What are the character traits of the mechanicals, such as Robin Starveling, in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream ?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Character traits are the descriptive words we use to talk about a person's or character's personality. Analyzing the author's characterization of the character can help the reader identify the character traits. Characterization is more than just descriptions of how a character looks. Characterization can be identified in things the characters say, do, and also in other characters' reactions to the character in question.

Robin Starveling, the tailor who is assigned the role of playing Thisbe's mother and also plays the moon in the final scene, does not have a whole lot of lines. From this we can deduce that he is not one of the more aggressive, outspoken characters, like Bottom, or a leader like Quince. Instead, we can say that one of his character traits is that he is an introvert, quiet, and possibly even pensive. Later, in Act 3, Scene 1, we see him express his opinion that they should leave out the part in which Pyramus slays himself as he fears it would be offensive, especially to the ladies, as we see in his line, "I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is done" (III.i.13-14). The irony is that they are performing a tragedy and Pyramus's suicide is a central point that makes it a tragedy. The fact that Starveling finds a suicide scene offensive shows us a second character trait of his, he has a very sensitive nature. Also, the fact that he voiced his opinion shows us that, even though he may be an introvert, he is not afraid to voice his opinion when he feels his point is morally right. We further see Starveling's sensitivity, or even cowardice, portrayed when Snout asks if the lion's part is too scary to be played, and Starveling replies, "I fear it, I promise you" (26).

Hence, some of the things we can see of Starveling's character traits is that he is a pensive introvert, has a morally upright mind, is sensitive, and also cowardly. 


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