What is the function of the play within a play in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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The Mechanicals’ performance of Pyramus and Thisbe in William Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream serves two primary functions.

The first function of the play within a play is comedic. Bottom is one of the most loved characters in the play for good reason! Watching the bumbling artisans, who believe themselves to be talented actors, trying to string together a coherent performance for the royal wedding is riotously funny. The hyperbolic power struggle between Bottom and Peter Quince leads to increasingly ridiculous suggestions from the amateur cast members. For example, look at this exchange from Act I, as Bottom attempts to persuade his friends that he can play all the characters of Pyramus and Thisbe simultaneously, including a lion.

BOTTOM
Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will
do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar,
that I will make the duke say 'Let him roar again,
let him roar again.

QUINCE
An you should do it too terribly, you would fright
the duchess...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 897 words.)

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