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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare
Summary

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

2) Why do Peter Quince and his fellow craftsmen want to perform a play for Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding?

The band of craftsmen want to perform a play at the Athenian nobles’ wedding because they hope their performance will win be rewarded with money. However, their motivation doesn’t become clear until Act IV. The group returns to Athens without Bottom, fearing that they’ve lost their chances at performing. Snug laments, “If our sport / had gone forward, we had all been made men” (IV.ii.). Flute says that Bottom has “lost sixpence a day.” Apparently, the craftsmen believe that their performance would have won them each an ongoing income from Theseus, and Bottom in particular would have performed so well that Theseus would have awarded him a pension of sixpence a day. This economic motivation for performing underscores the enormous class difference between the craftsmen and the nobles. Class difference also contributes to the subtle irony of Peter Quince’s prologue, which he recites with incorrect punctuation so that he ends up saying the opposite of what he means: “If we offend, it is with our good will” (V.i.). Although humorous, Quince’s mistake quietly suggests the tension between socioeconomic classes.