Illustration of a donkey-headed musician in between two white trees

A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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Act III, Scene 1: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Why does Quince feel their rehearsal spot is ideal?

2. Why does Bottom feel they need two Prologues to the play?

3. How do they solve the problems of representing the moonlight and the Wall in their play?

4. Why is Bottom alone when Puck changes his head to that of an ass?

5. How is it that Bottom is alone when Titania awakes?

6. Why hasn’t Bottom followed his friends from the wood?

7. Why does Titania awake?

8. What does Titania offer Bottom?

9. What is his reaction to this offer?

10. What part are the fairies to play in this?

1. Quince feels that the rehearsal spot in the wood is “a marvelous convenient place” for practicing their play because there is a flat area, a green plot, to serve as the stage and shrubs (hawthorne) to represent the tiring house (dressing room).

2. Bottom feels the craftsmen need “a device to make all well” —two Prologues (opening speeches) to the play—to warn the ladies of the audience that there will be a sword scene which is only acting, no one is really going to be hurt, and that the Lion is only an actor, not an actual savage beast who may harm them.

3. The craftsmen solve the problems of the moonlight and the wall by checking the almanac and assuring themselves there will, indeed, be moonlight to shine through the window (casement) on stage the night of the play. “Some man or other must present Wall,” is Bottom’s suggestion. This actor is to be loam covered and hold his fingers out between Pyramus and Thisbe, who are supposed to be speaking through a wall.

4. Bottom is alone when Puck changes his head to that of an ass because Quince has the actors rehearsing with their stage directions, which are entrances and exits from the stage and the movements they are to make on the stage itself. Bottom has just had an exit cue (word in the script upon which a specified actor performs a predetermined action) and left the green plot serving as the rehearsal stage.

5. Bottom is alone when Titania awakes because during Bottom’s exit, Puck—already annoyed that these humans are so close to the sleeping Fairy Queen—decided to play one of his wicked pranks. When Bottom re-enters the green plot with an ass’s head instead of his own, his friends run in fright, crying “O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted! Pray, masters, fly, masters! Help!” Although Quince and Snout each return for a moment to attempt to make Bottom understand what has happened, both run away again.

6. Bottom hasn’t followed his friends from the wood because he doesn’t realize his head has been changed. He thinks their running away and Snout and Quince’s attempts to tell him he has changed are nothing more than a joke on him, “ …an attempt to make an ass of me, to fright me if they could.” He refuses to run after them and be part of the joke.

7. Titania awakes because Bottom is singing to keep up his courage. He will not admit it to his friends, but he is afraid to be in the wood by himself. He also sings because he wants his friends to hear it, “that they shall hear I am not afraid.”

8. Titania offers Bottom the fairies to attend him, jewels, songs sung to lull him into sleep on a bed of pressed flowers, and the chance to, “purge thy mortal grossness so that thou shalt like an airy spirit go.”

9. Bottom’s reaction to this offer is to banter with the fairies in a clownish way which seems to signify acceptance.

10. The four Fairies—Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Mote, and Mustardseed—are to, “Be kind and courteous to this gentleman [Bottom],” to attend to his every need, to fee him delicacies, and in all ways possible to make him more than comfortable and happy.

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Act II, Scene 2: Questions and Answers


Act III, Scene 2: Questions and Answers