How does Shakespeare present Bottom as a humorous character

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Bjoern Nielsen,

March 24, 2009

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

How does Shakespeare present Bottom as
a humorous character in
Act 3, Scene 1?

In his play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, William Shakespeare is presenting his character Bottom, as one of the somewhat witty characters. That is especially to be seen in Act 3, Scene 1, in which Bottom has his head transformed into a donkey’s head.

One of the first things that clearly show the idiocy of Bottom is how he always thinks, that he the greatest of all; his pompous attitude. It’s like he wants everyone to look at him, he wants to speak more, such as when he wants the prologue, to be in eight and eight instead of eight six, which is actually what Shakespeare used to write his prologues in. – Shakespeare makes Bottom, who is a fictional character that he invented himself, show a discrepancy with what Shakespeare usually does. – It’s like he’s telling his own creator, that “You don’t know how to carry out a good play, why don’t you just sit down, while I tell you how to do it the right way”.


He keeps on saying: “I’m the best, I’m the best!” while, as shown by his constant slip-ups, it’s clear that he’s definitely not the brightest, like when he’s shouting some sort of sonnet, to show that ‘he knows what he’s doing but he says a lot of it wrong and uses some of the words mistaken. – A thing Shakespeare does deliberately to make Bottom even more humorous, which is called Dramatic irony, when Bottom is unknowing, that he’s doing something wrong and just goes on doing it, while the audience is aware of the funny thing, which is another good reason for them to express their amusement. Like when Bottom’s got the ass head on, he doesn’t know why his mates are starting to flee from him, so he starts calling the asses, as if they were the ones with the ass head on.

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It’s obvious that William Shakespeare has done quite a lot to prove, that Bottom is a stupid character.

One of the things he’s done is Bottom’s pretty stupid ideas, about how the actors should perform their play without frightening the ladies amongst the audience. (Perhaps Shakespeare’s experienced this himself sometime. The inspiration has to come from somewhere)


The play happens to involve a swords being drawn by one the actors, hereafter the actor will pretend to kill himself with it.

        In Bottoms opinion, the ladies wouldn’t like that, so he comes up with this “brilliant” idea of writing ...

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