Theseus Duke of Athens, who is marrying Hippolyta as the play begins. He decrees that Hermia must marry Demetrius or be sentenced either to death or to life in a convent. At the end of the play, he insists that all of the lovers marry along with him and Hipployta and provides a humorous commentary to accompany the performance of "Pyramus and Thisbe."
Hippolyta Queen of the Amazons, she is betrothed to Theseus. These two were once enemies, and Theseus won her in battle. In this play, she seems to have lost much of her fighting spirit, though she does not hesitate to voice her opinion, for example, following Theseus' choice of the play "Pyramus and Thisbe."
Lysander Hermia's beloved. Egeus does not approve of Lysander, though we don't know why. Lysander claims to be Demetrius' equal, and the play supports this claim — the differences between the two lovers are negligible, if not nonexistent — yet Egeus insists Hermia marry Demetrius. Rather than lose his lover in this random way, Lysander plans to escape with her to his widowed aunt's home. During a night in the forest, Lysander is mistakenly doused by Puck with Oberon's love juice, causing him to fall briefly in love with Helena. Realizing the mistake, Oberon makes Puck reverse the spell, so by the end of the play, Lysander and Hermia are once again in love and marry.
Demetrius He is in love with Hermia, and her father's choice of a husband for her. Similar to Lysander in most ways, Demetrius' only distinguishing characteristic is his fickleness in love. He once loved Helena but has cruelly abandoned her before the play begins. Not only does he reject Helena's deep love for him, but he vows to hurt, even rape, her if she doesn't leave him alone. With the help of Oberon's love juice, he relinquishes Hermia and marries Helena at the end of the play. Demetrius is the only character who is permanently affected by Oberon's love juice.
Hermia Although she loves Lysander, her father insists she marry Demetrius or be put to death for disobedience of his wishes. Theseus softens this death sentence, declaring that Hermia choose Demetrius, death, or life in a convent. Rather than accept this dire fate, Hermia agrees to run away with Lysander. During the chaotic night in the woods, Hermia is shocked to see her beloved abandon her and declare his love for Helena. She is unaware of the mischief Oberon's love juice is playing with Lysander's vision. By the play's end, Puck has reversed the spell, and Lysander's true love for Hermia has been restored. Despite her father's continued opposition to their union, the two marry with Theseus' blessing.
Helena She is the cruelly abused lover of Demetrius. Before the play begins, he has abandoned her in favor of Hermia. Helena doesn't understand the reason for his switch in affection, because she is as beautiful as Hermia. Desperate to win him back, Helena tries anything, even betraying Hermia, her best childhood friend, by revealing to the jealous Demetrius Lysander and Hermia's plan to escape Athens. With the help of Oberon's love juice, Demetrius finally falls back in love with Helena, and the two are married at the end of the play.
Oberon The King of the Fairies, Oberon is fighting with Titania when the play begins because he wants custody of an Indian boy she is raising. He hatches a plan to win the boy away from her by placing love juice in her eyes. This juice causes her to fall rashly in love with Bottom. During her magic-induced love affair, Oberon convinces her to relinquish the boy, who Oberon will use as a page. Once he has the boy, Oberon releases Titania from her spell, and the two lovers are reunited. Oberon also sympathizes with Helena and has Puck place love juice in Demetrius' eyes so he falls in love with her. After Puck mistakenly anoints Lysander, Oberon insists Puck fix his mistake so that the true lovers are together by the end of the play. In the final scene, he and Titania bless all of the newlyweds.
Titania Oberon's wife, she is Queen of the Fairies. Because of Titania's argument with Oberon, the entire human and natural world is in chaos. Oberon wants the Indian boy she is protecting, but Titania refuses to give him up because when his mother died in childbirth, she agreed to raise the boy. Following Oberon's application of the love juice to her eyes, Titania falls in love with Bottom, and Oberon takes the Indian boy from her. Once he has the boy, Oberon releases the spell, and he and Titania are reunited.
Puck, or Robin Goodfellow Oberon's jester, Puck is responsible for mistakenly anointing Lysander with the love juice intended for Demetrius. Puck enjoys the comedy that ensues when Lysander and Demetrius are both in love with Helena but follows Oberon's orders to reunite the correct lovers. Puck has the final words of the play, emphasizing that the entire play was just a dream.
Nick Bottom A weaver, Bottom plays Pyramus. He is the most outgoing of the group of actors, wishing to play all of the characters in "Pyramus and Thisbe." Puck transforms him into an ass, and Titania falls in love with him. When Puck returns Bottom to his normal self, Bottom can't speak about what happened to him but vows to have Peter Quince write about it in a ballad to be called "Bottom's Dream."
Egeus Hermia's tyrannical father. He capriciously declares that she must marry Demetrius or be put to death for disobedience; according to the law of Athens, daughters must obey their fathers or forfeit their lives. At the end of the play, he is shocked to learn that Lysander and Hermia tried to flee Athens and insists they should be punished. Theseus overrules him, making the lovers marry instead.
Philostrate Theseus' Master of Revels, he arranges the selection of performances for Theseus' wedding. He tries to dissuade the wedding party from choosing "Pyramus and Thisbe" but is overruled by Theseus.
Peter Quince A carpenter and the director of the group of actors who perform "Pyramus and Thisbe," which he has written for the celebration following Theseus and Hippolyta's wedding.
Francis Flute A bellows-mender, Flute plays the role of Thisbe. He is displeased to be given a woman's role because he wants to let his beard grow, but Quince assures him that he can play the part in a mask.
Tom Snout Snout is a tinker and plays the role of Wall in "Pyramus and Thisbe."
Snug A joiner, he plays the lion in "Pyramus and Thisbe."
Robin Starveling A tailor, he represents Moonshine in "Pyramus and Thisbe."
Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed Titania's fairies.