A Midsummer Night’s Dream

a midsummer night's dream“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works. Although some people claim that it has too much adult and/or , I don’t share this view. It is a wonderful which looks at the difficulty of love and the difference between appearance and reality. Note that our story only includes the main . We haven’t included the “play within the play” by the six actors from Athens. This is not important to the main story, and needs to be seen acted out (badly, as in the play) in order to how funny it is.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Simplified English story which are not in our Pre-Intermediate Level 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

An interesting footnote to the story is that A Midsummer Night’s Dream appears to be the first ever English story where fairies are presented in the modern “Walt Disney” style as tiny, butterfly-winged people living in the woods (and in the case of Titania, small enough to sleep in a snake skin). However, unlike Tinkerbell and her friends, Shakespeare’s fairies also have the traditional fairytale quality of being able to change their shape or size when they communicate with humans. In the play we hear Oberon and Titania talking about having made love with Hippolyta and the Duke, and later see Titania trying hard to make poor Bottom her lover!

beautiful stories from shakespeareOur source for this story was not the original play. To prepare a Simplified English narrative from this would take us much longer than a normal story. Instead, we started from a story in a book called “Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare” by Edith Nesbit. This was written over 100 years ago to introduce young children to Shakespeare’s work. Although said to be written for children under 10 years of age, some of the vocabulary is quite advanced. The book was first published in 1907 – before TV or even radio! In those days, reading for enjoyment (and parents taking the time to read to their children) was much more common than now. Shakespeare enthusiasts will see that some parts of Nesbit’s stories are a little different to the originals. This is because she changed the plot in some cases to make the stories suitable for young children. You can get e-book versions of the complete book from Project Gutenberg here. If you would like to read and listen, there is an audiobook available on LibriVox here.

Very advanced learners might be interested in another book called “Tales from Shakespeare”. Written over two hundred years ago by brother and sister team Charles and Mary Lamb, this book was aimed at older children. The Project Gutenberg e-book link is here, and the Librivox audiobook is available here.

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(adj: immoral) Not morally good or right; morally evil or wrong. 6000
The prefix 'im' often means 'not' or 'the opposite of' the word that comes after it. The word moral is concerned with the principles of right and wrong. A moral person is someone who always does what they believe to be the right thing to do. An immoral person does things that they know to be wrong.

(n) The ideas, facts, or images that are in a book, article, speech, movie, etc. 2000

comedy(n: comedy pl comedies) A play, movie, television program, etc., that is meant to make people laugh. 3000

(n: plot pl plots) The series of events that form the story in a movie, novel, play, etc. 3000

(v: appreciate, appreciates, appreciated, appreciating) 1. To be grateful or thankful for something. 2. To value someone or something highly. 3. To understand or be aware of something. 4. To increase in value. 2000

angel(n: angel pl angels) 1. A messenger or attendant of God. 2. A person (such as a child) who is very good, kind, beautiful, etc. Your son is such an angel! Be an angel and get me a cup of tea, would you?
(adj: angelic) Like an angel. 4000

barber(n: barber pl barbers) A person whose job it is to cut men's hair, shave their beards etc. 6000

butter(n: butter, noncount) A soft, yellow substance made from milk or cream that is spread on food or used in cooking. 2000

cheek(n: cheek pl cheeks) One of the parts of the face below each eye and to the side of the nose and mouth. 3000

cream(n: cream, noncount) The thick part of milk that rises to the top, from which butter and cheese are made. 2000

creature(n: creature pl creatures) A living being; an animal of any type, especially a non-human. 4000

delicious(adj: delicious) Having a very nice taste or smell. 6000

(adj: desirable) Having good or pleasing qualities. 2. Worth having, getting or doing. 2000

donkey(n: donkey pl donkeys) An animal that is like a small horse with large ears, commonly used for carrying things. 5000

(n: Duke pl Dukes) An old royal title given to a European nobleman of the highest rank who is the ruler of part of a country. 3000

fairy(n: fairy pl fairies) An imaginary creature having magical powers. 4000
In early literature, fairies could change themselves into any form. Thanks to Walt Disney, most people today think that they all look like the picture on the left.

fog(n: fog, noncount) Many small drops of water floating in the air above the ground, sea, etc. which make it difficult to see. 4000

hay(n: hay, noncount) Grass or other plants, cut and dried for use as food for farm animals etc. 3000

jealous(adj: jealous) 1. Feeling or showing that you want to be like another person or have something that another person has; envy. 2. Feeling or showing unhappiness or anger because you think that someone you love [such as your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.] likes or is liked by someone else. 4000

joke(n: joke pl jokes) Something said or done to cause laughter. She meant it as a joke, but some people took her seriously. I heard a funny joke yesterday. 2000

memory(n: memory pl memories) Something from the past that is remembered. 2000

mistake(n: mistake pl mistakes) Something that is not correct; a wrong action, statement, or judgment; an error.
(adj: mistaken) Not correct; incorrect or wrong. I may be mistaken, but I think we've met before. 2000

oats(n: oats, plural) The seeds of the oat plant used as feed for farm animals and in foods [such as bread and oatmeal] for people. 7000

patience(n: patience, noncount) 1. The quality of being patient. Able to: (i) wait for a long time without becoming annoyed or upset; (ii) stay calm when dealing with problems or difficult people; (iii) give attention to something for a long time. 2. The British name for a card game played by one person, also called Solitaire. 2000

(adj: private) For the use of a single person or group; belonging to one person or group; not public. 1000

proud(adj: proud, prouder, proudest) 1. Feeling very pleased because of something you have done or own, someone you know, etc. She felt proud as she watched her daughter graduate. 2. Having a too high opinion of oneself; arrogant. She was too proud to talk to us. 2000
(n: pride, noncount) A feeling of pleasure and satisfaction at one's achievements, possessions, family etc. She watched with pride as her daughter graduated. 3000

scratch(n: scratch pl scratches) A shallow and narrow cut in the skin or a surface caused by something sharp.
(v: scratch, scratches, scratched, scratching) 1. To make a line in a surface or object by rubbing or cutting it with a sharp point. 2. To rub your skin with something sharp to stop an itch. 3000

(v: tease, teases, teased, teasing) 1. To annoy or bother (a person or animal) on purpose. (หยอกล้อ) 2. To laugh at or criticize (someone) in a way that is either friendly and playful or cruel and unkind. (หยอกเย้า) 3. To make (someone) feel excited or interested about something you might do or say without actually doing it or saying it. (ยั่วเย้า) (n) A woman who uses her sex appeal to take advantage of men. (ผู้หญิงที่ยั่วยวนผู้ชาย) 3000

trust(v: trust, trusts, trusted, trusting) To believe that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc; to have confidence or faith in (someone or something).
(n: trust, noncount) Belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. 1000

wedding(n: wedding pl weddings) The act of getting married; marrying. (การแต่งงาน) 2000

wise(adj: wise, wiser, wisest) Having gained a lot of knowledge from books or experience or both and able to use it well. (ฉลาด)
(n: wisdom; noncount) 1. The knowledge gained from books or experience. 2. The quality or state of being wise. (ปัญญา; สติปัญญา) 2000

This long (142 minute) Academy Award winning movie featured many famous actors of the time. These were the days when movies began with an overture, and this and much of the other music in the movie come from Felix Mendelssohn’s Op. 61, which was written in 1842 especially for the play. We only stream videos of less 30 minutes on our website. To download the mp4, click here.
A not too serious 25 minute animated version of the story, produced as part of a project to introduce British children to Shakespeare for the first time. To watch online, click here. To download the mp4, click here.

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