A Midsummer Night's Dream: Novel Summary: Act 4, Scene 1

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Titania and her train enter with Bottom, as Oberon looks on unseen. The fairies attend to Bottom's every need, and Bottom seems to enjoy every minute of it. He goes to sleep with Titania's arms around him as she declares how much she loves him.  

Puck enters, and Oberon confesses that he is beginning to pity Titania. He reveals that a short while before, he had encountered her and she had agreed to give him the changeling boy. Now that he has attained what he wants, he removes the spell cast by the love-juice by squeezing it again on Titania's eyelids. Titania awakes, and says she dreamed she was in love with an ass. Oberon tells Puck to remove the ass's head from Bottom. Oberon then calls for some music, and he and Titania dance together.  

After the Fairy King and Queen exit, leaving the lovers and Bottom still asleep, Theseus, Hippolyta and Egeus enter, and there is the sound of hunting horns. It is dawn. Theseus is looking forward to watching his hounds do their work. 

They stumble upon the four sleeping forms. Egeus wonders what they are all doing in the wood together. Theseus has no doubt of their innocent intent, and he then remembers that this is the day when Hermia must make her choice. He bids the huntsmen to wake them with their horns.  

Startled, the four wake up, and it is Helena who is the first to offer an explanation of why they are there, even though she is not sure herself. But Egeus does not let her finish. He angrily jumps to the conclusion (correct, as it happens) that Lysander and Hermia were trying to elope so that she would not have to marry Demetrius. He tries to incite Demetrius to anger over the deception. But Demetrius simply says that he no longer loves Hermia, but now loves Helena. He points out that he was in love with Helena first, before he ever met Hermia, and how he is reverting to his original choice.  

The genial Theseus overrules Egeus and gives the two couples permission to marry. Theseus, Hippolyta and Egeus make their way back to Athens. The two couples are puzzled about what has happened and decide that they must have been dreaming. They also return to Athens. 

Bottom awakens and finds himself alone, without his fellow-actors. He declares that he has had a strange dream that no man could explain. He decides to get Peter Quince to write a ballad about it, to be called Bottom's Dream.  

Analysis

As the blocking figure, Egeus still tries to obstruct the happy ending. But the time has come for the plot to be resolved according to the formula of romantic comedy, so he has no success.  

The theme of the relationship between dreams and reality (or illusion and reality) is prominent here. All the characters who have had unusual and baffling experiences in the wood dismiss all the events there as a dream. This includes the four lovers, as well as Bottom and Titania. But were the lovers really dreaming, or were they being opened up to some aspect of reality that was closed to them in the rational, day-to-day world they usually inhabit?  

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