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A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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How does the line "Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful" complicate the plot in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Quick answer:

The line "Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful," spoken by Titania to Bottom, complicates the plot because there is truth in it. This complicates our understanding because we want to see Bottom as a foolish buffoon, but he is the only human in the play with the insight to see through love's lunacy.

Expert Answers

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When Titania wakes up after the love potion is applied and sees Bottom with his ass's head, she immediately falls in love. She says to him that he has a beautiful "note" (voice) and "shape" and that she loves him. Bottom says:

Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays.
In other words, the self aware and practical Bottom knows that he is no great prize, either as a singer or in terms of looks. He says that Titania has little reason to make those comments or to say she loves him, then adds that rationality and love have very little in common.
Titania responds,
Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
Bottom also denies this.
Titania's comment that Bottom is as wise as he is beautiful complicates the plot because there is truth in her statement. We tend to want to slot Bottom into the category of foolish buffoon, the standard lower-class "type" who is meant to be the butt of jokes and played for laughs. But as Titania perceives, albeit in her lovesick state, there is more than that going on with Bottom.
Bottom is the only human character in the play to fully acknowledge—as Puck does—the lunacy of love. Normally the upper-class characters would have such insights, but they remain blinded by love.
Titania causes us to think a little more deeply about merely writing Bottom off as a fool. He shows himself to be literal minded in an insightful way in his honest assessment of love.

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