A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 3, Scene 2: "Another part of the wood"
Oberon and Puck discuss the evening's events. Puck tells him that he saw a group of players who were very pitiful and gave the shallowest one of the bunch, Bottom, an ass's head. He continues to tell the story that "When in that moment, so it came to pass,/ Titania waked and straightway loved an ass" Act 3, Scene 2, lines 32-33. Oberon asks Puck if he placed the magic juice in the Athenian's eyelids while asleep. Puck proudly responds that he did.
Then, Hermia and Demetrius walk into the same spot in the woods arguing. Hermia blames Demetrius for Lysander's disappearance and claims that he killed him in his sleep. Demetrius is frustrated with Hermia's jabber and constant chatter and tells her he did nothing of the sort. The two bicker, until Hermia leaves in a fit of rage telling Demetrius he will never see her again alive. Demetrius then is weary from Hermia's bad mood; he still loves her, but stops following her for the meantime and falls asleep. Oberon places the magic juice on his sleeping eyelids while Puck gets Helena. Puck states in delight of the mischief and in frustration with the Athenian game of two men in love with one woman: "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" Act 3, Scene 2, lines 115
Helena enters the same spot in the woods, followed by a love-struck Lysander. She cannot understand his actions and still thinks she is being mocked. She also reminds Lysander that he is in love with Hermia and that she is in love with Demetrius. Demetrius then wakes up, opens his eyes, sees Helena, and falls in love. Helena is completely fed up and bursts at the two men:
"O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment:
If you we re civil and knew courtesy,
You would not do me thus much injury.
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
But you must join in souls to mock me too?
If you were men, as men you are in show,
You would not use a gentle lady so;
To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts,
When I am sure you hate me with your hearts.
You both are rivals, and love Hermia;
And now both rivals, to mock Helena:
A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,
To conjure tears up in a poor maid's eyes
With your derision! none of noble sort
Would so offend a virgin, and extort
A poor soul's patience, all to make you sport." Act 2, Scene 2, lines 145-161
Hermia returns, sees the very living Lysander and asks him why he left her alone in the woods at night. He responds callously that he had no reason to stay when he wanted to find his love (namely Helena).
Helena now thinks that all three are against her and reminds Hermia of their long-lived, childhood friendship. She begins to leave. Demetrius and Lysander immediately stop her exit by beginning to duel for her hand. Hermia clings to Lysander as he shuns her with despicable insults: "Hang of, thou cat, thou burr! Vile thing, let loose,/ Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent!" Act 3, Scene 2, lines 260-261. Hermia responds that hate is the greatest injury and then physically turns on Helena. They fight and throw insults at one another until Helena enlists her "men" for help from Hermia. They come to her speedy rescue and leave. Hermia is in shock and exits the stage.
Oberon and Puck have been watching the entire spectacle from a hidden spot in the set. Oberon tells Puck that the chaos is his fault. He commands Puck to place more magic juice in Lysander's eyes so that the two couples will be matched up correctly by night. Then, he plans to find Titania, laugh at her spectacle with Bottom and then make amends.
Lysander returns. Puck imitates Demetrius' voice in order to get him to follow him to a specific location where he will fall asleep. He does the same trickery with Demetrius, until they both lie sleeping. Helena enters followed by Hermia. All four fall asleep and Puck works his magic: "Two of both kinds makes up four...In your waking shall be shown:/ Jack shall have Jill;/ Nought shall go ill:/ The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well" Act 3, Scene 2, lines 438-463. The four Athenians lay sleeping together, and when they wake up, will quarrel no more.