In A Midsummer Night's Dream, why does Nick Bottom want to play all the parts?

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Payal Khullar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 1 Scene 2 of the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, we see that there is a group of craftsmen who are preparing to enact the tragic story of Pyramus and Thisbe at the marriage function of Theseus and Hippolyta. Amongst these men, there is a weaver called Nick Bottom who seems to be over confident and boastful of his acting abilities. He wants to play all the parts in the story because he thinks he is best suited to do so. He keeps advising other men in the group unnecessarily in between the rehearsals. He is assigned to play the character of Pyramus (which is already a central character), but he keeps interrupting in between the practice to claim that he is also perfect to play other characters like that of Thisbe, the Lion, Pyramus’ father, etc. Although he is excessively sure of being the best actor in the group, he appears as hilarious and foolish to the audience. He makes a lot of ridiculous mistakes in his speech and often overacts that make him look very funny.

Wiggin42 | Student

The crude mechanicals are a source of comic relief in Midsummer Night's Dream. For instance, Bottom has his head charmed into that of a donkey's and Queen Titania falls in love with this donkey due to Oberon's tricks. Hilarious. Likewise, having Bottom try to play every character is another source of humor in the play. 

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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