In act 5, scene 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus and Hippolyta are trying to decide on the entertainment after their wedding. After deliberation, Theseus chooses a play that recounts the classic story of Pyramus and Thisbe, which is performed by the uncouth, unpracticed craftsmen/workers.
Bottom plays Pyramus in the play. Pyramus and Thisbe arrange to meet at “Ninny’s tomb,” a bastardized version of Ninus’s tomb in the original story. Arriving before Pyramus, Thisbe encounters a lion that takes her cloak and bloodies it, though she has run away safely. Pyramus, however, only sees the bloody cloak and mistakenly believes that the lion has killed his paramour.
After a melodramatic, humorous monologue, Pyramus (Bottom) stabs himself in the heart. He says, “Thus die I, thus, thus, thus. / Now am I dead. . . . Now die, die, die, die, die” (5.1.284–85, 5.1.290). Like in the more famous Romeo and Juliet—which was based loosely on Pyramus and Thisbe—Pyramus commits suicide because he believes his true love is dead. Although the play follows a tragic plot, the actors’ lack of dramatic skills transforms it into a comedy.