Is Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" evil or just a trickster? Explain.
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I'd say that it depends on how you define things. Okay, that's sort of a wishy washy answer. I'd say that he is, at his heart, "only" a trickster, but that his tricks are so harsh and his powers so great that he works a great deal of evil without caring about it. Don't get me wrong: if being kind to someone would be more entertaining, I think he'd do that…but if hurting someone profoundly would be the bigger laugh, he'd do that. In a story, we can call him a trickster. In real life, he'd be stone cold evil.
Although it could be argued either way, I think Puck fits into the trickster archetype in that he causes trouble that ultimately has positive results.
Puck is simply a mischief-maker who comes off as evil but, in the end, says "Give me hands if we be friends and Robin shall restore amends." This indicates that he (or she in some cases) means well but still loves to make trouble.
I don't think your two definitions need to be mutually exclusive. He can farcical and egotistical, as seen when he introduces himself joyfully to the fairy who recognises him. ' Thou speakest arright! I am that merry wanderer of the night! He craves Oberon's attention and good opinion, boasting that he can 'put a girdle round the earth in thirty minutes. He also rejoices in the frailties of the Athenians, as seen when he says, laughingly and disparagingly, 'lord what fools these mortals be'. However the hedonistic Robin Goodfellow is kind and courteous towards ladies. He hates to see Helena, dishevelled and in disarray 'on the dank and dirty ground'. This is partly his motivation for ensuring that Oberon's commands are carried out. When the latter decres that the spell should be lifted, he is obedient, and finally endears himself to the audience when he asks that they give him their friends. So, evil? No. Mischevious? Certainly!
I believe that puck is just a boy, craving the attention and praise of his "Father Figure" - Oberon. And, with the mistakes of an over eager and inexperienced child he messes things up. But he tries to make up for his mistakes. But he always craves Oberon's attentions and praises, in much the same way as a son does a father.
Puck is not evil; he is merely a trickster, a mischief maker. We know this because Puck has no truly deeply malicious intent. He does things for laughs and nothing more. He also simply does what he is told. Of course, he is liable to make mistakes. In fact, the whole fiasco with Lysander and Demetrius both falling in love with Helena is Puck's mistake, not intent.
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