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A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act III, Scene 1

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Act III, Scene 1

Scene 1

In the woods.

The mechanicals meet in the forest to rehearse the play. They have a comedic discussion about how to stage the play, then begin rehearsing. Robin Goodfellow discovers them rehearsing and decides to play a prank on them. When Bottom exits as part of the play, Robin changes Bottom's head to that of an ass (a donkey). When Bottom re-enters, the other mechanicals run away in fear. Bottom is baffled at his companions' behavior and sings to show that he is not afraid. Bottom's singing awakens Titania, who falls in love with him on the spot. She tells him of her love which at first confuses Bottom, but he warms up to the idea quickly. She commands her fairies to tend to Bottom's every need. They all exit, heading towards Titania's bower.
  1. Enter the Clowns.

Bottom

1
  1. Are we all met?

Quince

2 - 6
  1. Pat, pat; and here’s a marvelous convenient
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    "On the dot" or "exactly".
    Jul 26, 2020 Miko
    The First Folio spells this word "maruailous", the Second Folio "marvailous". The First Quarto spells it "maruailes". Modern editions make various choices about this word, choosing "marvels", "marvail's", or "marvelous".
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    acceptable, suitable
  2. place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall
  3. be our stage, this hawthorn brake our
  4. tiring-house, and we will do it in action as we
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Dressing room. "Tiring" is a shortened form of "attiring".
  5. will do it before the Duke.

Bottom

7
  1. Peter Quince!

Quince

8
  1. What sayest thou, bully Bottom?
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    a term of endearment for a friend

Bottom

9 - 13
  1. There are things in this comedy of Pyramus
  2. and Thisbe that will never please. First,
  3. Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself;
  4. which the ladies cannot abide. How answer
  5. you that?

Snout

14
  1. By’r lakin, a parlous fear.
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    a shortening of "by Our Lady"
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    perilous

Starveling

15 - 16
  1. I believe we must leave the killing out, when all
  2. is done.

Bottom

17 - 23
  1. Not a whit! I have a device to make all well.
  2. Write me a prologue, and let the prologue
  3. seem to say we will do no harm with our
  4. swords, and that Pyramus is not kill’d indeed;
  5. and for the more better assurance, tell them
  6. that I Pyramus am not Pyramus, but Bottom
  7. the weaver. This will put them out of fear.

Quince

24 - 25
  1. Well; we will have such a prologue, and it
  2. shall be written in eight and six.
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    This was the standard meter for ballads. It consisted of four line stanzas which alternated eight and six syllables.

Bottom

26 - 27
  1. No; make it two more; let it be written in
  2. eight and eight.
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    There is no standard "eight and eight" meter. It may be that Bottom, who always wants things bigger and better, feels like "eight and eight" is better because it has more syllables.

Snout

28
  1. Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?

Starveling

29
  1. I fear it, I promise you.

Bottom

30 - 34
  1. Masters, you ought to consider with
  2. yourselves, to bring in (God shield us!) a lion
  3. among ladies, is a most dreadful thing; for
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Some scholars have suggested that Bottom's concern is an allusion to an event that had happened recently at the coronation of Prince Henry of Scotland. A carriage was supposed to be drawn by a lion, but it was decided that it was too dangerous.
  4. there is not a more fearful wild-fowl than your
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    The Oxford English Dictionary says that Bottom again uses the wrong words; that he meant "wild beast". The Arden Shakespeare, however, suggests that Bottom is referring to the griffin, a fierce mythological flying creature.
  5. lion living; and we ought to look to’t.

Snout

35 - 36
  1. Therefore another prologue must tell he is not
  2. a lion.

Bottom

37 - 48
  1. Nay; you must name his name, and half his
  2. face must be seen through the lion’s neck,
  3. and he himself must speak through, saying
  4. thus, or to the same defect: Ladies,” or Fair
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Bottom means to say "effect". Bottom frequently chooses the wrong words for his intent.
  5. ladies, I would wish you,” or I would request
  6. you,” or I would entreat you, not to fear, not
  7. to tremble: my life for yours. If you think I
  8. come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life.
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Most editions note this phrase as meaning simply "a bad thing for me". Some editions, however, say that Bottom thinks he would be risking his life. How serious he is about that concern is speculation.
  9. No! I am no such thing; I am a man as other
  10. men are”; and there indeed let him name his
  11. name, and tell them plainly he is Snug
  12. the joiner.

Quince

49 - 52
  1. Well; it shall be so. But there is two hard
  2. things: that is, to bring the moonlight into a
  3. chamber; for you know, Pyramus and Thisbe
  4. meet by moonlight.

Snout

53 - 54
  1. Doth the moon shine that night we play our
  2. play?

Bottom

55 - 56
  1. A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac.
  2. Find out moonshine, find out moonshine.

Quince

57
  1. Yes; it doth shine that night.

Bottom

58 - 60
  1. Why then may you leave a casement of the
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    The frame of a window that swings open. In this case it more generally means the window itself.
  2. great chamber window (where we play) open;
  3. and the moon may shine in at the casement.

Quince

61 - 67
  1. Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of
  2. thorns and a lanthorn, and say he comes to
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    The First Quarto spells this word "lātern", presumably a variant of the Latin word "lāterna". The First Folio spells it "lanthorne". Modern editions spell it either "lantern" or "lanthorn".
  3. disfigure, or to present, the person of
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Bottom means to say "figure", meaning to portray or represent.
  4. Moonshine. Then, there is another thing: we
  5. must have a wall in the great chamber; for
  6. Pyramus and Thisbe (says the story) did talk
  7. through the chink of a wall.

Snout

68 - 69
  1. You can never bring in a wall. What say
  2. you, Bottom?

Bottom

70 - 74
  1. Some man or other must present Wall; and
  2. let him have some plaster, or some loam, or
  3. some rough-cast about him, to signify wall; or
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Bottom lists various materials used for building walls.
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Some texts change "or" to "and" because the phrase "let him hold his fingers thus" does not seem to be in opposition to the previous directions about plaster, etc. The First Quarto and the First Folio both have "or".
  4. let him hold his fingers thus, and through that
  5. cranny shall Pyramus and Thisbe whisper.

Quince

75 - 79
  1. If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit
  2. down, every mother’s son, and rehearse your
  3. parts. Pyramus, you begin. When you have
  4. spoken your speech, enter into that brake;
  5. and so every one according to his cue.
  1. Enter Puck, behind.

Robin

80 - 83
  1. What hempen home-spuns have we swagg’ring here,
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    cloth made from hemp
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Robin is calling them low-class or bumpkins.
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    "Swaggering" was apparently a new word around the time that Shakespeare wrote this play. George Chapman wrote in his 1598 dedication for "Achilles Shield": "Swaggering is a new word amongst them, and round headed custom gives it priviledge with much imitation, being created as it were by a natural Prosopopeia without etimology or derivation…". Shakespeare uses several variations of "swagger" in his plays, but none before 1600. Although it is often claimed that Shakespeare invented the word, there is no solid evidence to prove it.
  2. So near the cradle of the Fairy Queen?
    Mar 22, 2021 Miko
    couch or bed
  3. What, a play toward? I’ll be an auditor,
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    A play in preparation. I.e., they're working toward performing a play.
    Mar 2, 2019 Miko
    someone who is listening
  4. An actor too perhaps, if I see cause.

Quince

84
  1. Speak, Pyramus. Thisbe, stand forth.

Bottom

85
  1. Thisbe, the flowers of odious savors sweet”—
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Bottom describes the flowers as "odious" (which means hateful or repulsive) when he should have said "odorous", referring to their fragrance.

Quince

86
  1. Odorous, odorous.
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    There is disagreement on what Quince is supposed to say here. The First Quarto says "Odours, odorous". The First Folio says "Odours, odours". Both words make sense in context. Some modern texts use "Odours", others use "odorous". In the 1981 BBC production, Quince says "Odious. [rolls his eyes] Odorous!"

Bottom

87 - 90
  1.                   —“odorous savors sweet;
  2. So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisbe dear.
  3. But hark; a voice! Stay thou but here a while,
  4. And by and by I will to thee appear.”
  1. Exit.

Robin

91
  1. A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here.
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    The First Quarto has Quince speaking these words. The First Folio changes the speech to Robin Goodfellow. That change is generally accepted and is followed in modern texts. There is no particular reason, however, that Quince could not observe that Bottom makes a strange Pyramus, so either speaker makes sense.
  1. Exit.

Flute

92
  1. Must I speak now?

Quince

93 - 95
  1. Ay, marry, must you; for you must understand
  2. he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and
  3. is to come again.

Flute

96 - 100
  1. Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
  2. Of color like the red rose on triumphant brier,
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Note that apparently Pyramus is both "lily white" and like the "red rose".
  3. Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew,
  4. As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire,
  5. I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.”
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Flute mispronounces "Ninus". A ninny is a fool.
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Much of this speech is nonsense. Various words are chosen just because they rhyme or match the meter.

Quince

101 - 105
  1. Ninus’ tomb,” man. Why, you must not speak
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    In the original story of Pyramus and Thisbe, as told by Ovid, the two lovers agree to meet at the grave of King Ninus.
  2. that yet. That you answer to Pyramus.
  3. You speak all your part at once, cues and all.
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    you are speaking
  4. Pyramus, enter. Your cue is past; it is
  5. never tire.”
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    Flute was apparently supposed to stop after "never tire", at which point Bottom is supposed to have entered.

Flute

106
  1. O—“As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.”
  1. Enter Puck, and Bottom with an ass’ head.
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    The First Quarto does not have an explicit stage direction about when Bottom enters with an ass' head. The First Folio reads "Enter Piramus with the Asse head.", and that direction is given after line 114. Some scholars speculate that Shakespeare may have been inspired by the story of Dr. Faustus, in which a magician gives banquet guests ass' heads.

Bottom

107
  1. If I were fair, Thisbe, I were only thine.”
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    The irony here is that Bottom's first line with an ass' head is saying that he is handsome.

Quince

108 - 109
  1. O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted.
  2. Pray, masters, fly, masters! Help!
  1. Exeunt Quince, Snug, Flute, Snout, and
  2. Starveling.

Robin

110 - 115
  1. I’ll follow you, I’ll lead you about a round,
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    This phrase could have one or both of two meanings. 1) Robin will lead the men around and around. 2) He will lead them in a roundel dance. Notice again the reference to fairies dancing in circles.
  2. Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier:
  3. Sometime a horse I’ll be, sometime a hound,
  4. A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire,
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    "Fire" refers to will-o'-the-wisp. In its literal sense, will-o'-the-wisp is ignis fatuus, lights that appear in marshy areas because of the combustion of gas from decayed organic matter. "Ignis fatuus" is Latin for "foolish fire". According to folklore, travelers would see ignis fatuus, which can appear as small fire balls hovering in the air, and believed the fireballs were lanterns. The travelers would then follow the lanterns and get lost. Colloquially, will-o'-the-wisp is something that tricks and deceives with quick, confusing appearances. That matches well with the way Robin confuses and leads the men astray.
  5. And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,
  6. Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.
  1. Exit.

Bottom

116 - 117
  1. Why do they run away? This is a knavery of
  2. them to make me afeard.
  1. Enter Snout.

Snout

118 - 119
  1. O Bottom, thou art chang’d! What do I see on
  2. thee?

Bottom

120 - 121
  1. What do you see? You see an ass-head of your
  2. own, do you?
  1. Exit Snout.
  1. Enter Quince.

Quince

122 - 123
  1. Bless thee. Bottom, bless thee! Thou art
  2. translated.
    Mar 11, 2019 Miko
    transformed
  1. Exit.

Bottom

124 - 132
  1. I see their knavery. This is to make an ass of
  2. me, to fright me, if they could; but I will not
  3. stir from this place, do what they can. I will
  4. walk up and down here, and I will sing, that
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    Weavers had a reputation of loving to sing. That reputation traces to the 1560s when Calvinist refugees arrived from the Netherlands. Many of those refugees were weavers from the Netherlands' huge textile industry. They carried on the Calvinist traditions of singing psalms.

    Shakespeare makes several references to weavers and singing. In Henry IV, Part 1, Falstaff says "I would I were a weaver, I could sing psalms". In Twelfth Night, Sir Toby asks "Shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch that will draw three souls out of one weaver?"

  5. they shall hear I am not afraid.
  6. Sings.
  7. The woosel cock so black of hue,
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    The common blackbird. Some modern texts change this word to "ousel" or "ouzel". All of these variations are now archaic.
  8. With orange-tawny bill,
  9. The throstle with his note so true,
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    The thrush. The thrush is a large family of birds, which actually includes the common blackbird mentioned in the previous line. Bottom probably more specifically refers to the song thrush. The song thrush is known for repeating the same song phrases over and over, so that might be what Bottom means when he says "his note so true".
  10. The wren with little quill
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    Bottom might be referring to the wren's short wings and tail. Many modern editions say that Bottom refers to the wren having a high pitched song - one definition of "quill" is "musical pipe". Both meanings seem reasonable.

Titania

133
  1. Awaking.
  2. What angel wakes me from my flow’ry bed?

Bottom

134 - 140
  1. Sings.
  2. The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
  3. The plainsong cuckoo grey,
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    The cuckoo has a very plain, repetitive song - "cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo...". The type of cuckoo that visits England is grey. A plainsong is a type of liturgical song involving chants.
  4. Whose note full many a man doth mark,
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    Hearing the song of the cuckoo supposedly meant that the listener was a cuckold - a man whose wife is unfaithful. The word "cuckold" comes from the word "cuckoo", with various explanations of how that evolution occurred.
  5. And dares not answer nay
  6. For indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a
  7. bird? Who would give a bird the lie, though he
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    Who would match wits with a fool?
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    Who would take the trouble to disagree with a bird?
  8. cry cuckoo never so?
    Mar 12, 2019 Miko
    In these last few lines, Bottom stops singing and questions the words he just sang.

Titania

141 - 145
  1. I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again.
  2. Mine ear is much enamored of thy note;
  3. So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;
    Mar 20, 2021 Miko
    Pronounced with three syllables: en-THRALL-id.
  4. And thy fair virtue’s force (perforce) doth move me
  5. On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.

Bottom

146 - 151
  1. Methinks, mistress, you should have little
  2. reason for that. And yet, to say the truth,
  3. reason and love keep little company together
  4. now-a-days. The more the pity that some
  5. honest neighbors will not make them friends.
    Mar 13, 2019 Miko
    In some productions Titania laughs after this sentence. Doing so clarifies why Bottom says that he jokes ("gleeks") on occasion.
  6. Nay, I can gleek upon occasion.
    Mar 13, 2019 Miko
    joke

Titania

152
  1. Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.

Bottom

153 - 155
  1. Not so, neither; but if I had wit enough to get
  2. out of this wood, I have enough to serve mine
  3. owe turn.
    Apr 20, 2019 Miko
    own

Titania

156 - 166
  1. Out of this wood do not desire to go;
  2. Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.
  3. I am a spirit of no common rate;
  4. The summer still doth tend upon my state;
    Mar 20, 2021 Miko
    Summer serves her as part of her royal court.
  5. And I do love thee; therefore go with me.
  6. I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee;
  7. And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
  8. And sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep.
  9. And I will purge thy mortal grossness so,
  10. That thou shalt like an aery spirit go.
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    Titania will remove him from his physical body so that he can become a fairy.
  11. Peaseblossom! Cobweb! Moth! And Mustardseed!
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    Pronounced "mote". Shakespeare may have meant mote - the specks of dust seen in a beam of light - instead of the insect that resembles a butterfly. The Folger edition of the play spells the name "Mote".
  1. Enter four FairiesPeaseblossom, Cobweb,
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    The blossom of the pisum sativum - the pea.
  2. Moth, and Mustardseed.
    Jul 26, 2020 Miko
    The Folios have a slightly different wording for this stage direction: "Enter Pease‑blossome, Cobweb, Moth, Mustard‑ seede, and foure Fairies". Editors have assumed that the "and" wasn't intended and that there are only four fairies.

All Fairies

167
  1. Ready; and I, and I, and I. Where shall we go?
    Jul 26, 2020 Miko
    Most modern editions separate this line into several lines, assigning each to different fairies. However, the Folios and the First Quarto only have one line assigned to "Fai." or "Fairies."

Titania

168 - 178
  1. Be kind and courteous to this gentleman,
  2. Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes;
    Mar 10, 2019 Miko
    frolic or dance
  3. Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,
    Mar 4, 2019 Miko
    a type of blackberry
  4. With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
  5. The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees,
  6. And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs,
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    A taper is a candle. So in this sense, a night-taper is a candle burned for light at nighttime. Titania is telling the fairies to use bee legs (which she assumes are covered with wax) as candles.
  7. And light them at the fiery glow-worm’s eyes,
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    A glow worm is an insect that glows through bioluminescence. There is no one specific insect called a glow worm. Titania is telling them to light the tapers with the fire that is presumably the source of the glow worm's light.
  8. To have my love to bed and to arise;
  9. And pluck the wings from painted butterflies,
  10. To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes.
  11. Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    Pronounced "CORTisIZE" to keep the imabic pentameter and to rhyme with "eyes".

First fairy

179
  1. Hail, mortal, hail.

Second fairy

180
  1. Hail.

Third fairy

181
  1. Hail.
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    Neither the First Quarto nor the First Folio give the fairies names to indicate which is speaking. Only three fairies are indicated to speak: "1 Fai.", "2 Fai.", and "3 Fai.". Modern editions usually name which fairy is speaking. They also separate the first fairy's line into two lines spoken by two fairies: "Hail, mortal!" and "Hail!". Finally, the modern editions have exclamation points instead of periods. In this edition we have chosen to give the lines according to the original sources.

Bottom

182 - 183
  1. I cry your worships mercy, heartily. I beseech
    Jul 26, 2020 Miko
    Bottom may be attempting to say "merci", the French word for "thank you".
  2. your worship’s name.

Cobweb

184
  1. Cobweb.

Bottom

185 - 187
  1. I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good
  2. Master Cobweb. If I cut my finger, I shall make
  3. bold with you. Your name, honest gentleman?
    Mar 13, 2019 Miko
    Spider webs were a traditional treatment for cuts.

Peaseblossom

188
  1. Peaseblossom.

Bottom

189 - 193
  1. I pray you commend me to Mistress Squash,
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    an unripened pea pod
  2. your mother, and to Master Peascod, your
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    the pea pod, i.e. the pod containing the peas
  3. father. Good Master Peaseblossom, I shall
  4. desire you of more acquaintance too. Your
  5. name, I beseech you, sir?

Mustardseed

194
  1. Mustardseed.

Bottom

195 - 200
  1. Good Master Mustardseed, I know your
  2. patience well. That same cowardly, giant-like
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    Bottom might be referring to the parable of the mustard seed which is in the Gospel of Matthew. That parable is sometimes used as a call for patience. It may also simply refer to the mustard plant's patience in being eaten.
  3. ox-beef hath devour’d many a gentleman
  4. of your house. I promise you your kindred hath
  5. made my eyes water ere now. I desire you of
  6. more acquaintance, good Master Mustardseed.

Titania

201 - 205
  1. Come wait upon him; lead him to my bower.
    Mar 15, 2019 Miko
    Titania could mean one or both of two things with this word. 1) an outside space over-canopied with trees and shrubs 2) a woman's bedroom.
  2. The moon methinks looks with a wat’ry eye;
  3. And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,
  4. Lamenting some enforced chastity.
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    There is disagreement over the meaning of this line, and the interpretations are directly opposite each other. Many modern editions state that "enforced" actually means violated, meaning that the flowers are forced not to be chaste, i.e. raped. Others state that it means the opposite, that their chastity is forced, i.e. they are not allowed to have sex. It should be noted that the Oxford English Dictionary makes no mention of "enforced" meaning "violated".
  5. Tie up my lover’s tongue, bring him silently.
    Mar 24, 2019 Miko
    Although Titania loves Bottom, she apparently still recognizes that he is very talkative.
  1. Exeunt.
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