A Midsummer Night's Dream Quotes in Context
by William Shakespeare

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"A Lion Among Ladies"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The celebration of the marriage of Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, fair captive Queen of the Amazons, will take place at the rise of the new moon. Some common craftsmen plan to produce a play based on the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. During a rehearsal fears are voiced that the ladies in the audience will be frightened at the death of Pyramus by his own sword and at the appearance of a lion. The dialogue among the craftsmen proceeds thus:

SNOUTWill not the ladies be afeard of the lion?STARVELINGI fear it, I promise you.BOTTOMMasters, you ought to consider with yourselves–to bring in, Godshield us, a lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing. For there isnot a more fearful wild-fowl than your lion living; and we oughtto look to't.SNOUTTherefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion.

"A Local Habitation, And A Name"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: As the marriage of Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, the captive Queen of the Amazons, approaches, revelry prevails. A group of craftsmen present, for the amusement of the Athenian court, a play based on the Pyramus and Thisbe legend. At the conclusion of the production, Theseus comments to Hippolyta that the pen of the poet gives the air of reality to legend and fantasy.

THESEUSThe poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven.And as imagination bodies forthThe forms of things unknown, the poet's penTurns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothingA local habitation, and a name.Such tricks hath strong imagination,That if it would but apprehend some joy,It comprehends some bringer of that joy.Or in the night, imagining some fear,How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

"A Part To Tear A Cat In, To Make All Split"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The handicraftsmen Quince, the carpenter; Snug, the joiner; Bottom, the weaver; Flute, the bellowsmender; Snout, the tinker; the Starveling, the tailor, are commanded to prepare a play for possible presentation, at the wedding festivities of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and his bride Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. These naïve souls have neither dramatic experience nor ability, but they are determined to compensate for any deficiency through sheer effort and flamboyant histrionics. Shakespeare is no doubt having fun at the expense of his profession as he comically depicts the problems of casting and staging. Bottom is the nonpareil of dramatic hams. Convinced he can perform all roles–if need be simultaneously–he is quick to extemporize in order to impress the harassed Quince, who is serving as director. When Quince announces that the play shall be The Most Lamentable Comedy, and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe, Bottom immediately voices his approval of the play and calls for casting. Told he is to play the lover Pyramus, he complains that his best talents are being wasted, that his forte is the tyrant's role in which his full range of furious Thespian skills can be exercised:

QUINCEYou, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.BOTTOMWhat is Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant?QUINCEA lover, that kills himself, most gallant, for love.BOTTOMThat will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes. I will move storms. I will condole in some measure. To the rest. 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.The raging rocks,And shivering shocks,Shall break the locksOf prison gates,And Phibbus' carShall shine from far,And make and marThe foolish Fates.This was lofty. Now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein. A lover is more condoling.

"A Proper Man As One Shall See In A Summer's Day"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The marriage of Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, the fair captive Queen of the Amazons, is to be celebrated when the new moon shall appear. Among the revelries planned is the production of a homely version of the Pyramus and Thisbe legend put on by a group of craftsmen. The weaver, Bottom, vies for every part until finally Quince, a carpenter who has written the play, tells Bottom that the role of Pyramus is clearly...

(The entire section is 3,054 words.)