o.... in the town of Athens the Duke Theseus has just conquered the country of Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, and he now intends to marry her. As they are discussing the situation, Egeus, an Athenian citizen, breaks in with three young people in tow. Egeus has committed his daughter, Hermia, to an arranged marriage with Demetrius, the young man of his choice, but she is in love with another man, Lysander. Egeus brings Hermia before the duke in hopes that the duke will break her defiance. Theseus tells her that before his wedding to Hippolyta Hermia must choose between marrying Demetrius and becoming a nun.


Theseus leaves with everyone in tow -- except Hermia and Lysander. Left alone, the lovers pledge their devotion and agree to elope that night. As they are about to part, Helena, Hermia's best friend blunders in. Demetrius was her fiancee before he began to pursue Hermia, and she is still madly in love with him. Hermia and Lysander confide in her and part -- until that night. Desperate to win Demetrius' favour, Helena determines to tell him that Hermia is abandoning him and eloping with Lysander.