A Midsummer Night's Dream

Bottom's Role: The Importance of Being an Ass College

A Midnight Summer’s Dream is exceptional in that it features more than just one story unfolding at once. Although the quartet of lovers and the fairy world is often the focus of the play, the rude mechanicals and their attempts to produce a play of their own takes place in a world quite separate from the major plot. In other words, although the rude mechanicals are in the same story as the other characters, the rude mechanicals (excluding Bottom) do not have direct exposure to the other “main” characters until the very end. Among the rude mechanicals, the character Nick Bottom—through his overconfidence, comical incompetence, and lack of self-awareness—is the most pronounced. Moreover, Bottom, unlike the other rude mechanicals, is the only human in the story to have direct contact with both the world of Athens (reality) and the world of fairies (dream). The odd juxtaposition of these two factors, Bottom’s ridiculousness and his integral role in bringing the theme of dream versus reality to life, brings the reader to the question of purpose. Why would Shakespeare make such an imbecile of a character to be the crux of one of the major themes in the story? The key to the meaning of Bottom’s role is seen in the fact that he,...

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