Discuss the role of the Mechanicals and the significance of their play in this text

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Simon Sharp 4 More                2nd January 2004

A.D.                 English Coursework

Discuss the role of Nick Bottom and the significance of his portrayal in this text

The significance and role of Nick Bottom is made prominent by Shakespeare. This is due to the fact that the play he is in is relevant not just to the text, but also to Shakespeare in terms of his personal life and in historical context. Nick Bottom is part of the mechanicals who are a group of six men who meet to rehearse and later perform a play. Five of the mechanicals are performers and one is a narrator. Nick Bottom plays Pyramus in this play. It is based around two characters that fall in love; however circumstances prevent them from seeing each other. The play is to be performed for Theseus and Hippolyta at their wedding. The Mechanicals are a group of six men who would have been examples of ordinary men in Shakespeare’s day. People’s reaction to the play in Shakespeare’s day is important in the analysis of this play.

The mechanicals are significant to the overall play in their resemblance to amateur actors of the Shakespeare’s time. Shakespeare depicts the mechanicals as stereotypes of amateur actors of his day who were usually extremely poor. This is illustrated in the play through the unprofessional portrayal of Bottom. This is highlighted by the point in the play when Nick Bottom talks to the audience:

‘No, in truth sir, he should not. ‘Deceiving me’ is Thisbe’s cue. She is to enter now, and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall see it will fall pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.’

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Bottom comes out of character in this speech to the audience. It is this that Shakespeare wants to highlight as a critique of amateur actors in his day.

Acting had become a very popular pastime amongst many people at the time, however the majority did not partake. As a result a law was passed preventing acting from taking place on the streets, as outside theatre groups were of a poor standard. Shakespeare used this criticism in order to show that he didn’t look highly on amateur acting performing his ‘art’. This is emphasised by Shakespeare by the way in ...

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