A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Please see the bottom of this page for detailed explanatory notes and related resources.
|ACT IV SCENE I||The same. LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and HERMIA|
|Enter TITANIA and BOTTOM; PEASEBLOSSOM, COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARDSEED, and other Fairies attending; OBERON behind them unseen.|
|TITANIA||Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,|
|While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,|
|And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,|
|And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.|
|BOTTOM||Scratch my head Peaseblossom. Where’s Mounsieur Cobweb?|
|BOTTOM||Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your|
|weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped|
|humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good|
|mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret|
|yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and,|
|good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not;|
|I would be loath to have you overflown with a|
|honey-bag, signior. Where’s Mounsieur Mustardseed?|
|BOTTOM||Give me your neaf, Mounsieur Mustardseed. Pray you,|
|leave your courtesy, good mounsieur.|
|MUSTARDSEED||What’s your Will?||20|
|BOTTOM||Nothing, good mounsieur, but to help Cavalery Cobweb|
|to scratch. I must to the barber’s, monsieur; for|
|methinks I am marvellous hairy about the face; and I|
|am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me,|
|I must scratch.|
|TITANIA||What, wilt thou hear some music,|
|my sweet love?|
|BOTTOM||I have a reasonable good ear in music. Let’s have|
|the tongs and the bones.|
|TITANIA||Or say, sweet love, what thou desirest to eat.|
|BOTTOM||Truly, a peck of provender: I could munch your good|
|dry oats. Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle|
|of hay: good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.||31|
|TITANIA||I have a venturous fairy that shall seek|
|The squirrel’s hoard, and fetch thee new nuts.|
|BOTTOM||I had rather have a handful or two of dried peas.|
|But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me: I|
|have an exposition of sleep come upon me.|
|TITANIA||Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.|
|Fairies, begone, and be all ways away.|
|So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle|
|Gently entwist; the female ivy so||40|
|Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.|
|O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee!|
|See’st thou this sweet sight?|
|Her dotage now I do begin to pity:|
|For, meeting her of late behind the wood,|
|Seeking sweet favours from this hateful fool,|
|I did upbraid her and fall out with her;|
|For she his hairy temples then had rounded|
|With a coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers;|
|And that same dew, which sometime on the buds||50|
|Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls,|
|Stood now within the pretty flowerets’ eyes|
|Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.|
|When I had at my pleasure taunted her|
|And she in mild terms begg’d my patience,|
|I then did ask of her her changeling child;|
|Which straight she gave me, and her fairy sent|
|To bear him to my bower in fairy land.|
|And now I have the boy, I will undo|
|This hateful imperfection of her eyes:||60|
|And, gentle Puck, take this transformed scalp|
|From off the head of this Athenian swain;|
|That, he awaking when the other do,|
|May all to Athens back again repair|
|And think no more of this night’s accidents|
|But as the fierce vexation of a dream.|
|But first I will release the fairy queen.|
|Touching her eyes with an herb..|
|Be as thou wast wont to be;
|See as thou wast wont to see:|
|Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower||70|
|Hath such force and blessed power.|
|Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen.|
|TITANIA||My Oberon! what visions have I seen!|
|Methought I was enamour’d of an ass.|
|OBERON||There lies your love.|
|TITANIA||How came these things to pass?|
|O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!|
|OBERON||Silence awhile. Robin, take off this head.|
|Titania, music call; and strike more dead|
|Than common sleep of all these five the sense.|
|TITANIA||Music, ho! music, such as charmeth sleep!||80|
|PUCK||Now, when thou wakest, with thine|
|own fool’s eyes peep.|
|OBERON||Sound, music! Come, my queen, take hands with me,|
|And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.|
|Now thou and I are new in amity,|
|And will to-morrow midnight solemnly|
|Dance in Duke Theseus’ house triumphantly,|
|And bless it to all fair prosperity:|
|There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be|
|Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.|
|PUCK||Fairy king, attend, and mark:||90|
|I do hear the morning lark.|
|OBERON||Then, my queen, in silence sad,|
|Trip we after the night’s shade:|
|We the globe can compass soon,|
|Swifter than the wandering moon.|
|TITANIA||Come, my lord, and in our flight|
|Tell me how it came this night|
|That I sleeping here was found|
|With these mortals on the ground.|
|Sleepers lie still. Exeunt [fairies].|
|Horns winded within|
|Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS, and train.|
|THESEUS||Go, one of you, find out the forester;||100|
|For now our observation is perform’d;|
|And since we have the vaward of the day,|
|My love shall hear the music of my hounds.|
|Uncouple in the western valley; let them go:|
|Dispatch, I say, and find the forester.|
|Exit an Attendant|
|We will, fair queen, up to the mountain’s top,|
|And mark the musical confusion|
|Of hounds and echo in conjunction.|
|HIPPOLYTA||I was with Hercules and Cadmus once,|
|When in a wood of Crete they bay’d the bear||110|
|With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear|
|Such gallant chiding: for, besides the groves,|
|The skies, the fountains, every region near|
|Seem’d all one mutual cry: I never heard|
|So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.|
|THESEUS||My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,|
|So flew’d, so sanded, and their heads are hung|
|With ears that sweep away the morning dew;|
|Crook-knee’d, and dew-lapp’d like Thessalian bulls;|
|Slow in pursuit, but match’d in mouth like bells,||120|
|Each under each. A cry more tuneable|
|Was never holla’d to, nor cheer’d with horn,|
|In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly:|
|Judge when you hear. But, soft! what nymphs are these?|
|EGEUS||My lord, this is my daughter here asleep;|
|And this, Lysander; this Demetrius is;|
|This Helena, old Nedar’s Helena:|
|I wonder of their being here together.|
|THESEUS||No doubt they rose up early to observe|
|The rite of May, and hearing our intent,||130|
|Came here in grace our solemnity.|
|But speak, Egeus; is not this the day|
|That Hermia should give answer of her choice?|
|EGEUS||It is, my lord.|
|THESEUS||Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their horns.|
|Horns and shout within. LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS,HELENA, and HERMIA wake and start up.|
|Good morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past:|
|Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?|
|LYSANDER||Pardon, my lord.|
|THESEUS||I pray you all, stand up.|
|I know you two are rival enemies:|
|How comes this gentle concord in the world,||140|
|That hatred is so far from jealousy,|
|To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity?|
|LYSANDER||My lord, I shall reply amazedly,|
|Half sleep, half waking: but as yet, I swear,|
|I cannot truly say how I came here;|
|But, as I think,–for truly would I speak,|
|And now do I bethink me, so it is,–|
|I came with Hermia hither: our intent|
|Was to be gone from Athens, where we might,|
|Without the peril of the Athenian law.||150|
|EGEUS||Enough, enough, my lord; you have enough:|
|I beg the law, the law, upon his head.|
|They would have stolen away; they would, Demetrius,|
|Thereby to have defeated you and me,|
|You of your wife and me of my consent,|
|Of my consent that she should be your wife.|
|DEMETRIUS||My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,|
|Of this their purpose hither to this wood;|
|And I in fury hither follow’d them,|
|Fair Helena in fancy following me.||160|
|But, my good lord, I wot not by what power,–|
|But by some power it is,–my love to Hermia,|
|Melted as the snow, seems to me now|
|As the remembrance of an idle gaud|
|Which in my childhood I did dote upon;|
|And all the faith, the virtue of my heart,|
|The object and the pleasure of mine eye,|
|Is only Helena. To her, my lord,|
|Was I betroth’d ere I saw Hermia:|
|But, like in sickness, did I loathe this food;||170|
|But, as in health, come to my natural taste,|
|Now I do wish it, love it, long for it,|
|And will for evermore be true to it.|
|THESEUS||Fair lovers, you are fortunately met:|
|Of this discourse we more will hear anon.|
|Egeus, I will overbear your will;|
|For in the temple by and by with us|
|These couples shall eternally be knit:|
|And, for the morning now is something worn,|
|Our purposed hunting shall be set aside.||180|
|Away with us to Athens; three and three,|
|We’ll hold a feast in great solemnity.|
|Exeunt THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS, and train.|
|DEMETRIUS||These things seem small and undistinguishable,|
|HERMIA||Methinks I see these things with parted eye,|
|When every thing seems double.|
|And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,|
|Mine own, and not mine own.|
|DEMETRIUS||Are you sure|
|That we are awake? It seems to me||190|
|That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think|
|The duke was here, and bid us follow him?|
|HERMIA||Yea; and my father.|
|LYSANDER||And he did bid us follow to the temple.|
|DEMETRIUS||Why, then, we are awake: let’s follow him|
|And by the way let us recount our dreams.|
|When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer: my next is, ‘Most fair Pyramus.’ Heigh-ho!|
|Peter Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout,|
|the tinker! Starveling! God’s my life, stolen|
|hence, and left me asleep! I have had a most rare|
|vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to|
|say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go|
|about to expound this dream. Methought I was–there|
|is no man can tell what. Methought I was,–and|
|methought I had,–but man is but a patched fool, if|
|he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye||206|
|of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not|
|seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue|
|to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream|
|was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of|
|this dream: it shall be called Bottom’s Dream,|
|because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the|
|latter end of a play, before the duke:|
|peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall|
|sing it at her death.|
Next: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 4, Scene 2
Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 1
From A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan & Co.
2. amiable, lovely; the word is now applied only to the disposition of persons: coy, stroke softly; ultimately from Lat. quietus, quiet, still.
3. sleek, smooth, glossy.
4. my gentle joy, you gentle one in whom I take such delight.
7. Mounsieur, so the quartos and folios throughout Bottom’s speeches, — a spelling probably intended to represent his pronunciation, though the Camb. Edd. point out that the word was generally so spelled. Compare Pistol’s French in H. V.
11. red-hipped, Marshall points out that many of the bumble-bees have the lower half of the abdomen bright coloured, and one of the commonest species (Bombus lapidarius) has the last three abdominal segments bright red.
13. Do not … action, don’t fatigue yourself too much in doing it.
15. to have you overflown, that you should be smothered by the honey flowing out of the honey-bag.
18. neaf, or ‘neif,’ fist; from “Icel. hnefi, the fist.” … (Skeat, Ety. Dict.). Cp. ii. H. IV, ii. 4. 200, “I kiss thy neaf,” Pistol’s speech.
19. leave your courtesy, do not trouble yourself to be so ceremonious; cp. L. L. L. iv. 2. 147, “Stay not to compliment; I forgive thy duty.”
20. What’s your will? What do you desire of me? said as though he were addressing some great personage.
21. Cavalery, Bottom’s version of ‘Caballero,’ Spanish for cavalier, chevalier, literally a horseman; cp. M. W. ii. 3. 77, “Cavaleiro Slender,” the Hostess’ speech; Cobweb, either a misprint for “Peaseblossom,” or Bottom’s forgetfulness, Cobweb having already been despatched on his mission for the honey-bag.
22. must to, must go to, pay a visit to.
23. marvellous, used adverbially.
23, 4. I am such … scratch. Bottom compliments himself on his delicate sensitiveness, as he has before done on his various accomplishments, and does immediately afterwards on his good ear for music.
26. I have … music, Bottom was a weaver, and weavers in Shakespeare’s day were famed for their singing; cp. T. N. ii. 3. 61, “shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch that will draw three souls out of one weaver?”
26, 7. the tongs, a pair of tongs struck with a key or a piece of iron, something after the way of the modem ‘triangle,’ were used by rustics in place of better music. the bones, flat pieces of bone held between alternate fingers and clacked together.
29. provender, dry food for beasts, hay, corn; from “F. provende … Lat. proebenda a payment; in late Lat. a daily allowance of provisions”… (Skeat, Ety. Dict.): your, that you and everybody know so well; see Abb. § 221.
30. a desire to, a longing for: bottle, bundle; O. F. botel, a diminutive of botte a bundle of hay, etc.
31. fellow, equal.
32. venturous, the exploit of stealing his nuts from a creature so formidable (to fairies) as a squirrel being a dangerous one.
33. thence is Hanmer’s insertion for the sake of the metre; Steevens’ remedy of treating hoard as a dissyllable is unsatisfactory as involving an undue emphasis on thee.
35, 6. an exposition of sleep, a disposition to sleep.
38. be all ways away, disperse yourselves in every direction to your several duties; be, perhaps indicating the instantaneous movements of fairies.
39. woodbine, the greater convolvulus; cp. above, ii. 1. 251.
40. entwist, wind its tendrils about: female ivy, as needing the masculine support of some stronger tree; generally in poetry represented as married to the elm. In C. E. ii. 2. 176-8, it is the vine that is so represented, “Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine, Whose weakness married to thy stronger state Makes me with thy strength to communicate.”
41. Enrings, Henley sees here and in fingers an allusion to the ring of the marriage rite; the barky fingers, the sprays covered with rough bark; for adjectives formed from substantives by the suffix -y see Abb. § 450.
46. sweet favours … fool, sweet-scented flowers to decorate this odious fool; we still use the word ‘wedding-favours‘ in the sense of knots of ribbon with which the wedding-guests are decorated. The second quarto and the three first folios read ‘savours,’ which some editors adopt.
47. upbraid, reproach; Skeat says that the original sense of the word was probably to lay hands upon, lay hold of, hence to attack, lay to one’s charge, it being derived from A.S. upp, up, and bregdan, bredan, to braid, weave, also to lay hold of, pull, draw.
48. rounded, encircled; cp. R. II. iii. 2. 161, “the hollow crown That rounds the mortal temples of a king.”
50. that same dew, the very dew: sometime, once upon a time; see note on ii. 1. 38.
51. orient, bright; the East being the source of light; applied to a tear, V. A. 981, “an orient drop.”
52. eyes, the centre of a flower was called the ‘eye.’
53. that did … bewail, sc. being used for such a purpose.
54. at my pleasure, as long as I pleased, with no one to stop me.
55. begg’d my patience, begged me not to be angry with her.
57. straight, immediately: her fairy, her personal attendant.
59, 60. And now I have, and now that I have: I will … eyes, I will take off from her eyes this deception which prevents her from seeing things as they really are.
61. this transformed scalp, this transforming head, this head with which he has been transformed; scalp is properly the skin of the head on which the hair grows.
63, 4. That, he … repair, equivalent to ‘That they all awaking together, may,’ etc.; for other, used as a plural, see Abb. § 12; repair, in this sense from Lat. repatriare, to return to one’s country.
65. accidents, incidents; cp. Temp. v. 1. 305, “the story of my life And the particular accidents gone by Since I came to this isle.”
66. But as … dream, than as the fancies by which one is tortured in a dream.
70. Dian’s bud, Steevens says this is the bud of the Agnus Castus or Chaste Tree; and quotes Macer’s Herball “The vertue of this herbe is, that he wyll kepe man and woman chaste.” Halpin, in his explanation of Oberon’s vision, sees here an allusion to Elizabeth’s maiden purity; she being symbolized under the title of Diana.
75. year love, he whom you loved.
77. Silence, possibly a reference to the necessity of silence while a spell was being allowed to work; cp. Temp, iv. 1. 59, 127, Epilogue, 10.
78. music call, summon your fairies to play to you.
78, 9. and strike … sense, and overpower, more completely than ordinary sleep would do, the sense of these five, viz., Hermia, Helena, Lysander, Demetrius, Bottom.
80. such as … sleep! i.e. soft music, which acts as a charm in producing sleep.
Stage Direction. Music, still. According to Dyce, with whom Delius and Staunton agree, these words mean still or soft music; and in opposition to Collier, who thinks that the music was to be heard for a while, and to cease before Puck spoke. Dyce contends that the music was not intended to begin at all till Oberon had exclaimed “Sound music,” 1. 82. “The stage direction,” he says, “(as is often the case with stage directions in old plays) was placed thus early to warn the musicians to be in readiness.”
81. with thine … peep, see things with your own foolish eyes, as you have been wont to do, and not with the eyes of an ass with which you have lately seen things.
82. take hands, join hands; Dyce points out that here “some sort of a pas de deux is danced by the fairy king and queen.”
83. rock the ground, “like a cradle” (Wright).
84. are new in amity, are newly made friends again.
86. triumphantly, festively, with all signs of joy and gladness.
87. And bless … prosperity, and shower our blessings upon it with the result of its being ever prosperous.
89. with, at the same time with.
91. the … lark, cp. R. J. iii. 5. 6, “It was the lark, the herald of the morn.”
92. sad, sober; as frequently in Shakespeare.
93. Trip we … shade, let us lightly follow the darkness of the night to that part of the globe which it will be shadowing.
95. Swifter, see note on “moon’s sphere,” ii. 1. 7, above.
100. the forester, the huntsman who was to bring the hounds for the chase.
101. our … performed, our rites to the May morning have been duly observed; cp. above i. 1. 167.
102. vaward, forepart; another spelling of ‘vanward’ (or ‘vanguard’), from O. F. avant before and ‘ward’ (or ‘guard’). For the word used in a figurative sense, cp. ii. H. IV. i. 2. 199, “and we that are in the vaward of our youth, I must confess, are wags too.”
103. My love, sc. Hippolyta: music, tuneful voices.
104. Uncouple, let the dogs out of the slips. For the sake of the metre. Pope omits the words let them, and Dyce follows him.
105. Dispatch, make haste.
106. We will … up, the verb of motion omitted.
107. the musical confusion, the harmonious blending of the baying of dogs and the echo of that baying.
110. bay’d the bear, brought the bear to a stand-still; “bay — F. abois, abbois, Cotgrave says — ‘a stag is said rendre les abbois, when, weary of running, he turns upon the hounds, and holds them at or puts them to a bay’,.. The original sense of aboi is the bark of a dog,” … (Skeat, Ety. Dict.): bear was altered by Hanmer to ‘boar,’ but bear-hunting is frequently mentioned in old English literature, and bear-baiting was a pastime common in Shakespeare’s day.
111. hounds of Sparta, the Spartan hounds were from early days a famous breed.
112. chiding, noise made by the hounds giving tongue; used of the wind in A. Y. L. ii. 1. 7, of the sea in H. VIII. iii. 2. 197, of the tempest in T. C. i. 3. 54.
113. fountains has been objected to on the around that water could not give an echo (though Virgil, quoted by Malone, has the same thought) and ‘mountains’ proposed in its place; but Shakespeare in speaking of the whole landscape is not careful whether each item in his catalogue of particulars would really give an echo.
114. seem’d … cry, seemed all to share and re-echo the cry to each other.
115. So musical a discord, properly so harmonious a want of harmony; a want of concord which at the same time was so harmonious.
116. kind, breed.
117. So flew’d, with flews like those of the Spartan breed; ‘flews’ are the large chaps of a hound: so sanded, of the same sandy colour, a colour “which is one of the true denotements of a bloodhound” (Steevens).
118. With oars … dew, i.e. so long that they almost touch the ground.
119. dew-lapp’d … bulls, with dewlaps as broad as those of, etc.; cp. Temp, iii. 3. 45, “Dew-lapped like bulls“; and see note on ii. 1. 50.
120, 1. match’d … each. A writer in the Edinburgh Review for October, 1872, points out that in Shakespeare’s day the greatest attention was paid to the musical quality of the cry of a pack of hounds; and quotes extracts from a contemporary of Shakespeare’s to show by what admixture of breeds ‘sweetnesse of cry,’ ‘lowdnesse of cry,’ and ‘deepnesse of cry,’ were severally obtained; for mouth, = voice, cp. H. V. ii. 4. 70, “for coward dogs Most spend their mouths when what they seem to threaten Runs far before them.”
121. tuneable, tuneful; see Abb. § 3.
122. Was never holla’d to, was never answered by the huntsman encouraging his dogs.
128. wonder of, wonder regarding, i.e. wonder at.
131. in grace of, to grace: solemnity, marriage ceremony.
133. That Hermia … choice, on which Hermia is bound to tell us which of her two lovers she accepts; for That, = when, see Abb. § 284.
136. Saint Valentine is past, on Valentine’s day, the fourteenth of February, birds were supposed to pair for the season.
137. Begin… now? are these wood-birds so late in pledging their faith? wood-birds, because they had been found in the wood; the figure being kept up in couple.
138. Pardon, my lord, said as he makes obeisance to Theseus.
139. rival enemies, rivals and so enemies.
140-2. How comes … enmity? How does such gentle concord prevail in the world that hatred is so completely a stranger to suspicion as to sleep side by side with hatred without fearing any injury? i.e. how is it that you and Demetrius, who are known to hate each other so bitterly, should be found lying close to one another, each without any fear of injury from the other? for jealousy, = suspicion, cp. H. V. ii. 2. 126, “O, how hast thou with jealousy infected The sweetness of affiance!” for so … that, see Abb. § 281.
143, 4. I shall … waking, my answer must be made in a bewildered way as by one half asleep, half waking; there seems to be a confusion of constructions between ‘I shall reply half asleep, half waking,’ and ‘my reply shall be half sleep, half waking.’ Delius and Staunton read ‘sleep,’ i.e. asleep: for shall, = must, see Abb. § 318.
146. for truly … speak, for I should wish to speak the truth.
147. so it is, this is the state of matters.
149, 50. Was to be … law, was to escape from Athens to some place or other beyond the reach of the Athenian law. If the reading is right, the construction seems to be ‘Was to be gone without the peril of the Athenian law by going from Athens where we might.’ Fisher’s quarto puts a dash after law, to signify that the speech is incomplete; Hanmer gives “Be without peril of th’ Athenian law”; for without, used locally = outside, see Abb. § 197.
151. you have enough, enough has been admitted by Lysander to prove their guilt.
152. I beg the law, i.e. the application of the law; cp. M. V. iv. 1. 141, “I stand here for law.”
154. Thereby … me, so that they might in that way disappoint both of us; cp. H. V. iv. 1. 175, “Now, if these men have defeated the law and outrun native punishment”; Sonn, xx. 11, “Till Nature … fell a-doting And by addition me of thee defeated.”
157. their stealth, their stealing away.
158. Of this … wood, of this intention of theirs to make for this wood.
160. in fancy, out of love for me.
163. Melted, being melted. I have followed Dyce in inserting melts before snow; other conjectures are, “Melteth as does,” etc.; “All melted as,” etc.
164. gawd, toy, bauble; see above, i. 1. 33.
166-8. And all … Helena, all the firm loyalty of my heart has Helena for its mark, she is the sole object of delight to my eye.
170-2. But … wish it, but, just as one in sickness loathes the most pleasant food, so did I loathe Helena; yet again, just as one in health desires pleasant food, so I, having now recovered my natural taste, desire Helena; But and But, if the reading is correct, may be used as correlatives = as, so.
175. this discourse, this narrative.
176. overbear, bear down by my command, over-rule.
177. by and by, in a short time; see note on iii. 1. 77.
179. for, since: is something worn, has partly gone by.
181. three and three, each of us three with the object of our love.
184. These things … undistinguishable, these matters to which I attached so much importance, now that I am awake and in my right mind, seem so trifling as to be scarcely perceptible.
185. turned into clouds, which to the physical eye look no more substantial than clouds.
186. with parted eye, as one would if one’s eyes were not in focus with each other.
188, 9. And I … own, and as when a man finds a jewel and does not know whether he may call it his own, or whether he will have to give it up to some one claiming it, so I, in finding Demetrius, feel the same uncertainty as to his really belonging to me.
190. That we are awake? Capell and Lettsom both conjecture ‘well’ before awake; Malone would insert ‘now.’
196. by the way, as we go along.
198. next, sc. cue.
200. God’s my life, i.e. by God who is my life, or as God is my life.
202. past the wit … was, which it is beyond the wisdom of man to say what its nature was.
203. go about, endeavour.
205. a patched fool, no better than a fool dressed in motley.
206. offer, attempt.
206-9. The eye … was. Bottom is clumsily parodying Scripture; see i. Corinthians, ii. 9.
210. of this dream, on the subject of this dream.
212. our is Walker’s conjecture for ‘a.’
213. gracious, pleasing: her death, if the true reading, can refer to Thisbe only; Theobald conjectured ‘after’ for at her, i.e. after he has slain himself in the character of Pyramus.
How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1891.