A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Summary and Analysis of Act 4

Act Four, Scene One

Titania and Bottom, still with an asses head, enter the stage followed by Titania's fairies. Bottom asks the fairies to scratch his head, and is hungry for some hay. Titania, completely in love with him, orders the fairies to find him food. Together they soon fall asleep.

Oberon enters and looks at his sleeping Queen. He tells the puck that Titania gave him her young boy earlier in the woods, and so it is time for him to remove the spell from her eyes. He orders Robin to change Bottom back to normal, but first he wakes up Titania. She at first thinks she dreamed about being in love with an ass, but then sees Bottom still asleep by her side. Oberon helps her off the ground and tells her that tomorrow they will dance at the weddings of Theseus and the other two couples.

Theseus, Hippolyta and Egeus arrive where the lovers are sleeping. They are in the woods to celebrate the May morning with hunting hounds in preparation of the day's ceremonies. Theseus sees the lovers and has them woken by sounding the hunting horns.

The lovers tell Theseus what they remember from the night before, and Lysander declares his love for Hermia while Demetrius speaks of his love for Helena. Theseus decides to override Egeus' will and have all three of them get married in Athens that day. They eventually all depart for Athens.

Bottom wakes up and realizes that he has been abandoned in the woods by his friends. He recalls what happened to him only as a dream, a dream about which he says, "I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called 'Bottom's Dream' (4.1.208). Bottom then returns to Athens.

Act Four, Scene Two

The artisans are lamenting the fact that the Duke Theseus is already married, as well as the other noblemen, which means they missed their chance to perform Pyramus and Thisbe at the wedding. Bottom finally arrives and tells the men to hurry to the festivities since there is still enough time to perform the play.


The transition of reality into only a dream emerges a second time in Act Four. Oberon tells Titania that Bottom will "think no more of this night's accidents / But as the fierce vexation of a dream" (4.1.65-6). Indeed, this is exactly what happens: "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" (4.1.205-207).

It is the way that Bottom deals with his nightmare of a dream that is important and interesting. Not only is he not afraid of it, but he wants to turn it into a ballad. Turning a fearful nightmare into a fun song is crucial to understanding what Shakespeare has done with A Midsummer Night's Dream. This play is the Romeo and Juliet theme woven into a play, taking the sad tragedy and converting it into comedy. Thus Shakespeare is making a further comment about the nature of plays and acting, showing them to be a medium by which our worst fears can be dissipated into hilarity.

The nature of doubling emerges once again in this act, but for the last time. Hermia remarks that, "Methinks I see these things with parted eye, / When everything seems double" (4.1.186-7). This comment occurs right after Theseus has overridden Egeus' desires and agreed to let Hermia and Lysander get married. Hermia is correct about the fact that this is a doubling of marriages. In spite of escaping from the confusion of the forest, there is still a lingering uncertainty about whether Lysander and Demetrius have been able to distinguish between Helena and Hermia. The effect of having a double wedding merely makes the newfound differences more vague, making Hermia wonder if things still are in fact double.