Character of Bottom in Shakespeare a midsummer nights dream

Mir Hassan

The Character of Bottom in Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Character of Bottom in Shakespeare a midsummer nights dream

Character Analysis Bottom in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream | nick bottom character analysis essay |why is bottom important in a midsummer night's dream | what kind of character is Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream? |What type of character is Bottom? |What character does Bottom play in the play? |Bottom - A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare | Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream: Character Analysis

 The character of Bottom : A Midsummer Night's Dream

The bottom is one of the comic characters of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’. He is a weaver and is part of a small group of merchants who decide to stage a play for the Duke's wedding in order to win the love of a royal family. Despite being a practical and down-to-earth character, Bottom is often the butt of jokes. He is also a bit of a braggart who enjoys being the center of attention, as evidenced by his famous quote, “I will speak in a monstrous little voice.”

However, Bottom is not just a one-dimensional character. He is also a dreamer, as evidenced by his comment that he “would fain know what the love of Theseus and Hippolyta might be.”  Bottom is highly ambitious and not afraid to take risks, as demonstrated by his famous quote, “I will undertake it.” Bottom's determination to succeed is admirable, and his willingness to put himself out there is a testament to his courage.

   With Bottom Shakespeare achieves the first of his The character is taken not from books, but from life --  hempen homespun from actual life and exaggerated into literature. It has been pointed out by some critics that Shakespeare's experience of the greenroom-the petty foibles, envies, and jealousies among actors-has led the creation of this first comic masterpiece. But in reality, there is no object of satire in this portraiture. The traits that are uppermost in the character of the weaver must have come within the ken of the dramatist's kindly eye long before he entered the world of London theatre. Bottom is a transcript from real life, translated into a dramatic creation.

  Critics have dwelt at length on the inordinate conceit and his Self-importance of Bottom. Bottom is the natural leader of his crew. In the preparation of the Interlude in honour of the Duke's marriage, Quince is nominally the stage manager, Bottom, through the force of his personality, becomes the directing spirit. He is the protean actor, who is ready for any and every part, from the lady to the lion. Without Bottom the play cannot go forward. "It is not possible; you have not a man in all Athens able to discharge Pyramus but he"--- thus despairs Quince when Bottom is missing and is supposed to be transported by the fairies. All the craftsmen think that the heart has gone out of the performance. Thus all his fellow beings hold his versatile genius in high esteem. It is quite natural that, fed by the hero-worship of such dull and unimaginative souls, Bottom develops a supreme vanity and self-importance, so that when he is 'translated', it is a fitting climax to a process of this evolution of vanity.  Thus Bottom is conceited enough and of this, there is no doubt.


 But, as J. B. Priestley, one of the most incisive and sympathetic critics of Bottom, has pointed out, this conceit of Bottom is the conceit of an artist who is fully alive to his powers. Says” We admit that he is conceited, but he is in some measure an artist and the artists are notoriously conceited". This leads us To the consideration of the most important trait of his character which distinguishes him from his fellow beings. Bottom has the soul of an artist – the most romantic, imaginative, and poetical of all patches. Listen once again to Priestly:”of all those present he is the only one who shows any passion for the drama itself, the art of acting, the enthralling business of moving and thrilling an audience. The others are only concerned with getting through their several tasks in the easiest and safest manner, with one eye upon the hangman and the other on the is a part mentioned than he can see himself playing it and Bottom; his imagination is catching fire; so that no sooner playing it in such a manner as to lift the audience out of their seats...... All this shows the eagerness and the soaring imagination of an artist, and if it shows too an unusual vanity, a confidence in one's ability to play any number of parts better than anyone else could play them, a confidence so gigantic that it becomes ridiculous, it must be remembered that vanity and a soaring imagination are generally inseparable. It is clear that a man cannot play every part; cannot be lover, tyrant, lady and lion at once but it is equally clear that every man of imagination and spirit ought to want to play every part. It is better to be vain like Bottom than to be dead in the spirit like Snug or Starveling".

It is interesting to find that even when Bottom is translated he retains his versatile genius for adapting himself to any part. He rises equal to this occasion and dominates the scene of the fairy world. How commanding and royal he is when he is bidding Titania, his love, to sing so that he may sleep! He fairy world. How commanding and royal he is when he is deals with the fairy attendants in a manner that the Duke might imitate. Thus Bottom is the natural leader, the dominating spirit wherever he appears.


Then again, Bottom is a romantic, chivalrous fellow-s ladies' man'. "He it is who shows himself sensitive to the delicacy of the sex in the matter of the killing and the lion, and We feel that his insistence upon a prologue, a device to make all well' is only the result of his delicacy and chivalry." chivalrous is the language of the prologue he intended-------Ladies  or Fair Ladies – I would wish you --- or I would request you ---- or I would entreat – not to fear, not to tremble: my life for yours.

Lastly, Bottom has the inventiveness and resourcefulness of an artist. When his company is faced with the problem of a realistic presentation of the comic interlude, he does not acknowledge defeat. With what resourcefulness he suggests the method of representing the moonshine and the wall with chink! As is natural, his companions, who have infinite faith in his wisdom readily accept and act upon his suggestions.

Bottom, as Shakespeare has painted him, is not a fool. Puck describes him as "the shallowest thick-skinned of that barren sort", the biggest fool in a company of fools. But Puck is no judge of human character. When the ass's head is put upon Bottom, it may be taken as the symbolic representation of the ass that is Bottom. But Bottom is a fool of genius-the lunatic, the lover and the poet all in one. It is only the shallow practical wisdom of worldly-minded men which takes all these classes of people as 'fools'. The Duke himself is the type of this wisdom. But in the imaginative sense, they are not fools, and Bottom is no fool.

Overall, Bottom is a complex and entertaining character who adds depth and humor to A Midsummer Night's Dream. His antics and ambition make him a fan favorite, and his famous quotes have become iconic in the world of literature.

Q. 2  Write a note short note on the Companions of Bottom

The Companions of Bottom, namely, Quines, Sang,  Starveling, and Snout are not sufficiently individualized. Their only function in the drama is to serve as foils to Bottom, their natural leader. Peter Quince by his seniority of years becomes the nominal stage manager, but Bottom is the real guiding spirit of the company of actors.

(i) Quince has the rude, untutored genius of a poet. He pens the play for performance at the Duke's wedding. The play he writes is really à burlesque on the melodramatic plays of Shakespeare's own day. the extravagance of style, jingling meter, repetition of fantastic words, and excess of alliteration, do not fit in with our idea of the type of play to be expected of a rustic genius. Quince has the modesty of a poet, and when he recognizes his inferiority to Bottom as an actor, he surrenders the lead to the versatile actor without any demur.

(ii) Snout is a mere echo of Nick Bottom-a kind of understudy of the great leader. He merely develops the suggestions coming from Bottom and has no initiative of his own. Without Bottom he is entirely helpless.

 (iii) Starveling is like all tailors, feeble in intellect. He forgets his part in the drama and has a horror for the stage so Lysander has to encourage him to overcome his fear.

Q. 3 Distinguish between Bottom and his Companions.


Ans. Of the crew of rustic homespun', Bottom is the only character drawn at full length, the rest are mere shadows of s foils to their chief. Bottom is conscious of his superiority over all others and at once takes the command. His companions too recognize it, and when the leader is supposed to be transported by the fairies, they despair of their Without Bottom the play cannot go forward. Bottom develops supreme self-importance and conceit, being fed by the hero-worship of his companions.

Again, Bottom alone, among the crew, shows a genuine passion for drama and acting. The other members of his party have not a glimmer of imagination. The latter is only concerned with one purpose, namely, to please the Duke. If they do their business badly, namely, frighten the ladies, they will be hanged; the other hand, if they do well they will get their six penny each. Thus they do their several parts only perfunctorily with an eye to the purse, while Bottom shows a genuine enthusiasm for the drama.

    Another point of contrast between the two groups is that Hence while Bottom is romantic, imaginative, and poetical, his companions are frankly devoid of imagination. Hence his master considers himself fit for all parts from the lion to the lady. Again, when the difficulties of stage representation confront them, Bottom with his inexhaustible resourcefulness suggests the solution. No doubt, therefore, that his companions who have faith in him, accept and act upon the lines suggested by Bottom. Thus Bottom by the force of his personality takes the command among the shallow thick-skins.

Explain with reference to the context:   A Midsummer Night's Dream


(1)              methinks,'s revenge


 Ans. In these lines, Duke Theseus expresses his eagerness for his wedding with Hippolyta. The nuptials will take place on the new-moon day which is four days hence. But this interval seems to be too long to the impatient Duke. This is expressed under a beautiful simile. The moon seems to be lingering too long like an unwanted dowager, who lives upon the income of an estate that has passed to a young male heir. The dowager thus delays the full enjoyment of his property by the young heir, for as long as she lives the heir has to pay the income that is due to her. Similarly, the moon delays the full enjoyment of the love by the lovers, because as long as the moon lives, they cannot be married. Thus the moon is lingering too long like an unwanted dowager. The moon is here compared to the dowager and the Duke to a young male heir.

 (2) Go Philostrate......our pomp

Ans. In these lines Duke Theseus orders Philostrate, the master of revels, to stir up the general spirit, of merriment among the Athenians against their impending marriage. Let the people of Athens, particularly the youths, celebrate the occasion with due pomp and mirth. Let them banish all melancholy from the mind,-melancholy being more appropriate to funeral processions than to a marriage ceremony. There should be not a single fellow who will put up a pale and woe-begone appearance on ceremonies to make all preparations for the solemn wedding, the day of the wedding. Thus the Duke orders the master of which comes off on the fourth day.


3)   3)Thou, thou Lysander...... youth


Ans. In these lines, Egeus, the father of Hermia, charges Lysander with having captivated the heart of his daughter by means of magic. Lysander has written romantic poems of love- to Hermia and presented love-token. In the moonlit night, he has stood beneath the window of Hermia and sung serenades to her ears, declaring his false love. He has further imprinted his own image on the soft imagination of Hermia by such gifts as bracelets made of his own hair, rings, cheap toys, bouquets and such other trifles which easily influence the soft mind of foolish maidens. (Like Brabantio, the father of Desdemona, Egeus attributes love to magic. Little does he know that love is greater than magic. Romantic love is born in the imagination of the lovers and fed upon by closer association. This was the case with the love of Lysander and Hermia ].

Feigning-pretended. Some editors read 'faining' which means passionate' or 'love-sick'. This would mean that Egeus would prefer to consider Lysander's passion insincere, but the general sense is that Lysander has succeeded by an unfair use- of methods calculated to appeal to sentiment. Stolen the........ fantasy has secretly imprinted his own image on the imagination of Hermia. Gawds-cheap adornments. Conceits-presents that owe their attractiveness to being prettily conceived. Knacks-knick-knacks; cheap presents. Prevailment-influence. Unhardened youth-youth which is soft like wax so that an impression can be easily made on it.


(4) Thrice-blessed they...... blessedness


. Ans. Duke Theseus speaks in these lines about the blessed- go ness of virginity. When Egeus brings against his daughter the charge of disobedience to the father's will, the Duke speaks t her about the penalty. If Hermia does not marry Demetrius according to her father's will, she will, by Athenian law, either be put to death or condemned to live in a monastery. In dentally the Duke pays a compliment to celibacy. Those who can control their passion and pass through life like maidens are really happy. Their joy has something heavenly about it. Yet how many persons in ordinary life are capable of this joy! For most people married state is to be preferred to the single. The Duke brings out his idea by means of an exquisite simile. Persons who marry are compared to roses which are distilled for perfume; their beauty, like the smell of roses, is preserved in their children. But those who live and die virgins are the roses that blush unseen and waste their fragrance in the desert air, with none to inhale them. Hence the life of the former is infinitely preferable to that of the latter.

 (5) Ay me ! for aught......blood

Ans. These are the words of Lysander addressed to Hermia. Lysander, with the true insight of a lover, has noticed how the rosy colour of Hermia's cheek had faded with care. enquires into the cause of this. Hermia, continuing the metaphor of the rose, replies that it is for want of rain that the rose on her cheeks has withered. In other words, Hermia has caused enough to weep over her own lot. Lysander now takes it upon himself to console Hermia, by reminding her that his study of books and history has brought home to him the supreme fact that the path of love is beset with obstacles and the happiness of love is dearly bought. This has been the fate of all lovers in the past, real or imaginary. He then proceeds to explain these difficulties. Sometimes the inequality in the parentage and social status of the lovers stands as a great obstacle to their union. Presently Hermia interrupts him and he stops in the middle of his sentence.

(6) If, then, true lovers......followers.

Ans. These are the words of Hermia spoken in reply to Lysander, who has in a brilliant speech enumerated the various difficulties that stand in the way of the fulfillment of love. If the true lovers are ever thwarted then it is a decree firmly established by destiny. In other words, true love does never dome to the happy issue by the law of fate. In view of this fact Hermis has any complaint. The difficulty is as much a part of love as thoughts, dreams, and tears are constant attendants of love. Hence Hermis fortifies herself with patience to bear through her trials.

 (7) Your eyes are lode-stars......appear.

Ans. When Hermia tauntingly addresses Helens as 'fair one and asks her which way she is going, the latter thus gives the reply. She reminds Hermia that she is the fairer of the two, otherwise, how could she exercise such an irresistible fascination with Demetrius. The eyes of Hermia are as bright as the Pole Star, the chief star in the constellation of Ursa Minor. The sweet sound of her voice is more melodious than the song of the skylark is to the ears of the shepherds in early summer when the wheat fields are green and the hawthorn flowers appear in the bushes.

 (8) Things base and vile......child

Ans. When Hermia is gone, Helena left to herself goes on thinking that she is as fair as Hermia, and yet Demetrius loves her not. This leads her to reflect on the vagaries of love. Love has its strange caprices. Things that are by their nature bas and are in reality out of proportion to the lover's estimate of them are transmuted by the alchemy of love into that which is shapely and dignified. Lovers are most unreasonable beings. They look upon things not through the white light of reason, but through the coloured glass of imagination. Hence the ugliest face on earth appears to be the most beautiful in the eye of as blind in ancient representations. The mind of the lover has not the smallest flavour of critical judgment; hence all his actions are unreasonable and blind. Cupid is also represented with wings, a fact that indicates that lovers are inconstant and changeable; they fly from object to object without adhering to any object for long. Lastly, Cupid is represented as who never grows old, a fact which is symbolical of the folly and unreasonableness of lovers.


(9) I will move storms......split

Ans. When Quince the poet proposes that Bottom is to play the part of Pyramus, Bottom asks him what Pyramus is,-is he a lover or a tyrant? Quince tells him that Pyramus is a lover. In these lines, Bottom explains how he is fit to play the lover. His acting Pyramus will draw tears from the audience. There will scarcely be a dry eye when he goes through the part. He will make a fine story of grief. He will lament in a most piteous voice. Then he asks Quince to pass on to the rest of the actors and cast the parts. But Bottom is still of the opinion that he is in his proper elements in the part of a tyrant. He could play the part of Hercules wonderfully; or he would prefer a similar part in which some doughty deeds, as tearing a cat, might be done. Thus Bottom's humour is more for a tyrant than a lover, and in such a ranting and bombastic part his genius would shine better. 

[ There is no doubt that Shakespeare has put in the mouth of Bottom a satire on contemporary love for 'blood and thunder' drama and the actors' preference for ranting and bombastic speeches. In Hamlet too the poet-actor has put in the mouth of the prince some recipes about proper acting by controlling gestures.



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