Comic Relief in William Shakespeare’s A Midnight’s Summer Dream

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One of William Shakespeare’s best remembered plays for its comical and ironic tone is A Midnight’s Summer Dream. There were characters designed to be humorous and that alone. Puck and Bottom behave very much alike, and have similar roles for different people. Both Puck and Bottom are comic relief characters in one way or the other. Both of them are needed for the play, because Puck’s spirits controls the whole story, which sets the tone for it, and Bottoms comic relief for the audience and play.

Bottom is the first fool or idiot to appear in the play. His first appearance is in Act I, scene ii, when the mechanicals got together. He is part of the groups called mechanicals, who are basically tradesmen who planned to put on a play for the wedding of Duke Theseus. Bottom is already acting like a fool right when we meet him. He tells Quince that he could be all the characters in the play at once. Quince gives him the role of Pyramus, and as he starts giving the other roles out, Bottom starts to tell him that he could do it all. Quince easily solves this problem by reassuring that no one else could do Bottom’s part and he has to do his best at it since he’s the only one who could do it. This demonstrates an important aspect of Bottom's character: he is often full of good advice, but he has no idea how to use it. Bottom is also convinced (self-proclaimed) that he is a superb actor and can act any part. In fact, he becomes so excited about his acting prowess that he volunteers to take on every part in the play. By the end of the scene, it is clear that the mechanicals are hopelessly incapable of putting on a good play, and Bottom only complicates the situation further.

The next fool makes his appearance in Act II scene i, and his name...

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... featured one last time in the epilogue to this scene, where he tells the audience that if they do not enjoy the play, they should think of it as nothing more than a dream. If the audience does enjoy the play, they should give Puck "their hands," or applaud. Thus Puck is cleaning up for more than the fairies problems in the last soliloquy, as he cleans up for the entire play as well. Both of the fools were necessary in this play. Puck's tricks and loyalty makes Oberon's goals and the happiness of the lovers possible. Bottom's foolishness provides for comedy for both the characters in the play and the audience, and it’s his transformation which enables Oberon to obtain the boy from Titania. Puck, Oberon's fool, and Bottom, the fool of the play, both provide comedy and some-what intelligent observations, which make them an important part of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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