A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the play that made me fall in love with Shakespeare. Granted at the age of 11 I had no idea what was going on, but something in the magical world of the 1999 Michael Hoffman film (ranked No. 16 on our Best Shakespeare Films list) drew me in, and has never quite let me go. Since first watching that film version I have been in a number of productions, and I am currently rehearsing an open air version in which I am playing Oberon. I have a real soft spot for this play, so much so that I named it No. 6 on our best Shakespeare plays list.
Updated 12 Jan 2022
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This play is one of three Shakespeare plays that appears to have no origin. Most of Shakespeare’s works were either influenced by poems, short stories or other plays. However, this wild and unwieldy play was a pure creation of Shakespeare. And that is simply insane. For me, this play has so much to offer, and is Shakespeare’s crowning comic achievement.
List of Monologues from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
I would encourage all actors to read this incredible play and dive into the monologues listed here. I have included in this page all the major monologues. They are all wildly different and each a unique challenge. All these would be suitable for drama school auditions or any other theatre audition. I have decided for this page to list them in chronological order. Enjoy!
Egues Monologue (Act 1 Scene 1)
Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander. And my gracious Duke,
This man hath bewitch’d the bosom of my child.
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchanged love-tokens with my child:
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung
With feigning voice verses of feigning love,
And stol’n the impression of her fantasy
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats (messengers
Of strong prevailment in unharden’d youth):
With cunning hast thou filch’d my daughter’s heart,
Turn’d her obedience, which is due to me,
To stubborn harshness. And, my gracious Duke,
Be it so she will not here, before your Grace,
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens:
As she is mine, I may dispose of her;
Which shall be either to this gentleman,
Or to her death, according to our law
Immediately provided in that case.
For more on Egues (Act 1 Scene 1)
Helena Monologue (Act 1 Scene 1)
How happy some o’er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know;
And as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity:
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind;
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgement taste:
Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere;
For ere Demetrius look’d on Hermia’s eyne,
He hail’d down oaths that he was only mine;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight:
Then to the wood will he tomorrow night,
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense.
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.
For more on Helena (Act 1 Scene 1)
Puck (Act 2 Scene1)
Thou speak’st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither’d dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And ‘tailor’ cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
But, room, fairy! here comes Oberon.
For full analysis of Puck Act 2 Scene 1
Titania (Act 2 Scene1)
These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never, since the middle summer’s spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead,
By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
Or in the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
The nine-men’s-morris is fill’d up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable.
The human mortals want their winter cheer:
No night is now with hymn or carol blest.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound:
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown,
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set; the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries; and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which.
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.
For more on Titania Monologues (Act 2 Scene 1)
Oberon (Act 2 Scene 1)
Well, go thy way; thou shalt not from this grove
Till I torment thee for this injury.
My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememb’rest
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
That the rude sea grew civil at her song
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid’s music.
That very time I saw, but thou couldst not,
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm’d. A certain aim he took
At a fair vestal, thronèd by the west,
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts.
But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon;
And the imperial votress passèd on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound:
And maidens call it ‘love-in-idleness’.
Fetch me that flower; the herb I showed thee once.
The juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid,
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again
Ere the leviathan can swim a league
Oberon (Act 2 Scene 1)
I pray thee give it me.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine.
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamelled skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.
And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes,
And make her full of hateful fantasies.
Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:
A sweet Athenian lady is in love
With a disdainful youth. Anoint his eyes;
But do it when the next thing he espies
May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man
By the Athenian garments he hath on.
Effect it with some care, that he may prove
More fond on her than she upon her love:
And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.
Puck (Act 3 Scene 2)
My mistress with a monster is in love.
Near to her close and consecrated bower,
While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,
A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
Were met together to rehearse a play
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial day.
The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented in their sport,
Forsook his scene, and enter’d in a brake,
When I did him at this advantage take:
An ass’s nole I fixèd on his head.
Anon, his Thisbe must be answerèd,
And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,
Rising and cawing at the gun’s report,
Sever themselves, and madly sweep the sky
So, at his sight, away his fellows fly;
And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls;
He murder cries, and help from Athens calls.
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong:
For briars and thorns at their apparel snatch;
Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch.
I led them on in this distracted fear,
And left sweet Pyramus translated there;
When in that moment, so it came to pass,
Titania waked, and straightway loved an ass.
Discover more about Puck’s Monologue Act 3 Scene 2
Helena (Act 3 Scene 2)
Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three
To fashion this false sport, in spite of me.
Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!
Have you conspired, have you with these contrived
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us,–O, is it all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides, voices and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grow together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition;
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one and crowned with one crest.
And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly:
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.
Learn more about Helena’s Monologue (Act 3 Scene 2)
Oberon (Act 3 Scene 2)
Thou see’st these lovers seek a place to fight.
Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night.
The starry welkin cover thou anon
With drooping fog, as black as Acheron;
And lead these testy rivals so astray
As one come not within another’s way.
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius:
And from each other look thou lead them thus,
Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep.
Then crush this herb into Lysander’s eye,
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error with his might,
And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.
When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision;
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend,
With league whose date till death shall never end.
Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,
I’ll to my queen, and beg her Indian boy;
And then I will her charmèd eye release
From monster’s view, and all things shall be peace.
Oberon (Act 4 Scene 1)
Welcome, good Robin.
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
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:
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.
Be as thou wast wont to be;
See as thou wast wont to see:
Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower
Hath such force and blessed power.
Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen.
For full analysis of Oberon’s Act 4 Scene 1 Monologue
Bottom (Act 4 Scene 1)
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 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.
For more on Bottom’s Monologue Act 4 Scene1
Theseus (Act 5 Scene 1)
More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold;
That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy:
Or, in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
Puck (Act 5 Scene 2)
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
For me, these represent all the major monologues within A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There are so many pieces to explore, all with rich, deeply imaginative text. As you dig into the writing you will uncover some of the marvellous intricacies. This was the play where Shakespeare found some of his most vivid and original ideas, and I hope you find in it some of the joy it has given me over the years. Even after performing this play multiple times and reading it again and again throughout my life, I am still discovering and enriching my understanding. It is a gift to work on any of the monologues listed here, and I encourage you to do it regularly, whether you have an audition on the horizon or not.