Essay Example on The Role of Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  895 Words
Date:  2021-03-05


In Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's, the role of Bottom involves dancing, laughter and singing. From the moment the character is first introduced, he is presented as a courageous and outgoing person. His confidence is demonstrated in his ability to play any roles in "Pyramus and Thisbe." For example, he states that his acting of Pyramus will cause the audience to have storm load of tears. However, the audience realizes that this confidence is misplaced, and Bottom is just a swaggering foolish made apparent by Pucks prank.

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Hilarity and Overt Humor: Bottom's Introduction

The audience instantly recognizes that Shakespeares portrayal of Nick Bottoms character is hilariously overt. Bottoms line, and I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too. Ill speak in a monstrous little voice: Thisne, Thisne! Bottom interrupts Peter Quince, then says, And I may hide my face showing how humorous Bottom and is very eager that he cannot wait and interrupts to show how eager he is to play all characters. Nick Bottom after saying this first word is portrayed as having burst out quickly into the center with his arms open because he wants all the attention, as he is this type of character. By having his arms open, he blocks the audience from seeing the rest of the characters to show how he does not care how ridiculous he looks when hes trying to be really hilarious.

Bottom as the Butt of the Joke and Symbol of Transformation

Bottom's language adds to the comical appeal of the character. For example, he claims that when performing the role of Thisbe, he would say her lines in a "monstrous little voice," which is obviously a contradictory statement. Then if he played the lion's role, he would "aggravate" his voice so not to frighten the ladies in the audience. Bottom's choice of words shows his ridiculousness, while at the same time adding a comic element to the play. In addition, instead of worrying about his acting performance, Bottom is concerned about the beard that would be most effective for the role of Pyramus.

Despite being portrayed as a traditional Shakespearean clown and being the locus of comedy in the play, Bottom also draws the attention of audience to serious themes. During the play rehearsal, Bottom's head is transformed (by Puck) into that of an "ass" (donkey). This makes Bottom the butt of the play's biggest joke where Puck declares that his friends have do not want to associate with him because they are trying to "make an ass" out of him (Shakespeare 122). This is a case of dramatic irony talked about more in symbolism, allegory and imagery. Besides the irony, Bottom's conversion is instrumental to the play's theme of transformation.

Bottom presents the theme of relationship between reality and imagination. This can be seen when while preparing for "Pyramus and Thisbe" performance, Bottom is continually drawing his fellow players' attention back and forth to the question of the audience's trustfulness.

For example he wonders whether the ladies would be upset when Pyramus kills himself. He is also concerned whether they will realize that the lion is not a real lion but an actor.

Relationship between Reality and Imagination: Bottom's Reflections

To remedy the first problem, he asks Quince to compose a prologue, explaining that Pyramus is not dead for real, and that in fact he is not Pyramus but Bottom the weaver. In this instance, he prompts the audience to focus on the difficulty of differentiating between reality and perception. His solution is a good suggestion of his belief that actors would be too convincing and fully realize the goal of theater. Similarly, to prevent ladies from being afraid of the lion, here commends the actor taking that role to show half of his face and explain that he is indeed a man and not an animal. His solutions for bringing moonshine and creating a wall into the makes him believe that covering a man with plaster and loam would sufficiently convince the audience.

Bottom is thus Shakespeare's gentle jibe portrayed as an important character for opening some modest doors to reflect between the real art and artistry of the theater. Some of the most bizarre lines from Pyramus and Thisbe come close to lines that are being performed in simple country versions plays and children's plays. Another purpose of Bottom in the play is that he is a "Weaver" of different worlds. Being the only character that mingles openly and freely among the humans and the fairies, Bottom showcases a balance between the two worlds perfectly. Bottom is cavorting with the fairies easily and is never really worried about the fact that Titanics love for him is totally inappropriate. At one point, he admits that it does not make sense for Titania to love him but shrugs it by saying that "reason and love keep little company" (Shakespeare 145).


Bottom unconsciously makes idiot of himself by expressing a lot of confidence on the wrong things and being ever-willing to offer explanations to others as if they were the ones that were out of their mind. Besides, Bottom's idiocy being almost charmingly innocent, it doesn't seem that Shakespeare was being malicious by creating a working-class character who is also a bona fide taunt. Instead, Bottom is an important character in the play that opens up some self-deprecatory doors to reflect about the real art and artistry in theater.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William, and R A. Foakes. A Midsummer Night's Dream. Cambridge [Cambridge shire: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Print.

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Essay Example on The Role of Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. (2021, Mar 05). Retrieved from

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