The Character of Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Considered one of William Shakespeare’s greatest plays, A Midsummer Nights Dream reads like a fantastical, imaginative tale; however, its poetic lines contain a message of love, reality, and chance that are not usually present in works of such kind. All characters in the play are playful, careless and thoughtless, and Puck: one of the central characters in the play: is significant to the plot, tone, and meaning of A Midsummer Nights Dream, thus becoming a representative of the above-mentioned themes.
The plot in this one of Shakespeare’s plays is comical and, at times, ironic. As summarized by Puck in the last stanza of the play:
If we shadows have offended
Think but this, and all is mended:
That you have but slumb’red here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme
No more yielding but a dream
Gentles do not reprehend: If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck
If we have unearned luck
Now to scape the serpent’s tongue
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call:
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restorer amends. (Shakespeare 89)
Puck suggests to both the watchers and, consequently, to the readers, that if they did not enjoy the tale, they should pretend it was a dream: a notion so convincing that at times the audience is left bewildered; this effect of his works made Shakespeare seem so cunning, like Puck. The lines above formulate the ending of the play to be ironic and humorous, much in the same way as the rest of the story was told. The general plot, with certain char…
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…ctions and attributes of other characters and Puck helps contribute to deceitful aura of the play. Another key factor of this play were its many inclinations toward a comical relief and Puck’s involvements of making mishaps occur. The mood, implication, and scheme are all carefully weaved together in the play, with Puck being a symbol or a catalyst for nearly every one of them.
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. New York. 1997.
Briggs, Katharine M. The Anatomy of Puck. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1959.
Nevo, Ruth. Comic Transformations in Shakespeare. New York: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, 1981.
Rhoades, Duane. Shakespeare’s Defense of Poetry: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest”. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press,1986.