In the week before his wedding, Theseus, the Duke of Athens is called upon to solve a problem. A man named Egeus is furious because his daughter, Hermia, refuses to marry Demetrius, the man whom Egeus has chosen for her. Instead Hermia wants to marry another man, Lysander, who is in love with her as well. Theseus decrees that, according to the laws of Athens, Hermia must either marry Demetrius, or she must die for disobeying her father’s wishes, and gives her a week to make her choice. Pledging their undying love for one another, Hermia and Lysander flee Athens and run off to the woods to elope. Demetrius follows them, and Helena, a young woman who is in love with Demetrius, follows him. Also entering the forest that evening is a crew of comical Athenian workmen who are rehearsing a play for Duke Theseus’ wedding day.
But these are no ordinary woods. The mortals have entered the kingdom of Oberon and Titania, the warring King and Queen of the fairies.
Much fairy mischief ensues, mischief which turns the lives of the mortals upside down with slapstick antics. And when it’s all over, the events of those nights in the woods have been so extraordinary that the poor humans are left rubbing their eyes, wondering if all has been a dream.
The prime goal of this retelling is to bring the play to life in students’ imaginations, and to give them a sense of Shakespeare’s way with words. The re-teller uses Shakespeare’s actual imagery whenever possible, and attempts to imply the musicality of his writing. Students who read this play will want to read more Shakespeare from Start-to-Finish.
Original author: William Shakespeare
Retold by author: Noe Venable
Guided Reading Level: Q
Lexile Level: 590