A Midsummer Night's Dream - Look at the presentation of the play within the play by the Mechanicals in Act 5: 1 What is there in this performance that will interest and amuse the audience?

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Thomas Kibata        Page         02/05/2007

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Look at the presentation of the play within the play by the Mechanicals in Act 5: 1

What is there in this performance that will interest and amuse the audience?

In the second scene that completes Act I, we are introduced to an extraordinary group of familiar but outlandish comical characters that have been enlightened with the possibility of performing a stage interlude as part of the entertainment at the quick approaching marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta.

The Mechanicals are not only thought of as the ‘rude mechanicals’, they are also thought of as sweet and gentle folk who have had no promoting purpose in their lives until now.

 Peter Quince play as one of the mechanicals as the Playwright for the amateurs. We are able to tell that he is more experienced in writing as Shakespeare makes him present his prologue which is a masterpiece of writing deliberately ruined to give the play a comical beginning. Shakespeare does this by making Quince seem like a very smart man, the smartest out of the mechanicals and we know this because he is directing the play and not actually featuring it. This shows us the audience that he has a shy character although he seems very excited and open towards the beginning of the play when actually he seems to have Stage fright.

Nick Bottom the Weaver seems however to be very enthusiastic and wants to play all the roles, furthermore he always tends to overact which annoys Peter Quince but ends up acting the part of Pyramus in the Act 5 Scene 1.

Francis Flute the Bellows Mender is played as a young man. At the beginning of the play he points out that he's just getting his facial hair in order not to end up playing Thisbe but he is still chosen despite that as he seems the youngest and more feminine like.

This in a way is used to show us the method and type of people who would play women in plays. It is also purposely used by Shakespeare to show us that Flute is a gentle character and is very self-conscious. On the other hand we could also say that Shakespeare is using scenes like Act 1 Scene 2 to mock or rather ridicule his theatrical practices.      

Robin Starveling the Tailor plays the part of the moon. He seems to forget his lines, and explains who he is in prose.

Snug the Joiner who says, "I am slow of study" but is told that the lion need only roar. Eventually Snug does learn a few lines.

Tom Snout the Tinker is simple minded and so is put to play as the wall.

These three characters, Robin, Tom and Snug, have a direct link as they are the discarded mechanicals in view of the fact that they are or rather seem to be illiterate as there parts are very simple and anyone can play them. By this I mean to show that Shakespeare has used them to show the type of people he has had to deal with in his Theatrical life. So it seems again as if he is deliberately mocking his own work and also the work of poets in order to make the play hilarious for the audience as he does this in lines 2 to 22 in Act 5 Scene 1.

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The lunatic, the lover, and the poet  

Are of imagination all compact:  

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold;  

That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,  

Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt.  

The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;

And as imagination bodies forth

At the beginning of act 5 we find ourselves in the palace, where Theseus and Hippolyta return with their guests, who await some form of after dinner entertainment. Theseus has Philostrate read ...

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