The scene shifts from the elegant Athenian court to a rustic gathering of common craftsmen who plan to put on a play to entertain the guests at Duke Theseus' wedding. The play they choose, the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisby, is derived from Latin literature (the Metamorphoses by Ovid), but the performers are anything but literary men - as suggested by their names: Snug the Joiner, Quince the Carpenter, Flute the Bellows-Mender, and Snout the Tinker. Chief among these buffoons is Bottom the Weaver, who is assigned to the lead part of Pyramus. A comic swaggerer (not to mention a chronic inventor of oxymorons), Bottom gets carried away during the casting of the play, insisting that he play each part himself. He makes a ridiculous attempt to portray the lady Thisby: "I'll speak in a monstrous little voice: 'Thisne, Thisne!'" he exclaims. He even wishes to act the part of the Lion which will cause the play's tragic end, promising that "I will roar that I will do any man's heart good to hear me. I will roar that I will make the Duke say 'Let him roar again, let him roar again.'" When Peter Quince tells Bottom that such roaring "would fright the Duchess and the ladies," Bottom assures them that "I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove. I will roar you as 'twere any nightingale." Bottom's nonsensical notion of "roaring" like a nightingale, and indeed his belief that he can play every part, indicates not only his own conceit, but also the ways in which these rustic players fail to understand even the basic principles of putting on a play. Nevertheless, after a brief discussion of costumes (Bottom is obsessed with deciding on an appropriate color for his false beard) the players agree to meet in the woods the following night for their first rehearsal. "There," Bottom says in yet another misuse of language, "we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously."
Browse all Studyworld Studynotes|
Points to Ponder
Did You Know