A Midsummer Nights Dream, one of Shakespeare great works, is a play that seeks to address different grave societal issues with the use of humour. Shakespeare touches on different themes, though in a sarcastic, humorous and hidden manner. The comedy play depicts themes of love, problem with time, loss of individual identity, appearance versus reality, transformation amongst others. Nick Bottom, one of the Mechanicals, is the majorly used character to portray these themes in the play as he appears in almost all scenes of the play alongside other characters of the play. Nick Bottom is used diversely in the play, not only to develop the play but also as weaver of two different worlds making the play a success.
Firstly, it is crucial to describe the character Bottom. He is Athenian craftsman (a weaver by profession), also known as the Mechanicals. It is ironic that he becomes a weaver of two world, the fairy world (the world of irrationality) and Athens (the logical side). He achieves this by featuring on both worlds. Bottom is an Athenian who belongs to the logical side. When his head is turned into that of donkey by Puck, the fairy, Titania falls in love with him; he is seen interacting with the fairies freely. Other characters such as Puck feature on both world, but Puck does his magic in secret without humans seeing him. However, Bottom is seen both by the fairies and the Athenians.
The theme of love is also enhanced by the character. It is through Bottom that the nature of love is seen; love is difficult and irrational. Oberon, enchants Titania with the magic juice due to unexplained jealousy and utters during the enchantment, Wake when the vilest thing is near. When Puck turns Bottoms head to that of an ass, his fellow actors run away from him, and he thinks they are playing a prank on him. Bottom decides to stay in the forest alone and sings out loudly awakening the fairy queen Titania. Due to the enchantment Oberon cast on her, she falls in love with Bottom despite the fact that he has the head of a donkey. When Puck returns Bottoms head to human state, the fairies leave him in the woods and he wakes thinking that it was all a dream. These shows the irrationality of love. In the play within a play Pyramus and Thsibe, he mocks love when he say let the audience look to their eyes. This statements simply means that people dont use their mind when they fall in love. Love is depicted as an emotion that is based on superficiality, hence it is irrational. Bottom himself doesnt believe in love. At one instance he says, Reason and love keep little company
Puck changing Bottoms head into that of donkey brings out the theme of transformation. His transformation is also aids in talking about sexuality in the play; especially bestiality. When Titania falls in love with Bottom after his transformation, this shows bestiality; something that was highly revoked during Shakespeares time. Apart from bestiality, there is also see a relationship between a commoner (Bottom) and royalty (Titania); another thing that was not approved during Shakespeares time.
When Titania falls in love with Bottom, their relationship seems primarily sexual, however it may be alluded to that of a mother-child relationship. Under Oberons enchantment, the fairy queen takes care of Bottom, spending all her time around her. He becomes a replacement for the boy who Oberon has taken away from her.
Apart from enhancing themes, Bottom has also been used to enhance styles of writing such as play within a play, comical humour, irony and sarcasm. In the play within a play, Pyramus and Thsibe, we see Bottom volunteering to act every part of the play. It is also in Pyramus and Thsibe that we see comical humour as Bottom makes an idiot of himself. Sarcasm and irony become evident in different parts of the play such as when Puck turns Bottoms head into that of a donkey and his friends run away, Bottom says that they are trying to make an ass out of him.
Shakespeare portrays Nick Bottom as a man of many talents yet foolish. However, these characteristics are evidently fundamental in bringing out the different themes of the play. Nick Bottom character helps us to see that theres a difference between what appears to be real and what is real, the irrationality of love and the bridge between two different societies or worlds. Surely, this is a masterpiece of Shakespeares work
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