Key extracts and questions designed to give you an insight into the language

The length of these extracts vary, in order to represent the range of extract lengths used by different exam boards at GCSE.

The scenes themselves have been chosen to ensure coverage of: a range of language techniques; different dramatic conventions (form); significant moments to allow for interrogation of structure. Each of them allows for exploration of the various ways that Shakespeare makes meaning, and therefore will support with Assessment Objective 2.

Alongside each extract, you will find a series of questions that you can use in class or as part of a homework activity. Each set of questions has a symbol, which you will find within the extract. Match up the two to gain more insight into the text and answer the questions.

As the weeks progress, more extracts will be added. Keep checking back to see what is new!



Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of the Fairies meet and they argue over their loyalty and love to each other; Titania accuses him of loving Hippolyta and Oberon accuses Titania of loving Theseus. Titania launches into a speech about how jealousy is the ruin of relationships.

Answer the following questions before you read the scene:

Do you think jealousy in a relationship is a good or bad thing? Explain

How do people show jealousy in a relationship?

What colour is most associated with jealousy and what else is that colour also normally associated with?


Enter the King of Fairies OBERON at one door with his Train, and the Queen TITANIA at another with hers.


Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.60


What, jealous Oberon? Fairies, skip hence—61

I have forsworn his bed and company.62


Tarry, rash wanton! Am not I thy lord?63

In line 63, which literary technique does Oberon use to keep Titania to stay?

What does Oberon’s use of ‘thy Lord’ imply about Oberon’s status and how he expects Titania to behave towards him?

How does this show how women were viewed in the Elizabethan era and how where they meant to behave towards their men?


How does this link with Egeus’ and Theseus’ view of male and female relationships in Act 1 Scene 1?


Then I must be thy lady; but I know64 

When thou hast stolen away from fairy land,65 

And in the shape of Corin sat all day,66 

Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love,67 

To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here68 

Come from the farthest steep of India?69 

But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,70 

Your buskin’d mistress, and your warrior love,71 

To Theseus must be wedded, and you come72 

To give their bed joy and prosperity.73 

Is Titania’s reaction what we expect of an Elizabethan female? Explain

What does Titania accuse Oberon of? Who does she believe his mistress is?

‘Based on this extract, what do you think Titania’s emotions in the scene might be?


How canst thou thus for shame, Titania,74 

Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,75 

Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?76 

Didst not thou lead him through the glimmering night77 

From Perigenia, whom he ravished?78 

And make him with fair Aegles break his faith,79 

With Ariadne, and Antiopa?80 

What does Oberon accuse Titania of and what emotion is he displaying?

Research the women that Oberon links to Theseus? Where are they from, and how does this link to the text?

How did Theseus treat these women?


In Line 75, ‘Shakespeare uses the term credit to mean “good name” or “reputation.” Today, credit can be used to refer to “money owed” or “things obtained before you’ve paid for them.” Using the facts and the text, how might a modern reading of the word credit be a good metaphor for Elizabethan marriages and relationships?

Based on this dialogue; what do you think will happen between Oberon and Titania?

Look at the following image from nature and in no more than two words describe how they make you feel and what season you could expect to see them in?


These are the forgeries of jealousy;81 

And never, since the middle summer’s spring,82 

Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,83 

By paved fountain or by rushy brook,84 

Or in the beached margent of the sea,85 

To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,86 

But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport.87 

Can we explain the meaning behind each technique and the effect?

  1. What has stopped Titania’s normal practice of dancing with her fairies?
  1. Which element provides the music for the fairies’ dance?

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,88 

As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea89 

Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land,90 

Hath every pelting river made so proud91 

That they have overborne their continents.92 

What has been the consequence of Titania and her fairies not performing their usual ritual?

What image does ‘contagious fogs’ conjure in the reader’s mind?

Which natural disaster is conveyed with the metaphor ‘overborne the continents.’

The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain,93 

The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn94 

Hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard.95 

The fold stands empty in the drowned field,96 

And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;97 

The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud,98 

And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,99 

For lack of tread, are undistinguishable.100 

With the fairies unable to perform their usual ritual, how have farmers, their cattle and their crops been affected? Make a list. 

 The human mortals want their winter here;101 

No night is now with hymn or carol blest.102 

Therefore, the moon (the governess of floods),103 

Pale in her anger, washes all the air,104 

That rheumatic diseases do abound.105 

What do humans miss about the winter?

Why is the moon angry and what punishment does she bring to the humans due to her anger?

What literary technique is used to express the moon’s anger?

And thorough this distemperature, we see106 

The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts107 

Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,108 

And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown109 

An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds110 

Is, as in mockery, set; the spring, the summer,111 

The childing autumn, angry winter, change112 

Their wonted liveries; and the mazed world,113 

By their increase, now knows not which is which.114 

What strange event has occurred in summer? What imagery has been used to allow the audience to visualise this?

Find an image of Old Hiem’s and explain what he personifies?

What has happened to the four seasons?

And this same progeny of evils comes115 

From our debate, from our dissension;116 

We are their parents and original.117 

Who does Titania blame for this change in seasons?

In line 117, Shakespeare draws a parallel between climate change and religion with the Biblical allusion to Adam and Eve, what point might Shakespeare be trying to make?



How does Titania monologue explore the nature of love and the nature of the seasons?

  • You must comment on techniques used by the writer and their effect
  • Write two to three detailed paragraphs
  • Make clear the writer’s viewpoint on love and how the seasons work


Act 3 Scene 2


Both Lysander and Demetrius declare their love for Helena. Helena doesn’t understand why they are doing this, especially after both were pursuing Hermia relentlessly. She feels they are mocking her and now on top of this she feels Hermia is joining in with this mockery.

How would you feel if a best friend or a close friend, made fun of you? Explain your answer.

Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three
To fashion this false sport, in spite of me. 

At the beginning of this monologue, who does Helena think Hermia has joined in mocking her? What reaction do you expect the audience to have, as they know this is not the case? 

Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!
Have you conspired, have you with these contrived
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us,–O, is it all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?

Shakespeare uses several rhetorical questions during Helena’s speech?  What is the effect of these? 

How many times is the word ‘one repeated’? What is Helena trying to emphasise? 

She said they both sang in ‘one key’ what does this reveal about Helena’s perception of their taste, thinking and relationship? 

So we grow together, 
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted, 
But yet an union in partition; 
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem; 
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart; 
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry, 
Due but to one and crowned with one crest. 

Why is the simile of a double cherry a good image for Helena and Hermia’s friendship? 

Explain how the contrast ‘an union in partition’ further emphasises how Helena feels Hermia should be behaving and responding when apart? 

And will you rent our ancient love asunder, 
To join with men in scorning your poor friend? 
It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly: 
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it, 
Though I alone do feel the injury. 

What is Helena emphasising with the phrase ‘ancient love?’  

 Who would ‘tell off’ Hermia for what she has done apart from Helena?  Do you think women should stick together? Explain your answer 

How does the monologue make you feel towards Helena?