—the wall between them is down now. DEMETRIUS
What can you do? That’s what happens with talking walls. HIPPOLYTA
This is the silliest thing I’ve ever seen. THESEUS
The best plays are still only illusions, and the worst are just as good, if you just use your imagination to fill them in. HIPPOLYTA
In that case it’s your imagination that’s interesting, not the play. THESEUS
If we imagine these guys as they imagine themselves, then they’re first-class actors. Look, here come two noble animals, a man and a lion. LION
(played by SNUG) You, ladies, whose gentle hearts make you afraid of the smallest monstrous mouse that crawls around on the floor, might quake and tremble now when the wild lion roars in his most violent rage. You should know that I, Snug the carpenter, am not a fierce lion or a lioness, because if I were a lion and I showed up here to cause trouble, I’d be taking my life in my hands. THESEUS
Ah, it’s a sensitive animal, with a good conscience. DEMETRIUS
He’s the best actor I’ve ever seen play a lion. MOONSHINE
This lantern represents the horned moon— DEMETRIUS
He should have worn the
HORNS ON HIS HEAD.
Cuckolds (husbands whose wives cheat on them) were imagined as having horns.

horns on his head. THESEUS
He’s not a crescent moon, so his horns must be invisible inside the circle. MOONSHINE
This lantern represents the moon. I myself am playing the man in the moon— THESEUS
Well then, that’s the biggest mistake of all. The man should be inside the lantern. How else is he the “man in the moon”? DEMETRIUS
He can’t go in there because of the candle. It’s too hot. HIPPOLYTA
I’m tired of this moon. I wish he’d wax or wane off the stage. THESEUS
It seems like he’s waning, but out of politeness we’ll have to wait and see. LYSANDER
Go ahead, Moon. MOONSHINE
All I wanted to tell you is that the lantern is the moon, I’m the man in the moon, this thornbush is my thornbush, and this dog is my dog. DEMETRIUS
Well, all of these should be in the lantern, because they’re all in the moon. But be quiet, here comes Thisbe. THISBE
This is old Ninny’s tomb. But where is my love? LION
(roaring) Hey! DEMETRIUS
Good roaring, Lion! THESEUS
Good running, Thisbe! HIPPOLYTA
Good shining, Moon!—Really, the Moon shines very well. THESEUS
That’s good, Lion! Shake it around like a cat with a mouse. DEMETRIUS
And then Pyramus showed up. LYSANDER
So the lion disappeared. PYRAMUS
Sweet Moon, I thank you for your sunny beams. I thank you, Moon, for shining now so bright, because by the light of your gracious, golden, glittering gleams, I hope to be able to see my faithful Thisbe. —But wait. Oh no! But, look, poor me, what a terrible tragedy is here! Eyes, do you see? How can it be? Oh, dainty duck! Oh, dear! Your cloak so good, what, stained with blood? Come, terrible Furies, and punish whoever has hurt her! Oh, Fate, come and cut the thread of my life. Conquer, crush, conclude, and kill! THESEUS
You could get sad watching this actor’s passionate lament—if one of your good friends happened to die right at the same time. HIPPOLYTA
Damned if I don’t feel sorry for him. PYRAMUS
Oh, Mother Nature, why did you create lions? A mean and awful lion has deflowered my darling, who is— —no, no, who was the most beautiful lady who ever lived, or loved, or liked, or looked. Come on, tears, pour over me! Come on out, sword, and wound Pyramus in the chest—yes, right here on the left side where his heart is. (PYRAMUS stabs himself) And so I’m dying. Here I go, here I go. My soul has fled to the sky. My tongue shall see no more, It’s time for the moon to go away. Now die, die die die DEMETRIUS
Is someone throwing dice? I guess it’s “die,” not dice, since there’s only one of him. LYSANDER
Actually he’s a die with no dots, since he’s nothing—he’s dead. THESEUS
With a doctor’s help he might recover and become an ass again. HIPPOLYTA
If Moonshine’s gone before Thisbe comes back, how will she be able to see in the dark to find her lover dead? THESEUS
She’ll see him by starlight. Here she comes. Her moaning and groaning will end the play. HIPPOLYTA
I don’t think a ridiculous Pyramus like that one deserves much moaning. I hope she keeps it short. DEMETRIUS
I can’t decide whether Pyramus or Thisbe is better. God help us if he’s a better man. But God help us if she’s a better woman. LYSANDER
Look, she’s spotted him with those sweet eyes of hers. DEMETRIUS
And now she’ll start moaning, of course— THISBE
Are you asleep, my love? What, are you dead, my dove? Oh, Pyramus, get up! Speak, speak. Can’t you talk? Dead, dead? The dirt of a grave must cover your sweet eyes! Your lily-white lips, your cherry-red nose, and your buttercup-yellow cheeks are gone, gone forever. Lovers, moan and weep. His eyes were as green as leeks. Oh, Fate, come, come to me, with hands as pale as milk. Soak your hands in blood and gore, since you have cut the thread of his life with scissors. Tongue, do not speak. Come, trusty sword. Come, blade, drench my breast with blood. (she stabs herself) Goodbye, friends! This is how Thisbe comes to an end. Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye, (THISBE dies) AUDIENCE APPLAUSE THESEUS
Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead. DEMETRIUS
Yes, and Wall too. BOTTOM
(out of character) No, I assure you. The wall that kept their fathers apart has been taken down. Would you like to see the epilogue or hear a country dance between two of us? THESEUS
No epilogue, please. Your play doesn’t need to be excused afterward with an epilogue. Never apologize—when the actors are all dead, no one can be blamed. Forget your epilogue. Dear friends, let’s go to bed. We’ll continue this celebration for two weeks, with nightly parties and new fun. ROBIN
Now the hungry lion roars and the wolf howls at the moon. The farmer snores, exhausted from his work. The charred logs glow in the fireplace, and the owl’s hoot makes the sick man think about his own death. Now is the time of night when graves open wide and release spirits to glide over the graveyard paths. And we fairies, who run away from the sun just like the goddess of the night, following darkness like a dream, are getting antsy. But I’m here to make sure that not even a mouse disturbs this blessed house. I’ve been sent to clean house a bit before the fairies come. OBERON
Let the dying fire shine a glimmering light throughout the house. I want every elf and fairy to hop lightly, like a bird on a twig, and to sing and dance this song along with me. TITANIA We’ll all join hands and sing, and bless this place with our fairy grace. OBERON
Now, until morning, each fairy should walk through this house. Run along. Don’t stay long. Meet me at dawn. ROBIN
If we actors have offended you, just think of it this way and everything will be all right— you were asleep when you saw these visions, and this silly and pathetic story was no more real than a dream. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t get upset with me. If you forgive us, we’ll make everything all right. I’m an honest Puck, and I swear that if we’re lucky enough not to get hissed at, we’ll make it up to you soon. If not, then I’m a liar. So good night to everyone. Give me some applause, if we’re friends, and Robin will make everything up to you. APPLAUSE

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