A Midsummer Night's Dream

Bottom’s Dream

Bottom’s speech at the end of Act 4, Scene 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream marks a transition from a dream world to reality. In it, Bottom struggles to make his dream of an encounter with Titania the fairy queen into something concrete. Bottom’s speech suggests that he has had an experience more substantive than a dream, but still not clearly real. Bottom decides to attempt to transform his vision into art, as art is flexible and can thus depict events which defy reality.

When Bottom awakens from his dream, the last of the effects of the fairies’ mischief is cast off. While he recovers his senses the audience experiences a sort of awakening as well, as the setting transitions from the dreamy woodland back to the real world of Athens. Bottom still struggles to make sense of the division between real and unreal. Bottom remembers what happened in the woods, but he recognizes it would sound ridiculous to tell his companions that he had actually consorted with the fairy queen Titania. Thus he convinces himself that he must have been dreaming: “Methought I was- there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had- but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had” (IV.i.202-204).

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