The New International Encyclopædia/Midsummer Night's Dream< The New International Encyclopædia
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, A. A comedy by Shakespeare, written about 1595, printed in 1600, when two editions appeared, by Thomas Fisher and by James Roberts, the latter being used for the folio reprint. It is evidently a masque or festival play, and is a jumble of classic, mediæval, and fairy lore. The parts of Theseus and Hippolyta may have been taken from Chaucer's “Knight's Tale,” but more probably from North's translations of Plutarch's “Theseus” (1579). Pyranms and Thisbe, drawn from Ovid's Metamorphoses, may have come through Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, or was based on Robinson's Handfull of Pleasant Delights. Oberon, originating in the French Huon of Bordeaux in the Charlemagne cycle, is found in Greene's James IV. (1590). Titania, without the name, can be traced to Chaucer's “Wife of Bath's Tale.” Puck is the Robin Goodfellow of old English folk-lore. The rest of the fairy scenery is Shakespeare's own, except for a slight debt to John Lyly.