A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Annotated Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare
By William Shakespeare
From the hilarious mischief of the elf Puck to the tough humor of the self-centered backside and his fellow gamers, from the palace of Theseus in Athens to the magic wooden the place fairies play, Shakespeare’s magnificent A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play of appeal and an insightful portrait of the predicaments of affection.
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Additional resources for A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Annotated Shakespeare)
Name what part I am for,12 and proceed. Quince You, Nick Bottom, are set down13 for Pyramus. Bottom What is14 Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant? Quince A lover, that kills himself most gallant15 for love. Bottom That will ask16 some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to17 their eyes. 20 To21 the rest – yet my chief humor22 is for a tyrant. 26 (he declaims) The raging27 rocks And shivering shocks28 Shall break the locks Of prison gates, 12 representing 13 set down ϭ put/written down (“scheduled,” on the list from which Quince is reading) 14 what is ϭ what is the nature/condition of 15 splendid, grand, courtier-like 16 call for 17 look to ϭ attend to, take care/be careful of 18 start, bring, stir up, excite 19 lament, grieve 20 in some measure ϭ somewhat, to an extent, in some degree 21 for, as for 22 disposition, temperament, style, liking 23 Hercules (mangled – though not Cockney-fashion, since “the correct use of h had not yet become a shibboleth of gentility”; Kökeritz, Shakespeare’s Pronunciation, 308) 24 unusually well, splendidly 25 tear a cat ϭ swagger, rant 26 all split ϭ the whole audience go to pieces (see OED, tear, 1d, illustration) 27 violent 28 sudden violent collisions/blows 21 15 20 25 act 1 • scene 2 And Phibbus’ car29 Shall shine from far 30 And make and mar30 The foolish Fates.
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she, And “tailor” cries, and falls into a cough, And then the whole quire hold their hips and loﬀe, And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear A merrier hour was never wasted there. 43 – 57) Puck is, in a sense, the fairy-realm counterpart of Bottom: lively, forceful, self-absorbed, and rather crude. He is Oberon’s jester, and does his job, on the whole, very well—though like Bottom he is demonstrably not infallible. Ariel, in The Tempest, is indeed a light-spirited fairy, but Puck has more than a little of the earthly about him.
But I will aggravate52 my voice so that I will roar you53 as gently as any sucking54 dove. I will roar you an ’twere55 any nightingale. 75 Quince You can play no part but Pyramus. For Pyramus is a sweet-faced man, a proper man as56 one shall see in a summer’s day, a most lovely57 gentleman-like man. Therefore you must needs58 play Pyramus. Bottom Well, I will undertake it. What beard59 were I best to play it in? 80 Quince Why, what you will. Bottom I will discharge60 it in either your61 straw color beard, your orange tawny62 beard, your purple in grain63 beard, or your French crown color64 beard, your perfect65 yellow.