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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Be certain, nothing truer. 'Tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.
I’ve spelled it out for you clearly. It’s no joke. I hate you and love Helena.
O me!
290 (to HELENA) You juggler! You canker-blossom!
You thief of love! What, have you come by night
And stol'n my love’s heart from him?
Oh, no! (to HELENA) You trickster, you snake! You thief! What, did you sneak in at night and steal my love’s heart from him?
      Fine, i' faith!
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear
295Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! You counterfeit, you puppet, you!
Oh, that’s very nice! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You’re going to make me mad enough to answer you? Damn you, you faker, you puppet!
“Puppet”? Why so?—Ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures. She hath urged her height,
300And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevailed with him.—
And are you grown so high in his esteem
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak.
305How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
“Puppet”? Why “puppet”?—Oh, I see where this is going. She’s talking about our difference in height. She’s paraded in front of him to show off how tall she is. She won him over with her height.—Does he have such a high opinion of you because I’m so short? Is that it? So how short am I, you painted barber pole? Tell me. How short am I? I’m not too short to gouge your eyes out with my fingernails.
I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me. I was never cursed.
310I have no gift at all in shrewishness.
I am a right maid for my cowardice.
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,
That I can match her.
(to LYSANDER and DEMETRIUS) Please don’t let her hurt me, gentlemen, however much you want to tease me. I never was much good with insults. I’m not mean and catty like her. I’m a nice shy girl. Please don’t let her hit me. Maybe you think that because she’s shorter than me I can take her.