English KS2 / KS3: A Midsummer Night's Dream. 4: The Wrong Athenian

Oberon uses the magic flower on Titania...but Puck uses it on the wrong Athenian.

4: The Wrong Athenian

Oberon charms Titania’s sleeping eyes with the magic flower, hoping that when she opens them she will fall in love with some vile forest creature.

Helena and Lysander, who have lost their way in the woods, enter a clearing and decide to bed down for the night. Puck discovers them sleeping there and, as they are lying far apart, assumes that they must be Helena and Demetrius. Puck charms Lysander’s eyes with the magic flower and leaves to tell Oberon what he has done.

Helena walks into the clearing and discovers the sleeping Lysander. Fearing that he is hurt or even dead, she wakes him. On waking Lysander sees Helena and falls in love with her. Helena thinks he is making fun of her and runs off in tears. Lysander leaves Hermia sleeping on the ground and goes in pursuit of his new love. Hermia wakes up and finds herself alone in the forest. She goes in search of Lysander, fearing for his safety.

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Episode transcript

Activities - KS2

For a drama exercise that involves the whole class, pupils could be asked to create a freeze frame that describes the woods at night, arranging themselves into tree poses, nocturnal animals, watchful fairies, etc. The teacher could walk through the freeze frame touching pupils on the shoulder in turn, who would then tell the class what they represent and what noise they might make.

In pairs, pupils could demonstrate their understanding of characters and themes by creating freeze frames of pairs of characters in different poses - eg:

  • Oberon and Titania arguing
  • Hermia and Lysander in love
  • Helena pursuing Demetrius
  • Lysander falling in love with Helena

After examining Oberon and Puck’s use of the magic flower and accompanying verse passages, pupils could be asked to come up with their own magic flower, drawing a picture of it and describing its properties.

For a more advanced writing exercise, pupils could write a spell to be spoken when administering their magic flower and perform it in front of the class.

Activities - KS3

Students could look at the history of fairies and make notes on a timeline outlining what different cultures and societies thought about them in history.

Students could look at Lysander’s pleas of love to Helena from the end of Act 2, Scene 2 and use them as a starting point to discuss Shakespearean sonnets, discussing the rules around sonnet writing and creating a bank of rhyming couplets, which could then be used to assemble their own sonnets.

LYSANDER And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake!
Transparent Helena, nature shows art,
That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart.
Where is Demetrius? Oh how fit a word
Is that vile name to perish on my sword!

Do not say so Lysander, say not so:
What though he love your Hermia? Lord, what though?
Yet Hermia still loves you. Then be content.

Content with Hermia? No, I do repent
The tedious minutes I with her have spent.
Not Hermia, but Helena now I love;
Who will not change a raven for a dove?
The will of man is by his reason sway'd:
And reason says you are the worthier maid.
Things growing are not ripe until their season;
So I being young, till now ripe not to reason,
And touching now the point of human skill,
Reason becomes the marshal to my will.
And leads me to your eyes, where I o'relook
Loves stories, written in Love's richest book.

Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born?
When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?
Is't not enough, is't not enough, young man,
That I did never, no nor never can,
Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius' eye,
But you must flout my insufficiency?
Good troth you do me wrong (good-sooth you do)
In such disdainful manner, me to woo.
But fare you well; perforce I must confess,
I thought you Lord of more true gentleness.
Oh, that a Lady of one man refus'd,
Should of another therefore be abus'd!

She sees not Hermia. Hermia sleep thou there,
And neVer mayst thou come Lysander near!
For as a surfeit of the sweetest things
The deepest loathing to the stomach brings:
Or as the heresies that men do leave,
Are hated most of those that they did deceive:
So thou, my surfeit, and my heresy,
Of all be hated; but the most of me!
And, all my powers, address your love and might,
To honour Helen, and to be her knight!

More episodes from A Midsummer Night's Dream

3: Into the Woods
5: Oberon's Revenge
6: The Lovers' Quarrel