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A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our High School ELA Category!

A Midsummer Night's Dream Lesson Plans

Student Activities for A Midsummer Night's Dream Include:

Despite being one of Shakespeare's most popular works, A Midsummer Night's Dream can be a tough play to follow. It contains four plots, and as Puck's work unfolds, things can get a little strange. With this teacher guide, watch your students master this comedy and become pros with Shakespeare!

A Midsummer Night's Dream Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Five-Act Structure Graphic Organizer


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Students can create and show a storyboard that captures the concept of a Five Act Structure by making a six cell storyboard, like the one below. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the acts in order: Prologue, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.



Example A Midsummer Night’s Dream Five Act Structure

Act 1: Exposition or Prologue

The first cell contains the characters, period, setting, and background. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the exposition begins with a short speech by the Duke of Athens who is going to be married to the Queen of the Amazons.

Theseus says:

Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour draws on apace. Four happy days bring in another moon. But oh, methinks how slow this old moon wanes! She lingers my desires, like to a stepdame or a dowager long withering out a young man’s revenue.

William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream

Act 1: Conflict

A love triangle: Hermia loves Lysander, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius, who is in love with her. Helena, Hermia’s friend, loves Demetrius, and the four end up running into the woods either with or after their respective love interests.


Act 2: Rising Action

Despite the faeries having their own plot, Puck tries to solve the humans' love triangle, but accidentally causes Lysander to fall in love with Helena. Then, while attempting to fix this, he makes Demetrius fall for Helena, too. Now everyone loves Helena, and no one loves Hermia.


Act 3: Climax

Everyone is lost in the woods and are fighting with each other. Puck gathers them together and reverses the spell on Lysander. In the morning, they wake up, and everyone is in love with the right person.


Act 4: Falling Action

The Duke, while riding in the forest, comes upon the lovers. After hearing their story, he invites them to be married during his wedding ceremony. Meanwhile, Queen Titania of the Fairies, who was enchanted to fall in love with a donkey-headed mortal, has her love spell reversed too.


Act 5: Denouement

In the end, all is well. The play about Pyramus and Thisbe is performed, and Puck ends the play by asking the audience to remember it all as if it were a dream!


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


  1. Separate the play into the Prologue/Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the acts.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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A Midsummer Night’s Dream Themes, Symbols, and Motifs


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Valuable aspects of any literary work are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to analyze without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich symbolism that William Shakespeare uses throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream Themes to Look for and Discuss

Love

Throughout the play, the actions of impetuous lovers create continuous conflict. The tangle of affections that has left out Hermia shows that love is often difficult and unbalanced. When the theme is carefully examined, the reader can see there are multiple types of love working throughout the play. However, the underlying message is that love is not always perfect or reciprocated.


Magic

Magic, wishes, or attempts to avoid fate often fail or need reversal. Whether this is is frowned upon, or simply futile, messing with something that has already been determined is rarely a good idea. In this play, Puck causes a mess that inevitably needs fixing when he uses the magic flower to play Cupid.


Dreams

Dreams are curious and bizarre. Perhaps why Shakespeare employed them so often. They can be used to explain desires, but they can also be ambiguous; dreams can create feelings and desires that can be either wonderful, or terrifying. Moreover, they prove how we are not in control and add a dimension of illusion to any situation.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream Motifs and Imagery

Theseus and Hippolyta

The sub-plot of the Duke and his Amazon Queen suggests rationality and reality. Unlike the dream state that much of A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes place in, Theseus and Hippolyta are the only ones who seem to be in control during this entire charade.


Love Potion

In the play, the love potion causes most of the mischief and represents the fickle nature of love. We can fall in and out of love just as quick as the drink can make us love and then take love away.


Pyramus and Thisbe

This play within a play is highly ironic. The play about Pyramus and Thisbe contains many of the same elements as A Midsummer Night’s Dream!


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify the theme(s) from A Midsummer Night's Dream you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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A Midsummer Night’s Dream Characters


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As students read, a storyboard can serves as a helpful character reference log. This log, also called a character map, allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a play, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With a character map, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!

Using a character map for Shakespeare is even more beneficial. It also allows students to record nuances of characters and identify dramatic foils. The ability to visually see contrasts helps students with understanding, and assists in reviewing.

You can click on this map and create a copy on your teacher account. Feel free to use it as is, or to edit it for the level of your class. Printing it as worksheets, for your students to complete while reading, is a fast and easy way to incorporate this character map into your classroom.

For A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it is important to focus on each of the character's particular love interests and motivations. When Puck creates a love triangle, it further confuses the already complicated situation. Look at the character map below, and take notice of the particular pairings.

Example:


Puck (Robin Goodfellow)

Traits:
Fairy, Trickster


View of Love:
What's that?


Quote about Dreams:
"If you were offended, think of this play as a dream... "


What conflict does this character cause?
Mischief, thy name is Puck! He causes Titania to fall in love with Bottom, and both Lysander and Demetrius to fall in love with Helena.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.


  1. Identify the major characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a character from the "Classical Era", "Monsters and Myths", or "Greek Mythology" tabs to represent each of the literary characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in the Textables for Traits, View of Love, Quote About Dreams, and What conflict does this character cause?.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Shakespearean Vocabulary


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Another great way to engage your students is with a storyboard that uses Shakespearean vocabulary. Many students struggle with the meaning of commonly used Shakespearean terms; getting them to use them in context before reading is an excellent way to cultivate the comprehension of vocabulary. In the example below, students were asked to create storyboards that use familiar Shakespearean terms.

In a Shakespearean vocabulary board, students can use the words in a sentence they create, or they can pick a phrase from the play. In the example storyboard, the student has chosen to create their sentences for their words:

  • Marry - Indeed:

    "Then they asked me if that was the word of the Prince, and I replied, 'It was marry!'"

  • Pray - To hope:

    I pray the nurse comes quickly with good news!

  • Sauce - Sassy:

    The saucy porter wouldn't let me in without a password.

  • Thou - You (used for one person who is the subject of a sentence):

    If thou hast a cold come see me... the friendly apothecary!

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a spider map storyboard for Shakespearean vocabulary words and phrases.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify unfamiliar words or phrases that Shakespeare uses.
  3. Type each into the title boxes.
  4. Briefly describe the meaning of the word in the description box.
  5. Create a standalone comic in each cell that has the word in a sentence in a speech or thought bubble.
  6. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Depicting Literary Conflict in A Midsummer Night’s Dream


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Literary conflicts are often taught during ELA units. Building on prior knowledge to achieve mastery level with our students is important. An excellent way to focus on the various types of literary conflict is through storyboarding. Having students choose an example of each literary conflict and depict it using the Storyboard Creator is a great way to reinforce your lesson!

Conflict between the A Midsummer Night’s Dream characters is an important recurring element. Much of the conflict that arises from the mismatched affections of the young Athenians, and from Puck's attempts to remedy the situation.


Examples of Conflict in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

MAN vs. SELF

In the beginning, Helena betrays her friend Hermia when she tells Demetrius that Hermia has run off with Lysander. Helena betrays her friend just to get closer to Demetrius, with whom she is in love, even though he does not reciprocate these feelings.


MAN vs. NATURE

Puck, as a faerie, and the Flower of Love, can both be seen as representing nature. Puck's mischief, and the fickle nature of love cause endless confusion among the mortals as they are controlled by the power of love.


MAN vs. MAN

Once Puck tries to "rectify" the situation, and both men to fall in love with Helena, the young Athenians are set against each other by jealousy. Hermia becomes livid with Helena for "taking" both of the men. Demetrius and Lysander are driven to the point of dueling over Helena.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows at least three forms of literary conflict in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


  1. Identify conflicts in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  2. Categorize each conflict as Character vs. Character, Character vs. Self, Character vs. Society, Character vs. Nature, or Character vs. Technology.
  3. Illustrate conflicts in the cells, using characters from the story.
  4. Write a short description of the conflict below the cell.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Shakespearean Comedies Student Activity

Shakespearean comedies usually contain elements such as irony, word play, and metaphors. Comedies also contain elements of love or lust, with obstacles that the lovers must overcome throughout the play. Mistaken identities are often used in both intentional and unintentional ways for comic relief. Additionally, a staple of the Shakespearean comedy is ending in a reunion or marriage(s). Finally, comedies contain complicated plots with twists that often keep the audience guessing what will happen next.

Having students create storyboards that depict the elements of this genre will help them to understand the comedy behind the play. It will also help them follow the multiple plots and interweaving of characters, while bringing the genre to life!


    When I did him at this advantage take, an ass’s noll I fixed on his head. Anon his Thisbe must be answered, and forth my [mimic] comes. When they him spy, as wild geese that the creeping fowler eye, or russet-pated choughs, many in sort, rising and cawing at the gun’s report, sever themselves and madly sweep the sky, so at his sight away his fellows fly, and, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls.

    Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream

Comedic Elements of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Love Obstacles Hermia's father tells her she must be with Demetrius even though she loves Lysander!
Mistaken Identities Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, and Titania mistakes Bottom for a person (even though he looks like a donkey)
Plot Twists Hermia and Helena are split by jealousy. The men want to fight over someone neither of them loves. Titania is fooled by her own kind. But, it all works out in the end.
Marriage or Reunion In the end, Helena marries Demetrius, Hermia marries Lysander, and the Duke marries Hippolyta.


Using a template, students can quickly come up with their interpretations and create amazing storyboards that look like this:

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Essential Questions for A Midsummer Night's Dream

  1. What are the different types of love? Could you list them?
  2. Would you go against your family to follow your heart?
  3. What are the qualities that make a good friend?
  4. Consider illusions and reality.
    • What do we need to see with our own eyes to believe, and what do we believe without seeing?
    • What do we see, but not believe?
    • How does this translate to our actions when we are in love?
    • We cannot touch love, or taste love, or even see love; how does the illusion of love create our reality?

A Midsummer Night's Dream Summary

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare is a fanciful comedy centered around Puck (also called Robin Goodfellow), a magical fairy-like creature. The play begins with the Duke of Athens preparing to wed the Queen of the Amazons. During preparations for the festival, two young men, Demetrius, and Lysander meet a young nobleman’s daughter, Hermia. Both men fall in love with her, but her father only gives her permission to marry Demetrius. However, it is Lysander that Hermia loves. She makes plans to run away with Lysander and tells her best friend, Helena. Unbeknownst to Hermia, Helena is in love with Demetrius, and plans to tell him in hopes of winning him over.

Meanwhile, Puck is sent on a quest by Oberon, King of the Fairies, to find a magical Cupid-like flower so that he can punish Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, and force her to give him a changeling for his servant. When the flower is sprinkled on a sleeping person's eyelids, they will fall desperately in love with the first thing they see when they wake up. Puck uses the flower on Titania, who wakes up to see a hapless basket-weaver and actor, Bottom, whose face has been turned into that of a donkey. Due to the mischievous nature of fairies, issues again arise when Puck tries to intervene with the predicaments of Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander, who have all run away to the forest. After sprinkling dust in each of the men's eyes, they both fall in love with Helena, forgetting Hermia. This creates intense jealousy between the women, and renewed rivalry between the men, who challenge each other to a fight in order to win Helena.

After some time, Puck is forced to fix his mistakes. However, while rectifying things, Demetrius truly falls in love with Helena. At this time, the Duke of Athens arrives, finding the lovers in the woods, and is told the story. He insists that they are all wed during his wedding ceremony. After the wedding, Bottom's troupe performs a comical version of a play, Pyramus and Thisbe. In the end, only Puck remains on stage. He begs the audiences' forgiveness for his embarrassing mistakes, and prays everyone remembers the play as if it were only a dream.


Don’t Let the Fun Stop! Check Out Our Other Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. This play actually contains FOUR plots! Track what the plots are, and when they intersect. Storyboard these four plots and track how they come together.
  2. Depict 50 lines from a scene as a storyboard.
  3. Create an alternate ending to the play with a storyboard that shows and tells the story from a different perspective.
  4. In a group, read about Pyramus and Thisbe, or the story of Theseus, and create storyboards to present to the class that demonstrate an understanding of the references to these stories in the play.
  5. Visually depict a major soliloquy or monologue from the play.
  6. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.


This is a unique tale that blends humor, fantasy, and romance into one enthralling play. Written by Shakespeare around 1595, the play has become a favorite of many actors and lovers of theater. It features devious fairies, young people in love, and a play within a play.

  • Artist Favorite: The dramatic atmosphere and fantastical elements make this a fun piece to storyboard. The scenes are mystical and fun, and the characters are expressive!
  • Pro-Tip: Use special effects by adding glitter, fire, and light to give an ethereal glow to your scenes.

Key Search Terms: Shakespeare, Greek, fire, glow, and wall.



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•   (English) A Midsummer Night's Dream   •   (Español) Sueño de una Noche de Verano   •   (Français) Le Rêve D'une Nuit D'été   •   (Deutsch) Ein Sommernachtstraum   •   (Italiana) Sogno di una Notte di Mezza Estate   •   (Nederlands) Een Midzomernachtdroom   •   (Português) Sonho de uma Noite de Verão   •   (עברית) חלום ליל קיץ   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) حلم ليلة في منتصف الصيف   •   (हिन्दी) अ मिडसमर नाइट्स ड्रीम   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Сон в Летнюю Ночь   •   (Dansk) En Skærsommernatsdrøm   •   (Svenska) En Midsommarnattsdröm   •   (Suomi) Juhannusyön Unelma   •   (Norsk) En Midtsommernatts Drøm   •   (Türkçe) Bir yaz Gecesi Rüyası   •   (Polski) Sen Nocy Letniej   •   (Româna) Visul Unei Nopți de Vară   •   (Ceština) Sen Noci Svatojánské   •   (Slovenský) Sen Noci Svätojánskej   •   (Magyar) Szentivánéji Álom   •   (Hrvatski) San Ivanjske Noći   •   (български) Една Мечта за Лятна нощ   •   (Lietuvos) Vidurvasario Nakties Sapnas   •   (Slovenščina) Sen Kresne Noči   •   (Latvijas) Sapnis Vasaras Naktī   •   (eesti) Suveöö Unenägu