Mechanicals in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
The “mechanicals” consist of Peter Quince (a carpenter), Snug (a
joiner), Nick Bottom (a weaver), Francis Flute (a bellows-mender), Tom
Snout (a tinker) and Robin Starveling (a tailor). We first come across
the “mechanicals” as they stumble into the woods to rehearse their
play, for the Royal Wedding of Helena and Demetrius, and, Hermia and
Lysander. This is when we realise that they are not very intelligent
or well spoken, “You were best to call them generally.” Bottom uses
the wrong word, he means ‘severally’ or ‘individually’ instead of
Shakespeare uses the “mechanicals” to provide comedy in the play and
to make it more light hearted. Also to take the focus off the lovers,
as if it was just about them it would be a romantic play and this
would probably be quite boring.
The play is full of many malapropisms and they contradict themselves a
lot, “the most lamentable comedy.” This doesn’t make sense as
‘lamentable’ means sad or disappointing. You can’t really have a sad,
tragic comedy, this is an example of an oxymoron.
Other examples of these contradictions are, “A monstrous little voice”
and “I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove.” It is impossible
to have a loud and little voice and young doves don’t tend to roar.
Other malapropisms they use are; “Thisby, the flowers of odious
savours sweet,” Bottom means odours, not odious. They make the mistake
of calling Ninus’ Tomb, ‘Ninny’s tomb.’ They do this several times
during the play. “He is very paramour for a sweet voice,’ Quince means
‘paragon’ as ‘paramour’ means lover which wouldn’t make…
… middle of paper …
…tly back to front as usually comic or low characters speak in
prose to show their low rank according to the introduction. The
“mechanicals” use occasional malapropisms or odd phrases. This could
be to show that they have to try harder to act like people from a
higher status but aren’t very good at it. This shows that they are not
supposed to be noble and will always be of an inferior class.
Today’s audience watching the play can still relate to the
“mechanicals” comic ways and embarrassing situations, the jokes used
then are still funny today so the play has managed to defy time and
people still find it interesting and amusing.
The presentation of the “mechanicals” is well done as it shows them as
very amusing, slightly stupid, working class people; I think this is
the effect that Shakespeare was trying to achieve.