"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare, Act I

In this comedy, two Athenian couples and a troupe of actors become unwitting pawns in a squabble between a fairy king and queen. Read the full text here.

Here are links to our lists for the play: Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV, Act V

Here are links to our lists for other plays by William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Hamlet, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Othello

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. linger
    take one's time; proceed slowly
    O, methinks, how slow
    This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires
  2. mirth
    great merriment
    Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
    Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
  3. melancholy
    a humor that was once believed to cause sadness
    Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
    The pale companion is not for our pomp.
  4. pomp
    ceremonial elegance and splendor
    Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
    And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
    But I will wed thee in another key,
    With pomp, with triumph and with revelling.
  5. vexation
    anger produced by some annoying irritation
    Full of vexation come I, with complaint
    Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
  6. feign
    make believe with the intent to deceive
    Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
    With feigning voice verses of feigning love
  7. cunning
    crafty artfulness, especially in deception
    With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart,
    Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me,
    To stubborn harshness
  8. entreat
    ask for or request earnestly
    I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
  9. abjure
    formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief
    Either to die the death or to abjure
    For ever the society of men.
  10. austerity
    self-denial, especially refraining from worldly pleasures
    Upon that day either prepare to die
    For disobedience to your father's will,
    Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
    Or on Diana's altar to protest
    For aye austerity and single life.
  11. relent
    give in, as to influence or pressure
    Relent, sweet Hermia: and, Lysander, yield
    Thy crazed title to my certain right.
  12. extenuate
    lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or degree of
    For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
    To fit your fancies to your father's will;
    Or else the law of Athens yields you up--
    Which by no means we may extenuate--
    To death, or to a vow of single life.
  13. edict
    a formal or authoritative proclamation
    If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,
    It stands as an edict in destiny:
    Then let us teach our trial patience,
    Because it is a customary cross
  14. prosper
    make steady progress
    I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow,
    By his best arrow with the golden head,
    By the simplicity of Venus' doves,
    By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves
  15. wont
    an established custom
    And in the wood, where often you and I
    Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,
    Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
    There my Lysander and myself shall meet;
  16. transpose
    change the order or arrangement of
    Things base and vile, folding no quantity,
    Love can transpose to form and dignity
  17. forswear
    formally reject or disavow
    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 every where:
  18. interlude
    a brief show between the sections of a longer performance
    Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his wedding-day at night.
  19. lamentable
    bad; unfortunate
    Marry, our play is, the most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.
  20. gallant
    having or displaying great dignity or nobility
    A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.
  21. condole
    express one's sympathy on the occasion of someone's death
    That will ask some tears in the true performing of it: if I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some measure.
  22. extempore
    with little or no preparation or forethought
    You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.
  23. discretion
    freedom to act or judge on one's own
    I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us: but I will aggravate my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you as 'twere any nightingale.
  24. tawny
    having the color of tanned leather
    I will discharge it in either your straw-colour beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow.
  25. device
    something in an artistic work designed to achieve an effect
    But, masters, here are your parts: and I am to entreat you, request you and desire you, to con them by tomorrow night; and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moonlight; there will we rehearse, for if we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with company, and our devices known.

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