How would you describe the character of Puck as he is portrayed in the first scene of Act II of A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Puck is probably one of the most memorable Shakespearean characters of all time, so it's worth analyzing his entrance in Act 2, Scene 1. One of the best insights into Puck's character comes in the form of the following quote at the beginning of the scene:

I am that merry wanderer of the night.

I jest to Oberon, and make him smile

When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,

Neighing in likeness of a filly foal;

And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl

In very likeness of a roasted crab,

And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob,

And on her withered dewlap pour the ale. (43-50)

Puck's humorous description of himself in Act 2, Scene 1 provides a valuable insight into his portrayal as a whole. Overall, he is portrayed as a mischievous prankster, one who delights in amusing his lord, Oberon, and playing tricks on unsuspecting mortals. This characterization is important in the context of the rest of the play, as Puck's mischievous, mirth-loving personality is ultimately responsible for the convoluted (but still hilarious) relationship dynamics amongst the Athenians.

However, though he's fond of pranks, it's important to note that Puck is not ill-spirited or evil; rather, he's a good-natured jokester who loves to jest but does not ever cause serious harm. Puck's portrayal in the first scene of Act 2 suggests this important distinction, as his mischievousness is always shown in a cheery and benevolent light.  

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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