ACT III

ACT III — BEFORE YOU READ

Focus Activity
Think of a time when you got so involved in a play or movie that you temporarily forgot that it was not real.

Share Experiences
Talk to other classmates and share examples of experiences when a play or movie made you forget the division between illusion and reality.

Setting a Purpose
As you read, pay attention to the games Shakespeare plays with illusion and reality.

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ACT III, SCENE I
The six artisans come to the woods to practice for their play. Puck watches for a while and then puts an ass's head on Bottom and chases the others about the woods. Bottom begins to sing to prove he isn't afraid; Titania awakens and, with the magic juice on her eyelids, falls in love with Bottom disguised as an ass. She sends her fairies to find special things for Bottom to eat. Bottom is not the least bit surprised and loves the attention.

Study Questions

1.
How are the actors going to keep from scaring the ladies when Pyramus kills himself or when the lion roars?
2.
How are the actors going to manage the setting/scenery such as the moonlight and the wall?
3.
Why do the rest of the actors run off when Bottom reappears?
4.
What does Puck plan to do when he follows after the other actors?
5.
How does Bottom react to Titania and the other fairies?
6. Bottom says, "…reason and love keep little company together nowadays." Why is this such an apt statement at this point in the play?

ACT III, SCENE II
Puck tells a pleased Oberon of his trick on Bottom and of Titania's infatuation. However, when Hermia and Demetrius enter quarreling, Oberon realizes Puck has made a mistake. Puck goes to find Lysander and Helena while Oberon puts the magic juice on Demetrius's eyelids. Helena is still sure that Lysander is making fun of her. Demetrius awakens and immediately loves Helena. When he and Lysander quarrel over her, they go off to fight a duel for her. Puck leads the two young men about he forest and when they eventually fall asleep, he puts an antidote on Lysander's eyes.

Study Questions

1.
What does Hermia accuse Demetrius of doing?
2.
How are Puck and Oberon going to correct Puck's earlier mistake?
3.
Why is Helena upset when Demetrius says he loves her? Isn't this what she had wanted all along?
4.
Of what does Helena accuse Hermia?
5.
How close had Hermia and Helena been in the past?
6.
How does Lysander treat Hermia? Why can't she believe what he says?
7.
Of what does Hermia accuse Helena?
8.
Why is Helena afraid of Hermia?
9. What are Lysander and Demetrius going off to do?
10. What does Oberon tell Puck to do about the two young men?
11. What is Oberon going to do about Titania?
12. Why doesn't Oberon fear the coming of day?
13. How well does Puck's trickery work?

ACT III — AFTER READING

Personal Response
Some critics see Bottom as a fool. Others think he is wiser than he appears. What is your opinion of Bottom?

Evaluate and Connect
In act 3, what emotion does Oberon show he is capable of? How does he show this?
Think of characters from television or the movies who are tricksters like Puck. Why might audiences enjoy watching the antics of such characters?

Literature and Writing
Police Report

Imagine that you are a police officer investigating reports of strange occurrences in the woods outside Athens. You have interviewed all of the participants and are going to write a report which summarizes the various comings and goings and activities of the persons involved. Review your notes from the Focus Activity for Act 3 on the topics of illusion and reality. Then write your police report. As a police officer, you are not interested in illusion, poetic details, or complex symbolic explanations. You need to focus on reality. In your report, address who, what, when, where, and why.

Extending Your Response
Literature Groups

Some of the characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream are round characters. In other words, they undergo psychological growth as a result of their experiences. Other characters move the plot forward but do not undergo any real, inner change. These are flat characters. With your classmates, categorize the characters in the play as either round or flat. For each character, identify at least two examples from the text that support your analysis of the characterization. Then discuss the role of flat characters in a comedy.

Science Connection
Imagine that you, like the Athenian tradesmen in act 3, need to know when the next full moon will be. Check the newspaper, an almanac, or the Internet for information on the phases of the moon. Then create a chart showing what the moon will look like for each night of the coming month. Display your chart in class.

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