lit24 | Student

Nick Bottom the Weaver in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is representative of three important aspects of the comic element in the play.

1. The farcical element: A farce is a combination of ludicrously improbable  plot situations and exaggerated characters resulting in an outrageously comical situation. Act IV Sc.1, when Titania the fairy queen under the influence of the magic potion makes love to Bottom the weaver who has an ass's head covering his face is the quintessential farcical scene. Shakespeare's contemporary audience would have roared with laughter when Titania addressed Bottom,

Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.

2. The rational and the irrational: He links the rational day to day mundane world of ordinary mortals with that of the magical and romantic world of the fairies.  Although, he is the butt of coarse and farcical humor, he and not the pair of lovers personally interact with the fairies who belong to a completely different world. In Act IV Sc.1 we see him lording over the fairy attendants of Titania just like how he was bossing over his worldly companions:

Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your
weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped
humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good
mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret
yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and,
good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not;
I would be loath to have you overflown with a
honey-bag, signior. Where's Mounsieur Mustardseed?

3. Illusion and reality: Bottom performs another significant role in that he unites with grace and sobriety the imaginary dream world of the fairies and the real world of day to day existence. When he is finally relieved of the ass's head in Act IV Sc.1 he remarks sagely:

I have had a most rare
vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to
say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go
about to expound this dream.

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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