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Role of the Craftsmen

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Introduction

Describe the function of Bottom and his fellow craftsmen in the play. Bottom and his fellow craftsmen are bubbly, animated and optimistic to a fault. With their amiable exuberance and whole-hearted cheerfulness, they are often seen as the most likeable characters in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. In terms of function, their presence serves to create humour and act as a foil to the upper echelons of Athenian society. With their play-within a play, Shakespeare also creates a parody of youthful impassioned love and a sturdy reminder of reality amidst all the magic and chaos in the forest. Bottom and his fellow craftsmen with their good-humoured disposition create humour through their amusing malapropisms and unsophisticated poetry. For instance the craftsmen often use words out of context to hilarious results, like when Flute as Thisbe calls Pyramus 'Jew' when he probably meant jewel. To fully understand the humour here, one must realize that in Shakespearean times, Jews were widely loathed and thus would be the opposite of 'jewel, thereby thoroughly tickling an Elizabethan audience. Another example of this is when Bottom as Pyramus mistakenly asks Thisbe to meet him at 'Ninny's' instead of 'Ninus' Tomb'. Here, a ninny refers to an imbecile, whereas Ninus' refers to the legendary founder of Nineveh. ...read more.

Middle

Theseus' line has a more distinct rhythm, whereas Bottom's seem s to be just prose. Though both lines contain equally important messages, there is symbolism in Theseus' words, for when he says 'blood' he actually means passions. On the other hand Bottom makes his statement plainly without embellishment. This in turn also reflects how the Craftsmen, live plainly whereas the nobles such as Theseus live in excess, even having 'a manager of mirth' 'to ease the anguish of a torturing hour'. Thus through the craftsmen, Shakespeare creates a more holistic society that not only comprises of the rich nobles, but the normal laymen which the Bottom and his comrades represent. Furthermore, Shakespeare uses the craftsmen and their play to create a parody of the romantic love seen in the earlier part of the play. The craftsmen's play tells the story of 'Pyramus and Thisbe', which is not so dissimilar from what the four Athenian lovers face in the woods. Like Lysander and Hermia, Pyramus and Thisbe too face parental disapproval, and their decision to meet by 'Ninus' tomb' at night, mirrors Hermia and Lysander's decision to meet ' in the wood a league without the town'. ...read more.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, the play-within-a-play closely parallels the situations the Athenian youths faced in the woods. However, the ending of 'Pyramus and Thisbe' was tragic, Pyramus stabbing himself with 'bloody blameful blade' and Thisbe committing suicide likewise. This serves to remind the audience that even though Lysander and Hermia as well as Demetrius and Helena end up 'eternally... knit', consummating their love, it could well have been a tragic ending for the four, with the two men intent on dueling each other in the woods. Hence Shakespeare uses the craftsmen to warn the young lovers, like the Athenians, in the audience not to take happy endings for granted, but instead to be prepared for worse by being grounded in reality like the craftsmen. In conclusion, the craftsmen are very significant to the play as they give it a more holistic feel, encompassing not only the rich nobles but also the middle class workers whom the craftsmen represent. Furthermore, since 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is a comedy, the craftsmen's contribution to the humour of the play is also very important. Shakespeare also uses the craftsmen and their play to poke fun at the young lovers for their 'misprised moods', as well as to warn the audience not to take happy endings for granted. Overall, the irrepressible craftsmen bring laughter, lessons and more laughter to 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. ...read more.

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