A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

QUINCE

Well. We will have such a prologue, and it shall be written in eight and six.

QUINCE

All right, we’ll have a prologue then. We’ll write it in alternating eight- and six-syllable lines, just like in a ballad.

BOTTOM

10No, make it two more. Let it be written in eight and eight.

BOTTOM

No, add a couple more syllables. Make it eight and eight.

SNOUT

Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?

SNOUT

Won’t the ladies be scared of the lion?

STARVELING

I fear it, I promise you.

STARVELING

I’m really worried about that.

BOTTOM

Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves. To bring in—God shield us!—a lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing. For there is not a more fearful wildfowl than your lion living. And we ought to look to ’t.

BOTTOM

Sirs, you ought to think to yourself, bringing in—God forbid!—a lion amongst ladies is really terrible. There’s no scarier wild bird than the living lion, and we should remember that.

SNOUT

Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion.

SNOUT

So we need another prologue to tell everyone he’s not a real lion.

BOTTOM

15Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be seen through the lion’s neck. And he himself must speak through, saying thus—or to the same defect—“Ladies,” or “Fair ladies,” “I would wish you” or “I would request you” or “I would entreat you” “not to fear, not to tremble, my life for yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life. No, I am no such thing. I am a man as other men are.” And there indeed let him name his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug the joiner.

BOTTOM

No, we can just announce the actor’s name, and let his face show through the lion costume, and have him say something himself. He should say the following, or something else to the same

defect

Bottom means to say “something to the same effect.”

defect
—“Ladies,” or “Lovely ladies,” “I would like to ask you” or “I would like to request of you” or “I would like to beg you” “not to be afraid, and not to tremble with fear. I value your lives as highly as my own. If you thought I was a real lion, I would be risking my life. But no, I am not at all a lion. I am a man, just like other men.” And then he should say his name, and tell them plainly that he’s Snug the carpenter.

QUINCE

Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things: that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber. For, you know, Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight.

QUINCE

All right, that’s what we’ll do then. But there are two things we still have to figure out. How are we going to bring moonlight into a room? Because, you know, Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight.