What are some literary devices used in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream from Act 1, Scene 2?

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Quince, the play's director, says that they are going to act "The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe ," but how can a comedy be lamentable, and, moreover, how could a tale of two horrible deaths be funny? At the very least, "lamentable comedy" is...

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Quince, the play's director, says that they are going to act "The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe," but how can a comedy be lamentable, and, moreover, how could a tale of two horrible deaths be funny? At the very least, "lamentable comedy" is an oxymoron, a combination of two words that are either incongruous or opposite. It sounds totally ridiculous here, and Quince is completely unaware of the fact.

To further confuse matters, Bottom then says that it is a "merry" work. Next, he tells the actors to "spread [them]selves" around Quince to hear the parts, but what he really means is that they should gather around, coming closer, not spreading out or getting farther away: this is a malapropism.

Bottom employs hyperbole, or an exaggeration of the truth to draw attention to some truth, when he says that his emotional performance "will move storms." He means that he will make the audience cry a great deal.

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Act 1, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is the first time the audience meets the group of players who will perform on Theseus's wedding day. Bottom is the eccentric one who thinks he is better than the other actors and tends to boss around the director, Quince. Ironically, he proves himself to be the fool by making countless mistakes--many of which are embedded in literary devices. The literary devices that are used in this scene include malapropisms, allusions, rhymes and double-entendres. 

First, Bottom has a habit of unintentionally substituting one word for another when he is speaking. When he says one word in place of another, it is the use of a malapropism. The following is an example:

"You were best to call them generally, man by man,

according to the scrip" (I.ii.2-3).

When Bottom says "generally" he really means "individually"; and, when he says "scrip" he forgets the "t". This is a comedic device, but it also shows the audience that he's not as smart as he thinks he is.

The next device is when Bottom makes a reference, or allusion, to Greek characters, such as Hercules. In the process, however, he also includes a malapropism, as shown below:

". . . --Yet

my chief humour is for a tyrant. I could play Ercles

rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split" (I.ii.21-23).

Note that he substitutes the word "Ercles" for Hercules while making the allusion to the Greek hero.

The next device is the use of rhymes in the poem Bottom recites to show his talents. It's as if he is making up the bad poem on the spot, though, because his rhymes are monosyllabic and simple. He merely rhymes the following: rocks, shocks, locks, gates, car, far, Fates, but he does manage to create and follow a consistent rhyme scheme, which is interesting. And again, he references the Fates which alludes to Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, the goddesses who determine the fate of humans.

Finally, a double-entendre, (words that could have double meanings) is found near the end when Quince says the following:

"Some of your French crowns have not hair at all, and then you will play barefac'd" (I.ii.80-81).

The players are discussing types of beards and Quince responds with the above quote. The first double-entendre is "French crowns" which could refer to both "heads" or the French coin. The second one is a reference to "hair," which refers to the actors' hair, but also alludes to the belief that Syphilis caused baldness, which at the time, was very common among the French.

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