More than Fools
The Roles the Mechanicals Play in
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Ms.Agra Baroti- Gheorghe
December 16, 2014
What do you imagine when you think of a fool? You may think of clowns, or a court jester of ancient times. They only exist to entertain us by way of self-deprecation and slapstick humor. You may also assume that the mechanicals in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are fools as well. However, this is not the case. The Mechanicals help relieve tension, builds plot and elaborates on the main theme. All of these reasons helped contribute to their practicality, at least in Shakespeare’s eyes.
Shakespeare had other ideas in mind for the Rude Mechanicals, like providing humor to alleviate tension in the storyline. The mechanicals are given a task: to prepare for a play that will be presented to Theseus, the Duke of Athens and his fiancée, Hippolyta. In the forests of Athens, the band of amateur actors are rehearsing their roles. However, one particular Mechanical, Nick Bottom, is, frequently mispronouncing his lines, and always trying to volunteer for every part. “An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too. I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice.” The presence of malapropisms and oxymorons (among other things) adds to the comedic nature. This later comes into full effect in the final scene, when the mechanicals are presenting to Theseus, and the four lovers. Halfway into the play, it begins to get more ridiculous, as the actors fumble their lines and perform dreadfully, especially in the scene where Pyramus dies. “ Now I am dead, now I am fled; my soul is in the sky: Tongue, lose thy light: Moon, take thy flight.” Their ability to be ridiculed adds to thei...
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...isbe’s bloodied cloak and kills himself out of despair, only to have Thisbe return and kill herself as well after discovering his corpse. “...Since you have shore With shears his thread of silk. Tongue, not a word: Come trusty sword; Come, blade, my breast imbue.” Not only does this epitomize A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s theme, it also serves a comedic role, as one would not normally destroy oneself in grief.
In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the mechanicals may seem to be unnecessary, but in the eyes of Shakespeare, everything serves a purpose. Apart from reducing tension by way of comic relief, developing the plot and expanding on the main theme all count as reasons for their incorporation in the play. Although one’s initial opinion of this group of craftsmen may seem to be negative, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the Rude Mechanicals roles...
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