A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Important Quotations Explained

4
I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about t’expound this dream. Methought I was—there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had—but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream’, because it hath no bottom.

Bottom makes this bombastic speech after he wakes up from his adventure with Titania; his human head restored, he believes that his experience as an ass-headed monster beloved by the beautiful fairy queen was merely a bizarre dream (IV.i.199–209). He remarks dramatically that his dream is beyond human comprehension; then, contradicting himself, he says that he will ask Quince to write a ballad about this dream. These lines are important partially because they offer humorous commentary on the theme of dreams throughout the play but also because they crystallize much of what is so lovable and amusing about Bottom. His overabundant self-confidence burbles out in his grandiose idea that although no one could possibly understand his dream, it is worthy of being immortalized in a poem. His tendency to make melodramatic rhetorical mistakes manifests itself plentifully, particularly in his comically mixed-up association of body parts and senses: he suggests that eyes can hear, ears see, hands taste, tongues think, and hearts speak.