Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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Sc. 11.1

Editor’s NoteEnter Theseus, Hippolyta, with others [including Philostrate]
Link 1

theseus Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour

2Draws on apace. Four happy days bring in

3Another moon—but O, methinks how slow

Editor’s Note4This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires

Editor’s Note5Like to a stepdame or a dowager

6Long withering out a young man's revenue.

Editor’s Note7

hippolyta Four days will quickly steep themselves in night,

8Four nights will quickly dream away the time—

9And then the moon, like to a silver bow

10New bent in heaven, shall behold the night

11Of our solemnities.

theseus Go, Philostrate,

pg 108412Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments.

13Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.

14Turn melancholy forth to funerals:

Editor’s Note15The pale companion is not for our pomp.

[Exit Philostrate]

Editor’s Note16Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword,

17And won thy love doing thee injuries.

18But I will wed thee in another key—

Editor’s Note19With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.

Editor’s NoteEnter Egeus and his daughter Hermia, and Lysander and Demetrius

egeus Happy be Theseus, our renownèd Duke.


theseus Thanks, good Egeus. What's the news with thee?


egeus Full of vexation come I, with complaint

Link 23Against my child, my daughter Hermia.—

24Stand forth, Demetrius.—My noble lord,

25This man hath my consent to marry her.—

Editor’s Note26Stand forth, Lysander.—And, my gracious Duke,

27This hath bewitched the bosom of my child.

28Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes

29And interchanged love tokens with my child.

30Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung

Editor’s Note31With feigning voice verses of feigning love,

Editor’s Note32And stol'n the impression of her fantasy

Editor’s Note33With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits,

Editor’s Note34Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats—messengers

Editor’s Note35Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth.

36With cunning hast thou filched my daughter's heart,

37Turned her obedience (which is due to me)

38To stubborn harshness. And, my gracious Duke,

Editor’s Note39Be it so she will not here before your grace

40Consent to marry with Demetrius,

Editor’s Note41I beg the ancient privilege of Athens:

42As she is mine, I may dispose of her,

43Which shall be either to this gentleman

Editor’s Note44Or to her death, according to our law

Editor’s Note45Immediately provided in that case.


theseus What say you, Hermia? Be advised, fair maid.

47To you your father should be as a god,

48One that composed your beauties, yea, and one

49To whom you are but as a form in wax,

50By him imprinted, and within his power

51To leave the figure or disfigure it.

52Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.


hermia So is Lysander.

theseus In himself he is,

pg 1085Editor’s Note54But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,

55The other must be held the worthier.

Link 56

hermia I would my father looked but with my eyes.


theseus Rather your eyes must with his judgement look.


hermia I do entreat your grace to pardon me.

59I know not by what power I am made bold,

Editor’s Note60Nor how it may concern my modesty

61In such a presence here to plead my thoughts,

62But I beseech your grace that I may know

63The worst that may befall me in this case

64If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

Editor’s Note65

theseus Either to die the death, or to abjure

66For ever the society of men.

67Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires.

Editor’s Note68Know of your youth, examine well your blood,

69Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,

Editor’s Note70You can endure the livery of a nun,

Editor’s Note71For aye to be in shady cloister mewed,

72To live a barren sister all your life,

Editor’s Note73Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.

74Thrice blessèd they that master so their blood

75To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;

Editor’s Note76But earthlier happy is the rose distilled

77Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,

Editor’s Note78Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.


hermia So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,

Editor’s Note80Ere I will yield my virgin patent up

Editor’s Note81Unto his lordship whose unwishèd yoke

82My soul consents not to give sovereignty.


theseus Take time to pause, and by the next new moon—

84The sealing day betwixt my love and me

85For everlasting bond of fellowship—

86Upon that day either prepare to die

87For disobedience to your father's will,

88Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would,

Editor’s Note89Or on Diana's alter to protest

90For aye austerity and single life.

Link 91

demetrius Relent, sweet Hermia; and, Lysander, yield

Editor’s Note92Thy crazèd title to my certain right.


lysander You have her father's love, Demetrius;

94Let me have Hermia's. Do you marry him.


egeus Scornful Lysander! True, he hath my love;

96And what is mine my love shall render him,

97And she is mine, and all my right of her

Editor’s Note98I do estate unto Demetrius.

pg 1086 Editor’s Note99

lysander [to Theseus] I am, my lord, as well derived as he,

Editor’s Note100As well possessed. My love is more than his,

Editor’s Note101My fortunes every way as fairly ranked

Editor’s Note102(If not with vantage) as Demetrius';

103And—which is more than all these boasts can be—

104I am beloved of beauteous Hermia.

Editor’s Note105Why should not I then prosecute my right?

Editor’s Note106Demetrius—I'll avouch it to his head—

107Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,

108And won her soul, and she, sweet lady, dotes,

109Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry

Editor’s Note110Upon this spotted and inconstant man.


theseus I must confess that I have heard so much,

112And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;

Editor’s Note113But, being over-full of self affairs,

114My mind did lose it. But, Demetrius, come;

115And come, Egeus. You shall go with me.

Editor’s Note116I have some private schooling for you both.

Editor’s Note117For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself

Editor’s Note118To fit your fancies to your father's will,

119Or else the law of Athens yields you up—

Editor’s Note120Which by no means we may extenuate—

121To death or to a vow of single life.

Editor’s Note122Come, my Hippolyta; what cheer, my love?—

Editor’s Note123Demetrius and Egeus, go along.

124I must employ you in some busïness

Editor’s Note125Against our nuptial, and confer with you

Editor’s Note Link 126Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.


egeus With duty and desire we follow you.

Editor’s NoteExeunt [all but Lysander and Hermia]

lysander How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale?

129How chance the roses there do fade so fast?

Editor’s Note130

hermia Belike for want of rain, which I could well

Editor’s Note131Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.


lysander Ay me, for aught that I could ever read,

133Could ever hear by tale or history,

134The course of true love never did run smooth,

Editor’s Note135But either it was different in blood—


hermia O cross!—too high to be enthralled to low.

Editor’s Note137

lysander Or else misgrafted in respect of years—


hermia O spite!—too old to be engaged to young.

Editor’s Note139

lysander Or merit stood upon the choice of friends—


hermia O hell!—to choose love by another's eyes.


lysander Or if there were a sympathy in choice,

pg 1087142War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,

143Making it momentary as a sound,

144Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,

Editor’s Note145Brief as the lightning in the collied night,

Editor’s Note146That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,

147And, ere a man hath power to say 'Behold!',

148The jaws of darkness do devour it up.

Editor’s Note149So quick bright things come to confusïon.


hermia If then true lovers have been ever crossed,

151It stands as an edìct in destiny.

152Then let us teach our trial patïence,

Editor’s Note153Because it is a customary cross,

154As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,

Editor’s Note155Wishes and tears, poor fancy's followers.

Editor’s Note156

lysander A good persuasion. Therefore hear me, Hermia.

157I have a widow aunt, a dowager

158Of great revènue, and she hath no child,

Editor’s Note159And she respects me as her only son.

Editor’s Note160From Athens is her house remote seven leagues.

Link 161There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee,

162And to that place the sharp Athenian law

163Cannot pursue us. If thou lov'st me then,

Editor’s Note164Steal forth thy father's house tomorrow night,

Editor’s Note165And in the wood, a league without the town,

166Where I did meet thee once with Helena

Editor’s Note167To do observance to a morn of May,

168There will I stay for thee.

hermia My good Lysander,

169I swear to thee by Cupid's strongest bow,

Editor’s Note170By his best arrow with the golden head,

Editor’s Note171By the simplicity of Venus' doves,

172By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,

Editor’s Note173And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen

174When the false Trojan under sail was seen;

175By all the vows that ever men have broke—

176In number more than ever women spoke—

177In that same place thou hast appointed me

178Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.


lysander Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.

Editor’s NoteEnter Helena
Editor’s Note180

hermia God speed, fair Helena. Whither away?


helena Call you me fair? That 'fair' again unsay.

Editor’s Note182Demetrius loves your fair—O happy fair!

pg 1088Editor’s Note183Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue's sweet air

Editor’s Note184More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear

185When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.

Editor’s Note186Sickness is catching. O, were favour so!

Editor’s Note187Your words I catch, fair Hermia; ere I go,

188My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,

189My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.

Editor’s Note190Were the world mine—Demetrius being bated—

Editor’s Note191The rest I'd give to be to you translated.

192O, teach me how you look, and with what art

Editor’s Note193You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.

Link 194

hermia I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.


helena O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!


hermia I give him curses, yet he gives me love.


helena O that my prayers could such affection move!


hermia The more I hate, the more he follows me.


helena The more I love, the more he hateth me.


hermia His folly, Helen, is no fault of mine.


helena None but your beauty; would that fault were mine!


hermia Take comfort. He no more shall see my face.

203Lysander and myself will fly this place.

204Before the time I did Lysander see

205Seemed Athens as a paradise to me.

206O then, what graces in my love do dwell,

207That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell?


lysander Helen, to you our minds we will unfold.

Editor’s Note209Tomorrow night, when Phoebe doth behold

Editor’s Note210Her silver visage in the wat'ry glass,

Editor’s Note211Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass—

Editor’s Note212A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal—

213Through Athens' gates have we devised to steal.


hermia And in the wood where often you and I

Editor’s Note215Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,

216Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,

217There my Lysander and myself shall meet,

218And thence from Athens turn away our eyes

Editor’s Note219To seek new friends and stranger companies.

220Farewell, sweet playfellow. Pray thou for us,

221And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius.—

222Keep word, Lysander. We must starve our sight

Editor’s Note223From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight.


lysander I will, my Hermia.

Exit Hermia

Helena, adieu.

225As you on him, Demetrius dote on you.

Exit Lysander
Editor’s Note226

helena How happy some o'er other some can be!

227Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.

pg 1089 Link 228But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so.

229He will not know what all but he do know.

230And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,

Editor’s Note231So I, admiring of his qualities.

Editor’s Note232Things base and vile, holding no quantity,

233Love can transpose to form and dignity.

Editor’s Note234Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,

235And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

Editor’s Note236Nor hath love's mind of any judgement taste;

Editor’s Note237Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.

238And therefore is love said to be a child:

239Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.

Editor’s Note240As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,

241So the boy Love is perjured everywhere.

Editor’s Note242For ere Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyne

243He hailed down oaths that he was only mine,

244And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,

Editor’s Note245So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.

246I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight.

247Then to the wood will he tomorrow night

Editor’s Note248Pursue her, and for this intelligence

Editor’s Note249If I have thanks it is a dear expense.

250But herein mean I to enrich my pain,

251To have his sight thither and back again.


Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1.0 Enter … with others Stagings almost all convey elegance, wealth, and power (sometimes implied, sometimes brutally explicit).
Editor’s Note
1.4 lingers delays (the fulfilment of)
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1.5–6 a stepdame … revenue a widow, using up the inheritance which will go to her husband's son on her death
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1.7 steep themselves be absorbed
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1.7 Hippolyta She may appear passionately in love, nobly resigned, or resistant, showing distress or unhappiness at her plight as a conquered Amazonian. She might look extremely fit and muscular as a warrior queen would have to be.
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1.15 companion fellow (used contemptuously)
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1.15 pomp ceremony
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1.16–17 wooed … injuries Hippolyta was captured by Theseus in his military conquest of the Amazons.
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1.19 triumph public festivity
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1.19.1 Egeus (pronounced Egee-us, accented on second syllable)
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1.19.1 Lysander … Demetrius The two young men are frequently costumed in a similar fashion—demonstrating that they are alike in nearly every way. But other productions strongly differentiate them.
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1.26 Lysander Lysander might obediently step forward, or he might conspicuously resist the demands of paternal authority (as required by his entire role in the story).
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1.31 feigning desiring; soft; counterfeit
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1.32 stol'n … fantasy secretly and by trickery impressed himself on her imagination
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1.33 gauds trinkets and clever gifts
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1.33 conceits fancy things
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1.34 Knacks knick-knacks
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1.34 nosegays, sweetmeats small bouquets, sugared confections
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1.35 prevailment persuasion
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1.35 unhardened youth an innocent or inexperienced person
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1.39 Be it so if
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1.41 privilege … Athens By Athenian law Egeus, as her father, has total authority over Hermia.
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1.44 to her death Hermia might react with shock, or anger.
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1.45 Immediately directly, without intervention
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1.54 kind respect
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1.54 wanting lacking
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1.54 voice approval, vote
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1.60 concern suit or befit
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1.65 die the death be legally executed
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1.68 Know enquire
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1.68 blood passions, feelings
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1.70 livery habit, uniform
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1.71 for aye forever
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1.71 mewed caged or locked in
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1.73 moon (the emblem of Diana, goddess of chastity)
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1.76 earthlier happy happier on earth
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1.76 distilled made use of. Roses were distilled to make perfumes.
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1.78 single blessedness celibacy. 'Single' also meant 'feeble'.
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1.80 virgin patent privilege of virginity
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1.81 his lordship the authority of him (i.e. Demetrius)
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1.89 protest vow
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1.92 crazèd title flawed, unsound claim
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1.98 estate unto settle, bestow upon, or relinquish
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1.99 well derived well-descended, of good lineage
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1.100 well possessed wealthy
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1.101 as fairly ranked of equal rank
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1.102 with vantage better, superior
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1.105 prosecute pursue
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1.106 to his head swear it to his face
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1.110 spotted stained, polluted, immoral
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1.113 self affairs personal interests
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1.116 schooling advice
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1.117 arm prepare
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1.118 fancies affections
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1.120 extenuate mitigate, lessen
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1.122 what cheer This line calls attention to Hippolyta's emotional state, which may range from acquiescence to overt rejection of what has been happening.
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1.123 go along come along with me
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1.125 Against in preparation for
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1.126 nearly that concerns that closely concerns
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1.127.1 Exeunt … Hermia Theseus might lead Hippolyta and the 'others' in the court offstage with a commanding gesture.
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1.130 Belike probably
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1.131 Beteem allow, afford, give
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1.135 blood birth, rank
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1.137 misgrafted badly matched
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1.139 merit stood the decision about the lover's merits rested
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1.139 friends relatives, parents
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1.145 collied dark (literally, blackened with coal-dust)
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1.146 spleen impulse, fit of anger. The spleen was regarded as the source of violent impulses.
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1.149 quick quickly; vital; lively
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1.153 cross vexation
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1.155 fancy's of sexual attraction, love
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1.156 persuasion principle, doctrine, attitude
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1.159 respects regards
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1.160 remote seven leagues seven leagues (about twenty-one miles) away
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1.164 Steal forth sneak away from
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1.165 without outside
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1.167 do … May mark May-day (by celebrating in the woods, as was English custom)
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1.170 best arrow Cupid's sharp golden arrow was thought to create love; his blunt lead 'birdbolt' caused dislike.
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1.171 simplicity innocence, guilelessness
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1.171 Venus' doves Doves pulled Venus' chariot.
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1.173–4 by that fire … seen Dido, Queen of Carthage burned herself on a funeral pyre when her lover, Aeneas, sailed away.
Editor’s Note
1.179.1 Enter Helena Helena is traditionally cast as a tall blonde, in contrast to Hermia, who is called a 'raven' (4.220) and therefore almost always has black or dark brown hair, and must also be shorter than Helena.
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1.180 fair The dialogue plays on the meanings 'blonde', 'beautiful', 'beauty'.
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1.182 happy fair fortunate beauty
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1.183 lodestars guiding stars (literally, by which to navigate)
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1.183 air melody
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1.184 tuneable musical, melodious
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1.186 favour good looks
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1.187, 188 catch apprehend, acquire as my own (as though by infection)
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1.190 bated excepted
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1.191 translated transformed, changed
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1.193 motion impulses, affection
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1.209 Phoebe the moon
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1.210 visage in the wat'ry glass reflection in a body of water (e.g. a lake or a pond)
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1.211 liquid pearl dew
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1.212 still always
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1.215 faint pale
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1.215 wont accustomed
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1.219 stranger companies the company of strangers
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1.223 lovers' food (the sight of each other)
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1.226 other some some others
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1.231 So I in the same way I also err
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1.232 quantity proportion
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1.234 Love … mind Love is prompted not by the evidence of the senses, but by the fancies of the mind
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1.236 of any judgement taste any hint of rational judgement
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1.237 figure symbolize, represent
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1.240 waggish playful
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1.242 eyne (the old plural of 'eye')
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1.245 dissolved broke faith, melted
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1.248 intelligence information
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1.249 a dear expense price worth paying (the 'expense' being treachery to her friends)
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