Puck vs. Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

Puck is a sprite who adores causing trouble. Bottom is a player who has a very high opinion of himself. The two cross paths when Puck, ordered by the king of the fairies, has to play a cruel trick on a lovely fairy queen.

Puck and Bottom on a Collision Course

Have you ever had a dream so realistic you thought you were awake? This is how Bottom feels at the conclusion of his time in the forest, once he is released from the enchantment Puck set on him in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This lesson will focus on the characters of Puck and Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Puck, a Mischievous Spirit

The character of Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, is one of Shakespeare's most memorable. He is a fairy servant of Oberon, King of the Fairies. A faithful servant to his master, Puck will do what Oberon asks.

The Merry Wanderer of the Night
The Merry Wanderer of the Night

Puck loves causing mischief more than anything else. A self-proclaimed 'Merry wanderer of the night,' Puck enjoys playing tricks, such as pretending to be a horse, crab, or stool. Puck has quite a reputation for this, and he gleefully admits this whenever someone will listen.

So when Oberon needs some mischief to get revenge on his wife, Queen Titania, he turns to Puck. Oberon asks Puck to use the juice of a magic flower to make Titania fall in love with the first creature she sees. Puck is asked to get the flower, and this is where Bottom enters the action.

Oberon asks Puck to help him play a trick on Titania
Oberon asks Puck to help him play a trick on Titania

Bottom, a Mechanical and Player

Bottom is a weaver, but in his spare time he's also part of an actor's troupe. Since the call has gone out for performers at the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens, the actors have been practicing a play called Pyramus and Thisbe, a tragedy of two star-crossed lovers.

Bottom loves the spotlight. As Peter Quince, the head of the troupe, is giving out the parts in their upcoming play, Bottom constantly interrupts. Even though he has the lead role of Pyramus, he feels like he should play all the parts. He says how he could do each, until the other actors are all annoyed with him.

Puck vs. Bottom

Bottom is practicing his lines in the forest when he runs afoul of Puck's mischief. Oberon has decided to place the love-drops into Titania's eyes, and Puck places a spell on Bottom, turning his head into that of a donkey. Bottom, it is important to note, never realizes he is under an enchantment, making for some pretty funny, ironic situations.

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