The Duke of Athens, Theseus, prepares himself to marry Hippolyta, the Amazon queen. There is to be a four day festival and celebration. He asks Philostrate, the Master of Revels, to source for suitable entertainment for the event. Athenian nobleman, Egeus, enters the court of Theseus, along with his daughter Hermia, Demetruis and Lysander. It is the wish of Egeus that Hermia wed Demetrius, however, Hermia is in love with Lysander and refuses to marry Demetruis. Theseus cautions Hermia that she must comply with her father’s wishes of face being sent to a convent or murdered. Regardless, Hermia and Lysander plan to flee Athens the very next night and wed in the home of Lysander’s aunt. The young lovers disclose their plans to Hermia’s friend, Helena. Helena had been previously engaged to Demetrius, however, he left her after meeting Hermia.
Though Athens, I am thought as fair as she. But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so. He will not know what all but he do know. As he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes, So I, admiring of his qualities. Things base and vile, holding no quantity, love can transpose to form and dignity. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
These are the words that Helena mutters as she attempts to convey the irrational nature of love. She is extremely distraught by the realization that her lover, Demetrius, does not love her anymore. He has fallen for Hermia and is no longer able to see her beauty. Helena insists that she is just as beautiful as Hernia and proclaims that she dotes on Demetrius just as Demetrius dotes on Hermia. Helena claims that she is able to look past the less than desirable qualities of Demetrius because love is blind.
In a bid to win back her love, she tells Demetrius of what Lysander and Hermia have planned. The next evening, Demetrius follows his bride to be and her love, with Helena not very far behind him.
Also in the woods there are two different character groups. There are the fairy King, Oberon, and Titania, his Queen, who have arrived from India to bless the marriage of Hippolyta and Theseus, and a group of Athenian craftsmen who are rehearsing a play that they wish to perform at the wedding. Oberon and his wife are arguing over an Indian prince that had been given to them by his mother. The young prince is so beautiful that Oberon wishes to make him a knight, but Titania refuses. Out for revenge, Oberon instructs his servant, Puck, to find a magical flower that will cause someone to fall in love with the first person they see. Puck finds the flower and spreads the juices over Tatania’s eyelids. Having witnessed Demetrius act poorly towards Helena, he instructs Puck to spread more juice across the eyelids of the Athenian man. Puck crosses paths with Lysander and Hermia, mistaking Lysander for the man that Oberon was speaking about, he covers him with the potion. Upon waking, Lysander gazes upon Helena and falls deeply in love with her – leaving Hermia. As the night goes on, Puck tries to correct his wrongdoing, however, both Lysander and Demetrius end up in love with Helena, this causes her to feel that they are making fun of her. Hermia is so overcome by jealousy that she challenges her friend to a fight. The men nearly fight over the love of Helena. However, Puck manages to confuse them by mimicking their voices and leading them away from each other.
Upon awaking, the very first creature that Titania lays eyes upon is Bottom – the most loathed and ridiculous Athenian craftsman. Puck has recently transformed Bottom’s head into that of a donkey. TItania begins to dote upon the ridiculous donkey faced man. Soon, Oberon is able to obtain the Indian prince; after this, Puck covers Lysander’s eyelids with the love potion, and all is right again. Theseus and Hippolyta find the sleeping lovers deep in the forest and escort them back to Athens in order to be wed. Demetrius is now in love with Helena and Lysander is now in love with Hermia. After the group is wed, the lovers look on as Bottom and his group of fellow craftsmen perform their play and entertain the crowd. They are acting out a funny and fumbling account of the story of Thisbe and Pyramus. As soon as the play has concluded, each of the newlyweds retire to their quarters. Under the cloak of night, the fairies emerge, blessing each one of the sleeping couples with a magical charm designed to protect them and bring them good luck. All of the fairies, with the exception of Puck disappear. Remaining, Puck asks of the audience that they forgive him and insist that the whole thing had been a dream. Another character, Bottom, had also referred to the entire debacle as having been a dream.
I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of a man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about t’expound this dream. Methought I was – there is no man can tell what. Methough I was, and methough I had – but a man is 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 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 called ‘Bottom’s Dream’. Because it hath no bottom.”