“Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be”
— William Shakespeare
To my thinking, it would not be midsummer without a nocturnal visit from Puck, Titania, Oberon, Peas-Blossom, Cobweb and the gang. These are, of course, Shakespeare’s notorious fairies who haunt and bewitch four young lovers that find themselves lost in the forest outside Athens on midsummer night.
To be fair, the humans are the ones who create the mess in the first place.
Helena is in love with Demetrius, but Demetrius is in love with Hermia. Hermia, in turn, cannot stand Demetrius, but instead loves Lysander. Hermia’s father forbids her to marry Lysander and insists she marry Demetrius. Poor Helena is left with no one. That is, until Puck and his fairies use some magic potions to mix up everyone’s affections, resulting in extreme chaos.
“Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand;
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover’s fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
In the meantime, fairy King Oberon is arguing with his wife Titania, and decides to trick her with the same magic potion, thus causing her to fall in love with Bottom. Bottom is a human who has, for midsummer night, been changed into a donkey. Titania does not seem to mind.
“Out of this wood do not desire to go:
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.
And I do love thee: therefore, go with me;
I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee.”
Shakespeare reveals the simple, painful truth: Love is unfair. It is also confusing, nonsensical, often forced upon us and taken from us. Not to mention absurd, improbable and given to bestiality.
Consider yourself warned. If you wander into the woods tonight be very careful… Puck is waiting
First written in around 1595, this play has been interpreted in many forms including film productions, television, music, art, literature and ballet.
If you are looking for some midsummer entertainment, I hope you’ll like this magical rendition, called ‘The Dream’. It was first presented in 2014 by the American Ballet Theatre. Music is by Felix Mendelssohn, choreography by Frederick Ashton. Running time is about one hour.
“Cupid is a knavish lad,
Thus to make poor females mad.
Trip away; make no stay
Meet me all by break of day.”
Source: Midsummer Night’s Dream