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TOPIC: Act 4 Plot summary

Act 4 Plot summary 11 years 1 month ago #194

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An excited group of young fairies rush in and prepare a soft bed amongst the flowers.

Titania, still doting, leads in Bottom on a chain of meadow flowers - enslaving him more strongly than any chain of steel. Another flower-chain weaves a rough crown between his long Ass ears.

She gently forces him to sit, and starts to add sweet smelling roses to his rough country crown.

Bottom asks some of the fairies to scratch his head – still not really understanding what has happened to him or why he feels so ‘hairy’.

The Queen orders music, which gently fills the air, and asks her new plaything what he would like to eat. After humming and he hawing, he declines food and sinks gently into Titania’s arms, and the profoundest of sleeps.

Titania, with a deep sigh, soon follows him into the land of sweet dreams and delusions.

Oberon, who has been watching all this carefully, looks sadly at his wife, and when Puck appears beside him, explains he no longer finds this funny. He has got what he wanted – she gave the boy to him without a second thought – and now wants his Queen to rejoin him in clear-sighted harmony.

After telling Puck to remove Bottom’s Ass head, Oberon releases Titania from the charm.

As she wakes, she falls into Oberon’s arms and tells him of a dream, a nightmare she had had – she had been in love with an Ass!

Oberon shows her Bottom lying alone on the bank of flowers, a sad sight. Puck now peels off the false head and Bottom is once again himself.

Before Titania can ask too many questions, Oberon orders music to be played and he and his wife dance to the sound of the stars singing in the clear night sky - a dance which charms the sleeping lovers and seals their love for each other for ever; a dance which restores the order and harmony of the seasons, brings the best of weather to the growing crops, and promises the finest of harvests; and above all else, a dance which eased the ill-used weavers mind reducing the abuse he’d suffered to a dream, Bottom’s Dream.

As the dance ends, the first birds of the morning start their tentative song and the night sky lightens at the approach of the sun.

Oberon and Titania take a last look at Bottom and the four lovers, and Puck pulls the young men across the forest floor until each is by the side of his soon-to-be wife, then he rolls Bottom off the bank and out of sight.

With the promise of a return to bless the wedding beds of three Athenian couples, the fairy court rushes ahead of the rising sun, laughter and music fading as they go.

The sun soon streams through the leaves speckling the floor with dancing patches of light. In the distance there is the sound of hounds baying and hunting horns getting closer.

Two huntsmen break into the clearing, quickly followed by a running Hippolyta dragging along Theseus who can hardly stand because he’s laughing so much. Puffing and panting, Egeus follows.

Just after Theseus orders one of the huntsmen to have the dogs released so Hippolyta can hear the hounds chasing their prey, he notices Egeus bouncing up and down, obvious excited about something.

Egeus has discovered the four lovers – and Theseus orders the second huntsman to have the hunting horns sounded.

To the glorious sound of a trumpet fanfare, Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena wake.

The Duke bids them good morning and wonders aloud what on earth they are doing there.

Lysander explains he was running away with Hermia, Egeus demands “the law” – and asks Demetrius to agree with him and demand satisfaction!

It comes as something of a shock to the old man when Demetrius says he no longer loves Hermia, but is once again in love with Helena.

Theseus quickly does the one thing he said he couldn’t do – overrules Egeus, and the law of Athens, then orders everyone back to Athens so the three couples can be married straight away.

The trumpets sound again and everyone heads out of the forest, the Duke and Hippolyta going first with a lot more dignity than they entered the clearing, and the two pairs of lovers following. Poor Egeus is left to hobble on behind, slightly bemused at the way his world has just been turned inside out.
As the last of the trumpets fade, a loud sneeze, sounding strangely like the he haw of an ass, bounces from tree to tree and Bottom’s head pops up from behind the bank Puck had pushed him off.

Half asleep, and thinking himself still at the rehearsal, he talks to his fellow actors – then realises he is on his own. His strange ‘dream’ comes to him and he decides to turn it into a ballad he will sing in the play. He rushes off in the direction of Athens to catch up with his fellow workmen and make final preparations for the entertainment.

(Scene 2)

Back in Athens, four of the workmen actors are sitting on a park bench, a little sad, and a lot worried.

No one has seen Bottom since the rehearsal in the forest turned so nasty. They really liked him and, besides, to their eyes, no one but Bottom could act the part of the hero so well.

Snug rushes in and tells them the Duke has finished the wedding ceremony – and now is the time to go to the palace – but where is Bottom?

Right on cue in he rushes and up everyone leaps and does a little dance of joy.

Bottom has a great tale to tell, but before that he has even greater news – they have been called to the palace – their play might be chosen to be performed before the Duke and his new wife.

Off everyone rushes; props have to be collected, costumes put on, makeup splattered on the face - just in case.
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