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The initial setting of the plays scenes is Athens under the reign of Theses and Hippolyta who are themselves characters from ancient Greek mythology But it must be understood that the Athens of A Midsummer Nights Dream is neither that of ancient Greece nor of its Renaissance counterpart but an amalgamation of the former with the folk culture of Elizabethan England After Act I the play shifts to the fairyland woods and remains there through Acts II III and IV returning to Athens in Act V for the concluding weddings and the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe by the uncouth unskilled but irrepressible company of Bottom and his fellow mechanicals Act I Scene i The play opens in the Athenian court of Theseus as he looks forward to wedding his bride the former Queen of the Amazons Hippolyta some four days hence at the summer Solstice The blocking character of the play arrives in the form of the aged Egeus the father of Hermia He wants his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius and he is vexed by her love for another Athenian youth Lysander Hermia refuses her fathers demand while both Lysander and Demetrius press their suits to Theseus The wise Athenian ruler upholds the law as it stands he first rules that Hermia must either follow her fathers preference for Demetrius or remain unwed forever But Theseus also gives Hermia and Lysander some time to accommodate themselves to his decision and then calls Egeus into a private off-stage consultation All the players leave save Lysander and Hermia with the former uttering the famous sentiment that The course of true love never did run smooth Ii l134 Another Athenian maid Helena arrives She is both a former friend of Hermia and a rival for the affections of Demetrius whom Hermia spurns but Helena loves Hermia tries to assuage her friends jealousy by revealing to Helena that she and Lysander plan to run away into the
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