Act IV - Scene I

[The wood. Lysander, Demetrius, Helena, and Hermia, lying asleep]

Enter [Titania and Bottom; Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and] Fairies [Oberon] behind them, [unseen]

Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.
Where's Peaseblossom?(5)
Scratch my head, Peaseblossom. Where's Monsieur
Monsieur Cobweb; good monsieur, get you your(10)
weapons in your hand and kill me a red-hipped humble-bee
on the top of a thistle; and, good monsieur, bring me
the honey-bag. Do not fret yourself too much in the
action, monsieur; and, good monsieur, have a care the
honey-bag break not; I would be loth to have you over-flown(15)
with a honey-bag, signior. Where's Monsieur
Give me your neaf, Monsieur Mustardseed.
Pray you, leave your courtesy, good monsieur.(20)
What's your will?
Nothing, good monsieur, but to help Cavalery
Cobweb to scratch. I must to the barber's, monsieur; for
methinks I am marvellous hairy about the face; and I am
such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me I must(25)
What, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love?
I have a reasonable good ear in music. Let's have
the tongs and the bones.

Rural music

Or say, sweet love, what thou desirest to eat.(30)
Truly, a peck of provender; I could munch your
good dry oats. Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle
of hay. Good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.
I have a venturous fairy that shall seek
The squirrel's hoard, and fetch thee new nuts.(35)
I had rather have a handful or two of dried peas.
But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me; I have
an exposition of sleep come upon me.
Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.
Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away.(40)

[Exeunt Fairies]

So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist; the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee!

[They sleep]

Enter [Puck]

Welcome, good Robin. See'st thou this sweet sight?(45)
Her dotage now I do begin to pity;
For, meeting her of late behind the wood,
Seeking sweet favors for this hateful fool,
I did upbraid her and fall out with her.
For she his hairy temples then had rounded(50)
With coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers;
And that same dew which sometime on the buds
Was wont to swell, like round and orient pearls
Stood now within the pretty flowerets' eyes,
Like tears, that did their own disgrace bewail.(55)
When I had at my pleasure taunted her,
And she in mild terms begg'd my patience,
I then did ask of her her changeling child;
Which straight she gave me, and her fairy sent
To bear him to my bower in fairy land.(60)
And now I have the boy, I will undo
This hateful imperfection of her eyes.
And, gentle Puck, take this transformed scalp
From off the head of this Athenian swain,
That he awaking when the other do(65)
May all to Athens back again repair,
And think no more of this night's accidents
But as the fierce vexation of a dream.
But first I will release the fairy queen.

[Touching her eyes]

Be as thou wast wont to be;(70)
See as thou was wont to see.
Dian's bud o'er Cupid's flower
Hath such force and blessed power.
Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen.
My Oberon! What visions have I seen!(75)
Methought I was enamour'd of an ass.
There lies your love.
How came these things to pass?
O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!
Silence awhile. Robin, take off this head.(80)
Titania, music call; and strike more dead
Than common sleep of all these five the sense.
Music, ho, music, such as charmeth sleep!


Now when thou wakest with thine own fool's eyes peep.
Sound, music. Come, my Queen, take hands with me,(85)
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.
Now thou and I are new in amity,
And will tomorrow midnight solemnly
Dance in Duke Theseus' house triumphantly,
And bless it to all fair prosperity.(90)
There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.
Fairy king, attend and mark;
I do hear the morning lark.
Then, my Queen, in silence sad,(95)
Trip we after night's shade.
We the globe can compass soon,
Swifter than the wandering moon.
Come, my lord; and in our flight,
Tell me how it came this night(100)
That I sleeping here was found
With these mortals on the ground.


Wind horns. Enter Theseus, Egeus, Hippolyta, and all his train

Go, one of you, find out the forester;
For now our observation is perform'd,
And since we have the vaward of the day,(105)
My love shall hear the music of my hounds.
Uncouple in the western valley; let them go.
Dispatch, I say, and find the forester.

[Exit an Attendant]

We will, fair queen, up to the mountain's top,
And mark the musical confusion(110)
Of hounds and echo in conjunction.
I was with Hercules and Cadmus once,
When in a wood of Crete they bay'd the bear
With hounds of Sparta; never did I hear
Such gallant chiding, for, besides the groves,(115)
The skies, the fountains, every region near
Seem'd all one mutual cry. I never heard
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.
My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew'd, so sanded; and their heads are hung(120)
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee'd and dew-lapp'd like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match'd in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla'd to, nor cheer'd with horn,(125)
In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly.
Judge when you hear. But, soft, what nymphs are these?
My lord, this is my daughter here asleep,
And this Lysander, this Demetrius is,
This Helena, old Nedar's Helena.(130)
I wonder of their being here together.
No doubt they rose up early to observe
The rite of May; and, hearing our intent,
Came here in grace of our solemnity.
But speak, Egeus; is not this the day(135)
That Hermia should give answer of her choice?
It is, my lord.
Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their horns.

Horns and they wake. Shouting within, the [lovers] all start up.

Good-morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past;
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?(140)
Pardon, my lord.
I pray you all, stand up.
I know you two are rival enemies;
How comes this gentle concord in the world
That hatred is so far from jealousy(145)
To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity?
My lord, I shall reply amazedly,
Half sleep, half waking; but as yet, I swear,
I cannot truly say how I came here,
But, as I think,—for truly would I speak,(150)
And now I do bethink me, so it is,—
I came with Hermia hither. Our intent
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might,
Without the peril of the Athenian law.
Enough, enough, my Lord; you have enough;(155)
I beg the law, the law upon his head.
They would have stolen away, they would, Demetrius,
Thereby to have defeated you and me:
You of your wife, and me of my consent,
Of my consent that she should be your wife.(160)
My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
Of this their purpose hither to this wood;
And I in fury hither followed them,
Fair Helena in fancy following me.
But, my good lord, I wot not by what power,—(165)
But by some power it is,—my love to Hermia,
Melted as the snow, seems to me now
As the remembrance of an idle gaud
Which in my childhood I did dote upon;
And all the faith, the virtue of my heart,(170)
The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
Is only Helena. To her, my lord,
Was I betroth'd ere I saw Hermia.
But, like a sickness, did I loathe this food;
But, as in health, come to my natural taste,(175)
Now I do wish it, love it, long for it,
And will for evermore be true to it.
Fair lovers, you are fortunately met;
Of this discourse we more will hear anon.
Egeus, I will overbear your will;(180)
For in the temple, by and by, with us
These couples shall eternally be knit.
And, for the morning now is something worn,
Our purposed hunting shall be set aside.
Away with us to Athens, three and three;(185)
We'll hold a feast in great solemnity.
Come, Hippolyta.

Exeunt [Theseus, Hippolyta, Egeus, and train]

These things seem small and undistinguishable,
Like far-off mountains turned into clouds.
Methinks I see these things with parted eye,(190)
When every thing seems double.
So methinks;
And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,
Mine own, and not mine own.
Are you sure(195)
That we are awake? It seems to me
That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think
The Duke was here, and bid us follow him?
Yea, and my father.
And Hippolyta.(200)
And he did bid us follow to the temple.
Why, then, we are awake; let's follow him;
And by the way let us recount our dreams.


(Wakes) When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer.
My next is ‘Most fair Pyramus.’ Heigh-ho! Peter(205)
Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout, the tinker!
Starveling! God's my life, stolen hence, and left me
asleep! I have had a most rare vision. I have had a
dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.
Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this(210)
Methought I was—there is no man can tell what dream.
Methought I was, and methought I had, but man is but
a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had.
The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath
not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to(215)
conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I
will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It
shall be call'd ‘Bottom's Dream,’ because it hath no bottom;
and I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the Duke.
Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I(220)
shall sing it at her death.



  1. Bottom’s lines here are also ironic in that Shakespeare has actually succeeded in describing the events of the “dream” by writing the play itself. Bottom’s hopes that the contents of the dream can help inspire Quince’s ballad, reminds the audience of this very irony. Thus, Shakespeare highlights the way in which art can help people to comprehend an event that might be otherwise difficult to fathom. Bottom’s dream can be translated into art that is accessible for others to better understand.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. When Bottom awakens, he assumes that the entire night has been a dream, but he explains that he finds it difficult to articulate it. He says that describing the dream is “past the wit of man,” meaning that the human mind does not have the capacity to do so. He says that to successfully communicate the dream, a human would have to be “but an ass” or “a patched fool” (both of which Bottom has been.) Further, Bottom repeats the term “methought,” again underscoring that he is uncertain of his experiences and his descriptions of them. This further associates the forest with dreams and unreality that the human mind is incapable of fully comprehending and describing.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Notice here that Oberon hopes that the characters will think of their experiences in the forest merely “as the fierce vexation of a dream.” He thus associates the woods with nighttime and dreaming, and Athens with daytime and “reality.” The events that have taken place in the dark forest are to be seen as ephemeral and “unreal”—mere dreams that will not have a lasting effect on the lives of the characters. However, note that it is precisely these magical and “unreal” events that have finally untangled the actual romantic mess in the play, in a way that only something supernatural could. Shakespeare again blurs the line between reality and dreams.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Demetrius’s asking the others whether or not they are still dreaming presents an interesting opportunity for analysis. The other characters have acknowledged the dream-like nature of their experience, but Demetrius still expresses doubt. A potential explanation is that he remains under the influence of the love potion. Lysander is also under the effects, but they merely serve to keep him in love with his true love, Hermia. Demetrius’s enchantment actually works against his natural affection, potentially causing him to question his reality.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Oberon tells Puck to change Bottom’s head back to normal so that the characters can all leave the forest. Consider that the forest is associated with all things supernatural and mystical, and a return to the city thus symbolizes a return to the natural order. We can see this emphasized in Oberon’s use of the term “repair” here, suggesting the restoration of normalcy after complete disarray. Oberon’s strict contrasting of the forest and the city characterizes the events that have taken place in the woods as temporary; they will be of little significance to the rest of the characters’ lives.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. In order to demonstrate how drastically Lysander’s and Demetrius’s behaviors have changed, Shakespeare uses Theseus as an outsider to comment on the changes. Theseus expects them to be enemies, and he expresses surprise at seeing how Oberon’s plans have altered their behavior. Also, Theseus’s questions represent a good model for how anyone should question character development—drawing on past observations and comparing them to new behavior.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. When Titania asks what Bottom would like to eat, he replies that he would like oats, hay, and “provender” which is an archaic term for feed or fodder. Now that Bottom has been magically given the head of a donkey, he starts to behave like one, requesting food that a donkey would eat. Titania does not notice because the spell from the love potion has entranced her completely.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. This is another example of irony. Bottom not only thinks he needs to shave his hairy face, but he also uses the word “ass” here to refer to himself as a simple, tender fool. However, we know that an “ass” is also a word for donkey, and Bottom still has no idea that he has the head of an ass.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. This is an archaic word that means the “foremost part” or the “vanguard.” Theseus is using it to mean that they still have much of the day left to them.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. Bottom probably means to use the noun “cavalier,” rather than “Cavalery.” During Shakespeare’s time, cavalier was used as a title of address for a courtly gentlemen similar to “sir” or “master.”

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Phrases like this support a portrayal of Theseus as knowledgeable and full of answers about the natural course of events. However, there is another side to this: Such an attitude, coupled with the fact that he won his wife through conquest, reveal him to be a character who always his way and not being challenged. This also reveals his preference for single, rational explanations rather than entertaining any kind of imaginative, or supernatural, explanations.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. One of the more popular mythical Greek heroes, Hercules was renowned for his great strength and especially for performing the twelve labors imposed on him by the goddess Hera. This other mythical Greek, Cadmus, was a Phoenician prince who founded the city of Thebes. By having Hippolyta, a legendary Amazonian warrior, say that she knows them, Shakespeare further interweaves his own story with Greek mythology, building on those popular legends.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. Bottom plays the festive clown in Midsummer Night's Dream. He is a "bad actor" meaning that he is an over the top actor that is meant to make absurd the tangled love stories of the main plot. His over confidence and lack of self-awareness make his performing and Titania's love all the more comedic.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff