Reading Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 3

Scene 1

Bottom.jpgSummary:  The band of Athenian workers meet up in the forest and begin rehearsing their play. Robin Goodfellow wanders in on them invisible and uses his magic to turn Bottom into a donkey-headed beast. When he comes around to read his lines the other actors freak out and run away. Thinking that they are playing a prank on him he begins to sing a song inadvertently waking up the sleeping Titania. When she wakes up the love spell takes effect and she falls in love with the donkey-headed Bottom, ordering her fairies to take him up to her sleeping bower.

Commentary: Another fun scene with the actors. Lots of good jokes, puns, and double meanings, and of course the sitcom level comedy of the Queen of the Faries falling in love with a donkey-headed Bottom.

Puck, when he runs into the actors, exclaims, “What hempen homespuns have we swaggering here.” Hempen homespuns is a pretty good insult for simple peasants.

I love the transmutation aspect. A donkey-headed fast-talking rogue like Bottom is hilarious.  Even better, the most beautiful queen of all faeries falls in lust with him and takes him up to her love nest.

Reading the play I sorta think that Bottom is a Shakespeare self-insert. He’s making fun of himself and the profession of acting and of course, the sophisticated women that fall in love with them. I think he’s saying that actors are asses.

Scene 2

Summary: Puck returns to Oberon and tells him about Titania falling in love with the Donkey-headed bottom when Demetrius and Hermia walk up arguing about Lysander. Hermia thinks that Demetrius hurt Lysander but in reality, he is off chasing Helena due to the love spell. Puck and Oberon realize that they enchanted the wrong Athenian and Oberon tells puck to enchant Demetrius and make him fall in love with Helena.Bottom2

Meanwhile, Helena being chased by Lysander wonder in. As soon as Demetrius sees her he falls in love due to the new spell put on him by Oberon. Now both of them are in love with Helena and she freaks out thinking that they are messing with her. Helena and Hermia argue, insult each other, and even get into some eye scratching and slapping. Meanwhile, the two men are both exceptionally mean to Hermia while professing undying love to Helena. After a while, they begin chasing each other in the forest meaning to fight.

Oberon and Puck decide to fix the situation so Puck uses his magic to confuse everybody and put them to sleep. Once asleep he removes the love spell from Lysander so he will go back loving Hermia.

Commentary: This is a big scene, lots of back and forth insults, professions of love, a catfight, and all sorts of hijinks. Some good insults are thrown about “get gone you dwarf. You minimus of hindering knotgrass made, you bead, you acorn-” Good stuff.

One thing that got my attention is the fact that when Puck removes the love spell he only removes it from Lysander, not Demetrius. Hmmmm….


Reading Shakespeare

Reading Shakespeare: Part 1

Reading Shakespeare: Part 2

Macbeth: Act 1

Macbeth: Act 2

Macbeth: Act 3

Macbeth: Act 4

Macbeth: Act 5

Reading Shakespeare: Moving on from Macbeth

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act 1

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act 2


2 thoughts on “Reading Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 3


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