A midsummer Nights Dream

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william shakespeare-a midsummer nights dream
vijita fernando-missiya the wild one


Love and the Law

The  Duke  of  Athens  was  called  Theseus.  He  was  very  happy  because  he

had fallen in love with Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. They were going

to be married in four days' time, and Theseus was impatient for the wedding day

to arrive.

'If  only  these  four  days  were  over!'  he  said  to  Hippolyta.  'Then  our

happiness would begin.'

'They  will  soon  pass,'  she  told  him  tenderly.  'Four  days  are  nothing.  Be

patient, Theseus.'

Theseus wanted the whole of Athens to celebrate his wedding, and he gave

very clear instructions to Philostrate, his master of revels.

'Make sure that everyone enjoys himself,' Theseus ordered. 'Organise some

wonderful entertainment for the people of the city. My wedding must be a happy

and memorable event for Athens. I want the whole of Athens to take part in this

great day, and to share my happiness with me.'

As  Theseus  was  giving  these  orders,  four  people  approached  the  Duke.

One of them was an old man, Egeus. He greeted Theseus politely:

'I wish you long happiness, sir!'

Theseus smiled at Egeus. 'Thank you. Egeus. How are things with you, my


Egeus looked serious for a moment, and then he answered the Duke.

'To tell you the truth, things are not going well for me. Theseus,' he began.

'In  fact  I  have  come  to  you  to  help  me  resolve  a  problem.  It  concerns  these

young people with me.'

He pointed to the three young people who were standing beside him. There

were  two  young  men  and  a  girl.  The  girl  looked  angry  and  defiant,  and  the

young men were glaring at each other angrily.

'The problem is this,' Egeus told Theseus. 'Demetrius was going to marry

my daughter here, Hermia. Everything was arranged between our two families. I

approved of the marriage, and so did Demetrius's father.'

Demetrius nodded his head in agreement with Egeus.

'That's quite right, sir. Everything was arranged.'

'But then Lysander interfered with everything,' Egeus complained.

He turned to the other young man who was standing beside him.

'Don't argue now, young fellow, you know you interfered!' he said angrily.

'You brought Hermia presents, you wrote her poetry, you sang songs outside her

window.  You  did  everything  you  could  to  make  her  fall  in  love  with  you.  And

now she refuses to obey me - she says she won't marry Demetrius!'

Egeus  frowned  at  Lysander.  The  young  man  looked  back  at  him.  He  did

not seem afraid. Then Hermia's father spoke to Theseus again.

'I have come to you sir.' he said, 'to ask for justice. Hermia has refused to

obey  me.  If  she  won't  marry  Demetrius,  she  should  die.  That  is  the  law  of

Athens, as you know. Hermia belongs to me, and if she won't do what I tell her,

she should die.'

Theseus  thought  hard  for  a  moment.  He  did  not  approve  of  children  who

disobeyed their parents. Then he turned to Hermia.

'What have you got to say?' he asked. Then he raised a finger in warning.

'Before you reply.' he said sternly. 'you should remember one thing. Your father

made  you  -  he  has  the  right  to  destroy  you  if  he  chooses.  Demetrius  is

undoubtedly  a  good  man  and  he  would  make  a  good  husband  for  you.  You

should accept him if that is what your father wishes.'

Hermia  blushed.  It  was  difficult  to  tell  if  she  was  embarrassed  or  very

angry. Then she decided to speak. She spoke in a very determined way.

'Lysander is also a good man,' she told the Duke, 'and Lysander is the man

I love. I will never marry against my will.'

Theseus  was  angry  at  the  girl's  reply.  He  asked  Hermia  to  think  very

carefully  about  what  she  would  do.  He  told  her  that  if  she  refused  to  obey  her

father she would be severely punished. She would either have to die, or to spend

the rest of her life in a convent.

'Very well, my Lord,' replied Hermia. 'I will die or I will go to a convent

for the rest of my life. But one thing is certain - I will never marry Demetrius!'

This  reply  annoyed  Theseus,  but  he  was  determined  to  give  Hermia  a

chance to change her mind.

'Don't decide now,' Theseus told her. 'I will give you four days to make up

your  mind.  But  this  I  promise  you.  On  the  day  of  my  own  wedding,  you  will

either die or go to a convent, or you will marry Demetrius.'

Lysander now began to argue with Egeus.

'Why are you so opposed to my love for Hermia?' he wanted to know. 'I am

as good a man as Demetrius. I come from a noble family, as he does. I am rich,

as  he  is.  I  love  your  daughter.  Why  don't  you  allow  us  to  marry?  Besides,

Demetrius used to be in love with Helena. He made her fall in love with him. He

broke her heart. He should marry Helena, not Hermia.'

Demetrius looked angrily at Lysander. It was true that he had been in love

with  Helena,  and  that  he  had  treated  her  very  badly.  He  knew  it,  and  he  was

ashamed of his past behaviour. But now he was in love with Hermia, and he was

determined to marry her.

'Enough!'  Theseus  said  to  Lysander.  'I  have  given  my  judgment.  Hermia

has four days to think about the matter.'

Egeus  thanked  Theseus  for  his  judgement  -  in  the  case.  He  was  sure  that

Hermia  would  choose  to  marry  Demetrius,  rather  than  face  the  penalty  of


'And  now,  my  old  friend,'  said  Theseus  to  Egeus,  'I  want  to  speak  to  you

and Demetrius privately.'

'With pleasure, sir,' Egeus said.

'Certainly, sir!' Demetrius said.

'Come  with  me,  and  we'll  discuss  this  matter  together,'  Theseus


Theseus,  Egeus  and  Demetrius  went  off  together,  leaving  Hermia  and

Lysander  alone.  They  were  very  sad  at  the  punishment  that  faced  Hermia,  and

they  thought  that  Theseus  was  unjust.  They  did  not  know  what  to  do.  Then

Lysander  had  an  idea.  He  had  an  aunt  who  lived  some  distance  away  from

Athens. They could go there and marry. The law of Athens could not touch them


'If you really love me.' he told Hermia, 'you'll run away with me. I'll wait

for  you  tomorrow  night,  in  the  wood  near  Athens.  Then  we'll  go  to  my  aunt's

house. What do you think of the plan?'

Hermia promised that she would meet Lysander in the wood.

As  the  lovers  were  making  their  plan  to  escape  from  Athens,  they  were

joined by Helena. Helena was very unhappy because she loved Demetrius.

'Why does Demetrius love you?' she asked Hermia with a sigh. 'What have

you done to make him fall in love with you, when he loved me before?'

Hermia smiled at her friend.

'I'll tell you what I do.' she said. 'I ignore him - but he still loves me. I am

rude to him - but he still loves me. The more I hate him, the more he loves me.'

Then  Hermia  told  Helena  what  Theseus  had  said  to  her.  Helena  felt  very

sorry that her friend was in danger of such a severe punishment.

'Lysander and I are going to run away from Athens,' Hermia explained to

her friend.

Helena  thought  about  the  lovers'  plan  to  escape  to  the  wood.  Then  she

made a plan of her own.

'I'll tell Demetrius what Lysander and Hermia are going to do,' she decided.

'He's  sure  to  follow  Hermia  into  the  wood.  Perhaps  he'll  thank  me  for  bringing

him the news.'

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