The Character of Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

The Character of Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

In this exercise there will be an in depth analysis of Bottom the

weaver and to what extent his folly may morph into wisdom of various

sorts. This exercise will attempt to describe how Bottom is both

foolish and wise (wise in his foolishness and foolish in his wisdom).

The exercise will also analyse the parody found within the texts

spoken by Bottom and that of Corinthians and the possible implications

it might have on the level of wisdom to which Bottom can be judged.

Bottom’s monologue in act 4.1.211 line 205- 207 states the following:

“ 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!”

If we compare this to the King James version (1611) of 1 Corinthians

2: 9-10 we can see, to a large extent, that they are extremely similar

and is indeed a parody:

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart

of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But

God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit: for the spirit searches

all things, yea, the deep things of God”

The Geneva Bible (1557) however renders the last verse in the

following ways:

“ The Spirite searcheth all thinges, ye the botome of Goddes


It is thus highly likely that Bottom received his name from Paul’s

letter in old versions of Scripture that were used during

Shakespeare’s time. And Bottom himself, so to speak, would be from

‘top to bottom’, the ‘Bottom translation’ of God’s secrets. (Brook


Furthermore the weaver both ‘overwrites’ and ‘underwrites’ the text of

Corinthians and in doing so, he weaves a new garment from the old

text, incarnating the Scripture and the word of God.

It is then almost inconceivable to assume that Bottom does not serve a

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