A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

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Modern Text

THESEUS
Thanks, good Egeus. What’s the news with thee?
THESEUS
Thanks, good Egeus. What’s new with you?
EGEUS
Full of vexation come I with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.—
Stand forth, Demetrius.—My noble lord,
25This man hath my consent to marry her.—
Stand forth, Lysander.—And my gracious duke,
This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child.—
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchanged love tokens with my child.
30Thou 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
35Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth.
With cunning hast thou filched my daughter’s heart,
Turned her obedience (which is due to me)
To stubborn harshness.—And, my gracious duke,
Be it so she will not here before your grace
40Consent 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
45Immediately provided in that case.
EGEUS
I’m here, full of anger, to complain about my daughter Hermia.—Step forward, Demetrius.—My lord, this man, Demetrius, has my permission to marry her.—Step forward, Lysander.—But this other man, Lysander, has cast a magic spell over my child’s heart.—You, you, Lysander, you’ve given her poems, and exchanged tokens of love with my daughter. You’ve pretended to be in love with her, singing fake love songs softly at her window by moonlight, and you’ve captured her imagination by giving her locks of your hair, rings, toys, trinkets, knickknacks, little presents, flowers, and candies—things that can really influence an impressionable young person. You’ve connived to steal my daughter’s heart, making her stubborn and harsh instead of obedient (like she should be).—And, my gracious duke, if she won’t agree to marry Demetrius right now, I ask you to let me exercise the right that all fathers have in Athens. Since she belongs to me, I can do what I want with her—as the law says: I can either make her marry Demetrius—or have her killed.
THESEUS
What say you, Hermia? Be advised, fair maid:
To you your father should be as a god,
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax,
50By him imprinted and within his power
To leave the figure or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
THESEUS
What do you have to say for yourself, Hermia? Think carefully, pretty girl. You should think of your father as a god, since he’s the one who gave you your beauty. To him, you’re like a figure that he’s sculpted out of wax, and he has the power to keep that figure intact or to disfigure it. Demetrius is an admirable man.