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A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act II, Scene 2

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Act II, Scene 2

Another part of the woods near Athens.

Titania's fairies perform a song and dance for her, then leave her alone while she sleeps. Oberon sneaks over to her and puts the juice of the magic flower in her eyes. Lysander and Hermia enter and admit that they are lost in the woods. They lie down separately to sleep. Robin, thinking that Lysander is the Athenian youth that Oberon referred to in the previous scene, puts the juice of the magic flower into Lysander's eyes. Demetrius and Helena enter. Demetrius again tells Helena not to follow him, then he exits. Lysander awakes and immediately falls in love with Helena. Helena thinks Lysander is mocking her and exits furiously. Lysander follows. Hermia awakes alone and scared. She exits looking for Lysander.
  1. Enter Titania, Queen of Fairies, with her train.

Titania

1 - 8
  1. Come, now a roundel and a fairy song;
    Feb 28, 2019 Miko
    a type of dance performed in circles
  2. Then, for the third part of a minute, hence,
  3. Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds,
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    caterpillars
    Mar 14, 2019 Miko
    A type of rose with large white flowers. Notice that in Act IV, scene 1, Titania again mentions musk-roses, this time for a garland for Bottom's head. Curiously, the musk-rose is an almost entirely domestic flower - it would be unlikely to grow out in the wild where Titania lives.
  4. Some war with rere-mice for their leathren wings
    Feb 28, 2019 Miko
    bats
  5. To make my small elves coats, and some keep back
  6. The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots and wonders
  7. At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep;
    Jul 19, 2020 Miko
    clever or elegant
  8. Then to your offices, and let me rest.
  1. Fairies sing.

First Fairy

9 - 12
  1. You spotted snakes with double tongue,
  2. Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen,
  3. Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    The Anguis fragilis, also called the slow-worm or the adder, a type of legless lizard that is not actually blind.
  4. Come not near our fairy queen.

Fairy Chorus

13 - 19
  1. Philomele, with melody,
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    Another name for the nightingale. The name comes from the Greek mythological figure Philomela, a princess of Athens who was turned into a nightingale.
    Feb 28, 2019 Miko
    pronounced with a long “y” to rhyme with “lullaby”
  2. Sing in our sweet lullaby,
  3. Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.
  4. Never harm,
  5. Nor spell, nor charm,
  6. Come our lovely lady nigh.
  7. So good night, with lullaby.

First Fairy

20 - 23
  1. Weaving spiders, come not here;
  2. Hence, you long-legg’d spinners, hence!
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    go away
    Mar 9, 2019 Miko
    spiders
  3. Beetles black, approach not near;
    Mar 9, 2019 Miko
    “Beetle” was applied to any insect of black color.
  4. Worm nor snail, do no offense.

Fairy Chorus

24
  1. Philomele, with melody, etc.
    Jul 19, 2020 Miko
    In the folios and quartos, “etc” is spelled “&c”.

Second Fairy

25 - 26
  1. Hence, away! Now all is well.
  2. One aloof stand sentinel.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    One fairy should stand guard a short distance away. The presence of this sentinel raises the problem that apparently they don't see Oberon sneak over to Titania. In some stage presentations, Oberon's fairies abduct the sentinel.
  1. She sleeps.
    Jul 19, 2020 Miko
    This stage direction is not in the First Quarto.
  1. Enter Oberon

Oberon

27 - 34
  1. What thou seest when thou dost wake,
  2. Do it for thy true-love take;
  3. Love and languish for his sake.
    Apr 11, 2019 Miko
    pine away in love
  4. Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
    Mar 9, 2019 Miko
    A medium sized wild cat. Today the word specifically means a snow leopard, but in Shakespeare's day it could mean other cats such as a puma or a cheetah.
  5. Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
    Mar 9, 2019 Miko
    a leopard
  6. In thy eye that shall appear
  7. When thou wak’st, it is thy dear:
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Whatever you see when you wake up.
  8. Wake when some vile thing is near.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Oberon tells Titania to wake when some “vile thing” is near... ultimately an insulting thing to say about Bottom.
  1. Enter Lysander and Hermia.
    Jul 19, 2020 Miko
    Modern texts add the stage direction that Oberon exits before Lysander and Hermia enter.

Lysander

35 - 38
  1. Fair love, you faint with wand’ring in the wood;
  2. And to speak troth I have forgot our way.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    truth
  3. We’ll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good,
  4. And tarry for the comfort of the day.

Hermia

39 - 40
  1. Be’t so, Lysander. Find you out a bed;
  2. For I upon this bank will rest my head.

Lysander

41 - 42
  1. One turf shall serve as pillow for us both,
  2. One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    one pledge of love

Hermia

43 - 44
  1. Nay, good Lysander; for my sake, my dear,
  2. Lie further off yet; do not lie so near.

Lysander

45 - 52
  1. O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Lysander insists that he meant only innocent things when he said they should sleep together.
  2. Love takes the meaning in love’s conference:
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    When people who are in love talk with each other, they should understand each other.
  3. I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit,
  4. So that but one heart we can make of it;
  5. Two bosoms interchained with an oath,
    Mar 9, 2019 Miko
    Linked together. The First Folio changed this word to “interchanged”, but modern texts use the original “interchained”.
  6. So then two bosoms and a single troth.
  7. Then by your side no bed-room me deny;
    Jul 9, 2020 Miko
    Room in bed. Lysander is saying they can sleep together when they're married.
  8. For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.

Hermia

53 - 61
  1. Lysander riddles very prettily.
  2. Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    “Evil befall” or “curse”. In this sense, “beshrew” is a very mild curse. Hermia is saying “evil befall me if I said you lied”.
  3. If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.
  4. But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy,
  5. Lie further off, in humane modesty;
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    In this exchange, Lysander and Hermia make puns on two meanings of “lie”: to lie down, and to tell a lie.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    The First Quarto and First Folio have this word as “humane”. However, virtually every modern text changes it to “human”. The Folger edition goes so far as to put “human” in the text, then define it as “humane”. This PlayShakespeare.com edition keeps it as “humane”, meaning to be considerate or obliging to someone else.
  6. Such separation as may well be said
  7. Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid,
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Hermia says that, because they aren't married, it would be virtuous to avoid sleeping together.
  8. So far be distant; and good night, sweet friend.
  9. Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end!

Lysander

62 - 64
  1. Amen, amen, to that fair prayer, say I,
  2. And then end life when I end loyalty!
  3. Here is my bed; sleep give thee all his rest!

Hermia

65
  1. With half that wish the wisher’s eyes be press’d!
    Jul 19, 2020 Miko
    closed
  1. They sleep.
    Jul 5, 2021 Miko
    This stage direction is not in the First Quarto.
  1. Enter Puck.

Robin

66 - 83
  1. Through the forest have I gone,
  2. But Athenian found I none,
  3. On whose eyes I might approve
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    To test. I.e., Robin has yet to test the magic powers of the flower.
  4. This flower’s force in stirring love.
  5. Night and silenceWho is here?
  6. Weeds of Athens he doth wear:
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    He wears the clothing of an Athenian.
  7. This is he, my master said,
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Oberon intended for Robin to make Demetrius fall in love with Helena. Instead, Robin has found Lysander and puts the juice on Lysander's eyes.
  8. Despised the Athenian maid;
  9. And here the maiden, sleeping sound,
  10. On the dank and dirty ground.
  11. Pretty soul, she durst not lie
  12. Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.
    Apr 11, 2019 Miko
    someone who is bad mannered or boorish
  13. Churl, upon thy eyes I throw
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    an insulting term for a person of low rank
  14. All the power this charm doth owe.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    own
  15. When thou wak’st, let love forbid
  16. Sleep his seat on thy eyelid.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Robin is saying that when Lysander wakes up, he will not be able to go back to sleep because he will be so in love.
  17. So awake when I am gone,
  18. For I must now to Oberon.
  1. Exit.
  1. Enter Demetrius and Helena, running.

Helena

84
  1. Staythough thou kill me, sweet Demetrius.

Demetrius

85
  1. I charge thee hence, and do not haunt me thus.

Helena

86
  1. O, wilt thou darkling leave me? Do not so.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Will you leave me in the darkness?

Demetrius

87
  1. Stay, on thy peril; I alone will go.
  1. Exit.

Helena

88 - 102
  1. O, I am out of breath in this fond chase!
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Foolish, with maybe also the meaning of “in love”.
  2. The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    The more I pray, the less good luck I have. In this context, “grace” is the reward of prayer.
  3. Happy is Hermia, wheresoe’er she lies,
  4. For she hath blessed and attractive eyes.
  5. How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears;
  6. If so, my eyes are oft’ner wash’d than hers.
  7. No, no; I am as ugly as a bear;
  8. For beasts that meet me run away for fear.
  9. Therefore no marvel though Demetrius
  10. Do, as a monster, fly my presence thus.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Helena compares herself to a monster, saying that Demetrius runs from her like he would run from a monster.
  11. What wicked and dissembling glass of mine
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Deceiving. Could also mean “changing appearance”.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    mirror
  12. Made me compare with Hermia’s sphery eyne!
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Either resembling the heavenly spheres within which the stars move, or resembling the stars themselves.
  13. But who is here? Lysander! On the ground?
  14. Dead, or asleep? I see no blood, no wound.
  15. Lysander, if you live, good sir, awake.

Lysander

103 - 107
  1. Awaking.
  2. And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake.
  3. Transparent Helena, nature shows art,
  4. That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    “Transparent” here has two meanings: 1) its modern meaning that you can see through it, and 2) bright. So Lysander is calling Helena bright, and furthermore, he can see through to her heart.
  5. Where is Demetrius? O, how fit a word
  6. Is that vile name to perish on my sword!

Helena

108 - 110
  1. Do not say so, Lysander, say not so.
  2. What though he love your Hermia? Lord, what though?
  3. Yet Hermia still loves you; then be content.

Lysander

111 - 122
  1. Content with Hermia? No; I do repent
  2. The tedious minutes I with her have spent.
  3. Not Hermia, but Helena I love.
  4. Who will not change a raven for a dove?
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Literally, Lysander means that anybody would rather have a dove than a raven. Possibly also Lysander means that Helena has light hair or complexion and Hermia has dark hair or complexion. At III, 2, 260 Lysander refers to Hermia as “Ethiop”, possibly also referring to a dark appearance.
  5. The will of man is by his reason sway’d;
  6. And reason says you are the worthier maid.
  7. Things growing are not ripe until their season,
  8. So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason;
  9. And touching now the point of human skill,
  10. Reason becomes the marshal to my will,
    Apr 20, 2019 Miko
    a person in charge of organizing festivities and ceremonial events
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Lysander believes that he didn't love Helena until now because he was young and immature. Now that he is older and wiser (“touching now the point of human skill”) he now sees reason (and so is in love with Helena).
  11. And leads me to your eyes, where I o’erlook
  12. Love’s stories written in Love’s richest book.

Helena

123 - 134
  1. Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born?
  2. When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?
  3. Is’t not enough, is’t not enough, young man,
  4. That I did never, no, nor never can,
  5. Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius’ eye,
  6. But you must flout my insufficiency?
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Pronounced with a long “y” to rhyme with “eye”.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    But must you make fun of my inferiority to Hermia?
  7. Good troth, you do me wrong (good sooth, you do)
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    “Good troth” and “good sooth” are mild expletives meaning “in truth”.
  8. In such disdainful manner me to woo.
  9. But fare you well; perforce I must confess
  10. I thought you lord of more true gentleness.
  11. O that a lady, of one man refus’d,
  12. Should of another therefore be abus’d!
  1. Exit.

Lysander

135 - 144
  1. She sees not Hermia. Hermia, sleep thou there,
  2. And never mayst thou come Lysander near!
  3. For as a surfeit of the sweetest things
    Jul 26, 2020 Miko
    over eating
  4. The deepest loathing to the stomach brings,
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Too much sweet food gives you a stomachache.
  5. Or as the heresies that men do leave
  6. Are hated most of those they did deceive,
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    People most hate the heresies that they themselves had believed.
  7. So thou, my surfeit and my heresy,
  8. Of all be hated, but the most of me!
  9. And, all my powers, address your love and might
  10. To honor Helen and to be her knight.
  1. Exit.

Hermia

145 - 156
  1. Starting up.
  2. Help me, Lysander, help me! Do thy best
  3. To pluck this crawling serpent from my breast!
  4. Ay me, for pity! What a dream was here!
  5. Lysander, look how I do quake with fear.
  6. Methought a serpent eat my heart away,
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    In this case, “eat” is the past tense, where today we would say “ate”. It was pronounced “et”.
  7. And you sat smiling at his cruel prey.
  8. Lysander! What, remov’d? Lysander! Lord!
  9. What, out of hearing gone? No sound, no word?
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Modern texts split these words up into various numbers of sentences. The First Quarto reads “Lysander, Lord, What, out of hearing, gon?” The Folger edition reads “Lysander, lord! What, out of hearing? Gone?” and so on with different arrangements. The Yale edition suggests that “Lord” is an exclamation like “Good lord”.
  10. Alack, where are you? Speak, and if you hear;
  11. Speak, of all loves! I swoon almost with fear.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    in the name of love
  12. No? Then I well perceive you are not nigh:
  13. Either death, or you, I’ll find immediately.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    As it would be pronounced by a modern speaker, this line doesn't work as iambic pentameter or as a rhyme with the previous line. Some sources suggest that “Either” should be pronounced with one syllable. Other sources suggest that “immediately” should have a long “y”. Taking both of these suggestions, the line could be pronounced like this: e'er DEATH or YOU i'll FIND imMEEDyetLIE.
  1. Exit.
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