A Midsummer Nights Dream

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  • Narrator

    Long ago in the city of Athens, there was a cruel law that gave a father the power to choose his daughter’s husband–and if the daughter refused, she could be put to death.

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  • This law was so cruel that no one could remember it ever being enforced.

  • But one day, a cranky old man named Egeus came running to the court of the leader of Athens, Duke Theseus.

  • Egeus dragged behind him his daughter, Hermia.

  • And closely behind followed two young men, Lysander and Demetrius.

  • Both wanted to marry Hermia.

  • Hermia, however, wanted to marry Lysander.

  • But her father demanded that she marry Demetrius.

  • Bowing to Duke Theseus, old Egeus cried out,

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    “Full of vexation come I, with complaint against my child, my daughter Hermia.

  • I have chosen Demetrius to be Hermia’s husband.

  • But Lysander has stolen her affection.

  • If she will not obey me and marry Demetrius, then I claim the law of Athens against my daughter!

  • She must go to Demetrius in marriage, or to her death!”

  • Narrator

    As Duke Theseus heard these angry claims, he pressed the hand of the tall woman standing by his side, the warrior queen Hippolyta.

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  • Theseus and Hippolyta were preparing to be married in a few days.

  • The duke wished that Egeus would just go away, but he knew that he had to deal with the matter.

  • And he also knew that he could not ignore the old law.

  • Profile Picture of Theseus in A Midsummer Nights Dream


    “What say you, Hermia?”