In Athens preparations are under way for the wedding of Duke Theseus and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Egeus, a nobleman, wants his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius, but she refuses because she loves Lysander. Theseus agrees that Hermia must submit to Athenian law and obey her father. Lysander and Hermia plan to escape into the forest and let their friend Helena into the secret. Helena is in love with Demetrius and decides to tell him about the elopement.
Meanwhile a group of Athenian workmen are rehearsing a play to perform as part of the royal wedding celebration. The hero will be played by Nick Bottom, a weaver.
In the forest, a quarrel has arisen between the fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania. Oberon plots with his servant Puck to play a trick on Titania. The juice of a magic flower will make her fall in love with the first creature she sees when she wakes. Oberon overhears Demetrius rejecting the love-sick Helena and instructs Puck to also pour the magic juice onto his eyes so that he will love Helena as she loves him. Puck pours the juice onto Lysander’s eyes by mistake. When he wakes up Lysander sees and falls in love with Helena and abandons Hermia.
The workmen are also in the forest rehearsing their play. Puck turns Bottom into a monster by placing the head of an ass on his shoulders and the charmed Titania falls madly in love with him. Oberon realises that Puck has enchanted the wrong Athenian lover and squeezes the magic juice onto Demetrius’ eyes. Now both men are in love with Helena and hate Hermia. The four lovers quarrel, get lost in the forest and finally all fall asleep exhausted. Puck applies a magic antidote to Lysander’s eyes, so he will love Hermia again when he wakes.
Oberon feels sorry for Titania when he sees her so infatuated with the grotesque Bottom and removes the spell. The fairy king and queen make up their quarrel and disappear into the forest as dawn breaks. Theseus and Hippolyta enter on a hunt. They discover the sleeping lovers, who wake up confused but now happily in love with their appropriate partners. Much to Egeus’ annoyance, Theseus proclaims that the lovers may marry who they wish and all return to the court to prepare for the weddings. Bottom wakes up restored to human form and joins the other workmen for the final play rehearsal.
Back in Athens, Theseus and Hippolyta now happily married muse on the tale told by the lovers of their strange night in the forest. Theseus dismisses it as fancy, but Hippolyta is not so sure. As all the newlyweds gather, Theseus calls for some entertainment and the workmen perform their play with much comic success and some dramatic effect. The humans go to their beds for the night and the fairies take over the court to bless the wedding.