In order of appearance within the play:
A mythic demi-god - not seen by other characters, but he is capable of making people fall in love.
The Burning Arrow
Cupid’s ‘messenger of love’ - since she regularly pierces hearts, she knows what people are truly feeling.
A heroic Duke of Athens, engaged to Hippolyta who represents power and order.
Theseus is a hero from Greek mythology; at one point referring to himself as Hercules’ cousin. His presence signals to the reader that the play has links to the mythical Greek past. At the beginning of the play, Theseus has recently returned from conquering the Amazons, a race of warrior women, and is about to marry the conquered Amazonian queen, Hippolyta. Because of this impending wedding, the mood of the play is one of holiday festivity. Theseus himself projects confidence, authority, and benevolent power.
Father of Hermia and a vigorous defender of the patriarchy.
A respected nobleman in Theseus’ court, Egeus complains to Theseus that his daughter, Hermia, refuses to marry Demetrius, Egeus’ choice for her. Egeus’ desire to control his daughter is quite severe as he asks Theseus to impose the death penalty on her if she refuses to marry Demetrius.
Daughter of Egeus, Hermia is a beautiful young woman of Athens, and both Demetrius and Lysander are in love with her. Hermia defies her father’s wish that she marry Demetrius because she is in love with Lysander. She is unusually strong-willed and independent, refusing to comply even when Theseus orders her to obey her father. Her resolution is to flee and elope with Lysander. Hermia is also the childhood friend of Helena.
A young Athenian nobleman, in love with Hermia and supported by Egeus. In the past, Demetrius acted as if he loved Helena, but after Helena fell in love with him, he changed his mind and pursued Hermia. Emboldened by Egeus’s approval of him, Demetrius is undeterred by the fact that Hermia does not want him.
A young Athenian man in love with Hermia and rejected by Egeus. Although Hermia’s father refuses to let her marry Lysander, Lysander believes that love must conquer all obstacles, so he persuades Hermia to run away from her home and family with him, into the forest.
A young Athenian woman, lovesick for Demetrius. Helena has been rejected and abandoned by Demetrius, who had claimed to love her before he met her best friend, Hermia. Consequently, Helena tends to speak in a self-pitying tone. Moreover, she puts herself in dangerous and humiliating situations, running through the forest at night after Demetrius even though Demetrius wants nothing to do with her.
A carpenter and the nominal leader of the craftsmen’s play. Quince is often shoved aside by the abundantly confident Bottom. During the craftsmen’s play, Quince plays the Prologue.
A weaver and an overconfident and incompetent actor who has been chosen to play Pyramus in a play that a group of craftsmen have decided to put on for Theseus’s wedding celebration. Bottom is full of advice and self-confidence but frequently makes silly mistakes and misuses language. His simultaneous nonchalance about the beautiful Titania’s sudden love for him and unawareness of the fact that Puck has transformed his head into that of an ass mark the pinnacle of his foolish arrogance.
A bellows-mender with gender dysphoria. A young modern woman who doesn’t want to play a traditional romantic heroine role.
A tailor - neurotic and misunderstood - who ends up playing the part of Moonshine in the craftsmens' play.
A tinker who is too cool to be interested and ends up playing the part of Wall, dividing the two lovers.
The shy and slow joiner chosen to play the lion in the craftsmens' play, Snug worries that his roaring will frighten the ladies in the audience.
Oberon’s jester, a mischievous shape-shifting sprite. Often referred to as Robin Goodfellow, Puck delights in playing pranks on mortals. His antics are responsible for many of the complications that propel the play. At Oberon’s bidding, Puck sprinkles 'love juice' in the eyes of various characters to change who they love, but he makes mistakes in his application that create conflicts Oberon never intended. Though Puck claims to make these mistakes honestly, he enjoys the conflict and mayhem that his mistakes cause.
The powerful and brooding King of the fairies. Oberon begins the play at odds with his wife, Titania, because she refuses to relinquish control of a young Indian prince whom she has kidnapped, but whom Oberon wants for a knight. Oberon’s desire for revenge on Titania leads him to send Puck to obtain the love-potion flower that creates so much of the play’s confusion and farce.
The beautiful and passionate Queen of the fairies. Titania resists the attempts of her husband, Oberon, to make a knight of the young Indian prince whom she has taken. Until Oberon gives up his demand, Titania has sworn to avoid his company and his bed. She is less upset by the fact that she and Oberon are apart than by the fact that Oberon has been disrupting her and her followers' magic fairy dances.
The legendary Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus. Although Hippolyta is marrying Theseus because he defeated her in combat, she does not act at all like an unwilling bride. Theseus is very courtly in his manner toward Hippolyta, and she is unfailingly deferential toward him.
Theseus’ Master of the Revels.
Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed
Attendant fairies to Titania.