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Hermia and Helena compare notes and wonder at the perversity of their respective lovers. Hermia says:
"The more I hate Demetrius, the more he follows me,"
And Helena says:
"The more I love him, the more he hatheth me!” Hermia still sighing for Lysander says:
"Before the time I did Lysander see,
Seemed Athens as a paradise to me;
Helena soliloquizes regarding the inconsistency of Demetrius since he saw Hermia:
"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
A number of rude workingmen of Athens propose to give an impromptu play in the Duke's palace in honor of his wedding.
It is a burlesque on all plays, and being so very crude and bad, is good by contrast!
Pyramus and Thisby are the prince and princess, who die for love.
Bottom is to play the big blower in the improvised drama and the Jackass among the fairies. He says:
"I could play a part to tear a cat in, to make all split"
"The raging rocks,
Of prison gates;
Puck, the mischievous Robin Goodfellow, who is ever playing pranks among his fairy tribe and human lovers, enters the forest scene and addresses one of the fairies thus:
"How now, spirit, whither wander you?”
"Over hill, over dale,
Through bush, through brier,
Over park, over pale,
Through flood, through fire,
Farewell, thou wit of spirits, I'll be gone; Our queen and all her elves come here anon."
Puck, the funny tattler, tells of the jealousy of King Oberon, because Titania has adopted a lovely boy :
"For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king,
This sly cut at Queen Elizabeth, who had recently adopted a young American Indian as her parlor page, elicited applause among the courtiers, yet "Lizzie" did not seem to join in the cheers! Oberon and Titania meet and quarrel, just as natural as if they belonged to earthly passion people.
"Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania!
"Tarry, rash woman; am I not thy lord?” Titania:
"Then I must be thy lady?"
Oberon accuses Titania with being in love with Theseus and assisting him in the ravishment of antique beauties.
"These are the forgeries of jealousy; Never met we on hill, dale, forest or mead; Or on the beached margent of the sea To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind, But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport!"
After the departure of Queen Titania and her fairy train, King Oberon calls in Puck to aid in punishing her imagined infidelity.
"My gentle Puck, come hither; thou remember'st Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
"That very time I saw, but thou could'st not,
In maiden meditation, fancy free!
Before milk white; now purple with love's wound
And maidens call it love in idleness.'
Fetch me that flower; the herb I showed thee
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid,
"I'll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes!"
The audience saw by this time that the "Vestal" and "Imperial Voteress" in "maiden meditation, fancy free" was none other than Queen Elizabeth, and therefore three cheers and a roaring lion were given for the delicate and eloquent compliment of Shakspere to her Virgin Majesty!
Tributes to the powerful, though undeserved, are received with spontaneous applause, while just praise for the poor receive no echo from the jealous throng. Poor, toadying humanity!
The infatuated Helena follows Demetrius into the dark forest, and though he tells her that he does not and cannot love her, she says:
"And even for that, do I love you the more; I am your spaniel; and Demetrius