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

A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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Act IV, Scene 2: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. How do the actors know Bottom has not yet returned?

2. Why can’t they perform the play?

3. What do his friends say are Bottom’s best qualities?

4. What mistake does Quince make in referring to Bottom’s voice?

5. What is Snug’s news?

6. What is especially disappointing about not being able to present the play?

7. What would Flute have demanded for Bottom?

8. What is Bottom’s reaction upon finding his friends?

9. Why won’t he tell them what has happened to him?

10. What is his advice to his fellow actors?

1. The actors know Bottom has not yet returned because Robin Starveling went to his house, only to find, “He [Bottom] cannot be heard of.”

2. They can’t perform the play because there is not, “…a man in all Athens able to discharge Pyramus but he [Bottom].”

3. His friends say Bottom’s best qualities are his wit (sense of humor), which is “the best wit of any handicraftsman in Athens,” and his sweet voice.

4. The mistake Quince makes is in referring to Bottom’s voice as that of a “paramour” rather than “paragon.” The humor in this is that a paramour is a lover, while a paragon is a model of excellence. The bawdy joke is that Quince is calling his friend a lover, rather than a role model.

5. Snug’s news is that, “…there is two or three lords and ladies more married,” that night.

6. What is especially disappointing about not being able to perform that night is that with the additional couples being married, the craftsmen, “…had all been made men,” from just this one night’s performance. This means they would have made enough money to live comfortable lives.

7. Flute declares he would have demanded nothing less than six pence – quite a bit of money at that time – for Bottom’s performance or he’d “be hanged.”

8. Bottom’s reaction upon finding his friends is to ask the group in general why they are so sad.

9. Bottom will not tell his friends what has happened to him because, since it is so fantastic, it will take a long time to tell and they need the time to prepare for their performance that night because their play has been chosen for the revel. Bottom saves his tale, for he would prefer, “no more words.”

10. Bottom’s advice to his fellow actors is as follows: prepare your costumes; review your parts; Thisbe—wear clean clothes; Lion—do not cut your fingernails so that they may somewhat resemble claws; and, “eat no onions nor garlic,” before the performance.

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