Who is the protagonist in A Midsummer Night's Dream?
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Hmmmmm....tough one in this play. Puck is most certainly the central character, but labeling him as the lone protagonist in this play could be difficult. If I had to select just one character, though, I would also choose Puck. He's the only character that directly has his hands in every plot line. His role as the central character means that his actions are directly involved in the rising action, conflict, falling action and resolution of the play. In his case, he manages to be involved in the action of the four lovers, Bottom and the actors, and the argument for the Indian boy.
If you wanted to get a bit creative, you could potentially say that there is no one protagonist in the play, and focus on some of the couples and how their relationships form the interecting narratives which give the play its plot.
Or, you could be even more bold and say that the lyrical language is the true protagonist-- it's the most interest part of the play, and what makes it worth watching! Many critics say that Midsummer has the least three-dimensional characters of any Shakespeare play, combined with the greatest emphasis on language.
This is a little bit of a tough question. The tough part is that there are 3 stories (Lovers,Mechanicals,Fairies) interwoven with eachother and they all have a protagonist. It would have to entirely disagree with the notion that Puck is a protagonist of any kind. He is not the main character in any of the three stories. This play is not about him. However he is the LINK between all three stories, thus making him a central character.
In the lover's story, I'd say that Lysander/Hermia share the protagonist's role. It can be argued that it's either one of them. Lysander and Hermia want eachother, but Demetrius, Egeus and the laws of Athens stand in their way (their antagonists). Demetrius would be the main antagonist in that story, since he stands in the way of what Lysander and Hermia want. Puck is the one who tries to correct this by Oberon's orders. He messes it up at first but enjoys watching them fight.
Oberon is the Protagonist in the Fairies' story. He and Titania are fighting over the right to a child that Titania has. The story is mostly about Oberon's plan to put Titania under a love spell (w/ Puck's help) so that she'll forget about the child and Oberon can have it.
The Mechanicals have a little different kind of story but their plot features Bottom. He is the lead actor of the troupe, and we follow his journey of rehearsing to being transformed into a donkey, his affair with Titania, and then coming back to his fellow actors and playning the play.
Shrewd, kind Bottom is the protagonist, according to Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, p. 150, who calls him "unfazed and immutable." By definition, the protagonist is the central character, "the one whose struggles we follow with interest" (Laurence Perrine, Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, p. 42). We follow Bottom's adventures as an actor and a man with more interest than we do with any other character. He exuberantly volunteers to take on three parts in the play-within-a-play (Pyramus, Thisbe, and the Lion). He isn't perturbed by his transformation into a creature with the head of a donkey. He alone talks with the fairies, charming them and being charmed by them. He becomes the adored beloved of the beautiful Titania, Queen of the Fairies. But none of the ups and downs change his inner nature. For him alone, there is no "discord or confusion in the overlapping realms of the Dream" (Bloom, p. 151).
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