known as Robin Goodfellow, Puck is Oberon’s jester, a mischievous
fairy who delights in playing pranks on mortals. Though A
Midsummer Night’s Dream
divides its action between several
groups of characters, Puck is the closest thing the play has to
a protagonist. His enchanting, mischievous spirit pervades the atmosphere,
and his antics are responsible for many of the complications that
propel the other main plots: he mistakes the young Athenians,
applying the love potion to Lysander instead of Demetrius, thereby causing
chaos within the group of young lovers; he also transforms Bottom’s
head into that of an ass.
in-depth analysis of Puck.
king of the fairies, Oberon is initially at odds with his wife,
Titania, because she refuses to relinquish control of a young Indian
prince whom he wants for a knight. Oberon’s desire for revenge on
Titania leads him to send Puck to obtain the love-potion flower
that creates so much of the play’s confusion and farce.
beautiful queen of the fairies, Titania resists the attempts of
her husband, Oberon, to make a knight of the young Indian prince
that she has been given. Titania’s brief, potion-induced love for
Nick Bottom, whose head Puck has transformed into that of an ass, yields
the play’s foremost example of the contrast motif.
young man of Athens, in love with Hermia. Lysander’s relationship
with Hermia invokes the theme of love’s difficulty: he cannot marry
her openly because Egeus, her father, wishes her to wed Demetrius;
when Lysander and Hermia run away into the forest, Lysander becomes
the victim of misapplied magic and wakes up in love with Helena.
young man of Athens, initially in love with Hermia and ultimately
in love with Helena. Demetrius’s obstinate pursuit of Hermia throws
love out of balance among the quartet of Athenian youths and precludes
a symmetrical two-couple arrangement.
daughter, a young woman of Athens. Hermia is in love with Lysander
and is a childhood friend of Helena. As a result of the fairies’
mischief with Oberon’s love potion, both Lysander and Demetrius suddenly
fall in love with Helena. Self-conscious about her short stature,
Hermia suspects that Helena has wooed the men with her height. By
morning, however, Puck has sorted matters out with the love potion,
and Lysander’s love for Hermia is restored.
young woman of Athens, in love with Demetrius. Demetrius and Helena
were once betrothed, but when Demetrius met Helena’s friend Hermia,
he fell in love with her and abandoned Helena. Lacking confidence
in her looks, Helena thinks that Demetrius and Lysander are mocking
her when the fairies’ mischief causes them to fall in love with
in-depth analysis of Helena.
father, who brings a complaint against his daughter to Theseus:
Egeus has given Demetrius permission to marry Hermia, but Hermia,
in love with Lysander, refuses to marry Demetrius. Egeus’s severe insistence
that Hermia either respect his wishes or be held accountable to
Athenian law places him squarely outside the whimsical dream realm
of the forest.
heroic duke of Athens, engaged to Hippolyta. Theseus represents
power and order throughout the play. He appears only at the beginning
and end of the story, removed from the dreamlike events of the forest.
legendary queen of the Amazons, engaged to Theseus. Like Theseus,
she symbolizes order.
overconfident weaver chosen to play Pyramus in the craftsmen’s play
for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Bottom is full of advice and
self-confidence but frequently makes silly mistakes and misuses
language. His simultaneous nonchalance about the beautiful Titania’s
sudden love for him and unawareness of the fact that Puck has transformed
his head into that of an ass mark the pinnacle of his foolish arrogance.
in-depth analysis of Nick Bottom.
carpenter and the nominal leader of the craftsmen’s attempt to put
on a play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Quince is often shoved
aside by the abundantly confident Bottom. During the craftsmen’s play,
Quince plays the Prologue.
bellows-mender chosen to play Thisbe in the craftsmen’s play for
Theseus’s marriage celebration. Forced to play a young girl in love,
the bearded craftsman determines to speak his lines in a high, squeaky
- The tailor chosen to play Thisbe’s mother in the craftsmen’s
play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. He ends up playing the
part of Moonshine.
tinker chosen to play Pyramus’s father in the craftsmen’s play for
Theseus’s marriage celebration. He ends up playing the part of Wall,
dividing the two lovers.
joiner chosen to play the lion in the craftsmen’s play for Theseus’s
marriage celebration. Snug worries that his roaring will frighten
the ladies in the audience.
Master of the Revels, responsible for organizing the entertainment
for the duke’s marriage celebration.
Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Mote, and Mustardseed
- The fairies ordered by Titania to attend to Bottom
after she falls in love with him.