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Egeus wants Hermia to marry Demetrius but Hermia refuses, because she's in love with Lysander. The Duke orders Hermia to obey her father or, according to Athenian law, she must face a death penalty or enter a convent
Hermia and Lysander decide to elope that night.They confide in their friend Helena. However, she's secretly in love with Demetrius so, hoping to win his affection, she tells him of Hermia's plan. That night, all four lovers set out into the forest.
Meanwhile, a group of Athenian tradesmen (knownas the Mechanicals), led by Peter Quince, are planning to perform a play incelebration of the Duke's wedding. They rehearse The Tragedy of Pyramus andThisbe in the same forest.
Elsewhere in the forest, the fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania, argue over Titania's refusal to give up her page-boy to Oberon. The juice of a plant, when squeezed onto the eyes of someone asleep, causes them to fall in love with the first creature they see when they wake up. Oberon sends Puck to use the juice on Titania as she sleeps in her bower.
Puck overhears the tradesmen rehearsing andmagically transforms Bottom's head into that of an ass. The other men areterrifed and flee the forest. When Titania wakes, the first creature she seesis Bottom and she falls rapturously in love with him.
Helena chases Demetrius in the forest and their fighting disturbs Oberon. He tells Puck to use the magic plant on Demetriustoo, so that he will fall in love with Helena. However Puck muddles up the two Athenian men and uses it on Lysander instead, who promptly falls in love withHelena. Both women are confused and Hermia furiously attacks her friend.
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