A Midsummer Night's Dream. 6: The Lovers' Quarrel
Demetrius and Lysander compete for Helena's love...and Hermia starts a fight.
6: The Lovers' Quarrel
Puck leads Helena to Demetrius, whereupon Lysander appears and restates his love for Helena. When Demetrius, who is sleeping close by, wakes up and sees Helena, he too falls madly in love with her under the influence of the magic flower. Helena thinks that she is now being made fun of by both Lysander and Demetrius.
Hermia arrives and Helena accuses her of being in on the joke as well. Hermia also thinks Lysander is mocking Helena; when she asks him to stop, Lysander turns on her. Hermia then turns on Helena, thinking that she has seduced Lysander with her height.
All four lovers almost come to blows, at which point Oberon appears and freezes them where they stand. He's furious and commands Puck to lead the lovers through the forest until they all fall asleep and then to charm Lysander’s eyes so that he might fall in love with Hermia again. Puck summons a thick fog and prepares to lead the lovers their separate ways through the wood.
Activities - KS2
There is plenty of Shakespearean language for pupils to consider in this episode of the adaptation. Demetrius’s speech when he wakes up and sees Helena (“O Helena, goddess, perfect, divine! To what, my love, shall I compare your eyes? Crystal is too muddy...”) could lead to a discussion about metaphors and similes and even introduce some other famous imaginative comparisons from Shakespeare - eg Sonnets 18 and 130.
Helena and Hermia’s confrontation is peppered with Shakespearean insults - eg “juggler”, “canker-blossom”, “puppet”, “painted maypole”. Pupils could have a discussion about what these insults mean, as well as be given an opportunity to devise (and perform) their own Shakespearean insults with the aid of an insult generator worksheet.
Activities - KS3
Students could analyse selections from the original text of the lovers’ quarrel in Act 3, Scene 2, picking out notable words and phrases and identifying any language features that are used by Shakespeare to express character.
They could then attempt to re-write complete passages in modern prose, retaining the meaning of the original.