What trick does Puck play on Bottom in Act 3, Scene 1 of "A Midsummer Night's Dream"?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In Act 3, sc. 1, Puck (Robin Goodfellow) decides, when he watches the tradesmen and Bottom practicing their play, that they are foolish and Bottom is especially a fool.  Puck calls them "...hempen homespuns..." and says that they are "...swaggering...".  Essentially, he says they are country hicks and that Bottom acts like an ass.  Puck decides then to play a trick on Bottom.  He turns Bottom's head into the head of a donkey - an ass.  Bottom does not realize he has the head of an ass and when the others see him then flee in terror, he is perplexed as to why they fled.  Puck thinks it is very funny, but he is an ornery sprite and when Titania sees Bottom first upon waking and falls in love with him, ass-head and all, Puck finds it even funnier.  Bottom's transformation is fitting his character because he is a buffoon who acts like an ass. He thinks he is the best actor among the tradesmen and he would like to play all the parts because he thinks no one can play them as well as he can.  In truth, he is a very bad actor.  Even in Shakespeare's day, over-acting was considered bad acting and that's one of Bottom's most notable bad features as an actor.

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