Act I - Scene II


Enter Quince the Carpenter, Snug the Joiner, Bottom the Weaver, Flute the Bellows-mender, Snout the Tinker, and Starveling the Tailor

Is all our company here?
You were best to call them generally, man by
man, according to the scrip.
Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is
thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude(5)
before the duke and the duchess on his wedding-day at
First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
on; then read the names of the actors; and so grow to a
point. (10)
Marry, our play is, The Most Lamentable Comedy
and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe.
A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a
merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors
by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.(15)
Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.
Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.
You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
What is Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant?
A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.(20)
That will ask some tears in the true performing of
it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will
move storms; I will condole in some measure. To the
rest: yet my chief humor is for a tyrant. I could play
Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all(25)
‘The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates;(30)
And Phibbus' car
Shall shine from far,
And make and mar
The foolish Fates.'
This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players. This is(35)
Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein: a lover is more condoling.
Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
Here, Peter Quince.
Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.
What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?(40)
It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
Nay, faith, let not me play a woman; I have a beard
That's all one; you shall play it in a mask, and you
may speak as small as you will.(45)
An I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too. I'll
speak in a monstrous little voice: ‘Thisne, Thisne!’ [Then
speaking small] ‘Ah Pyramus, my lover dear! Thy Thisbe
dear, and lady dear!’
No, no, you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you(50)
Well, proceed.
Robin Starveling, the tailor.
Here, Peter Quince.
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe's mother.(55)
Tom Snout, the tinker.
Here, Peter Quince.
You, Pyramus' father; myself, Thisbe's father; Snug,
the joiner, you, the lion's part. And, I hope, here is a play
fitted. (60)
Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be,
give it me, for I am slow of study.
You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but
Let me play the lion too. I will roar that I will do(65)
any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will
make the duke say ‘Let him roar again, let him roar again.’
An you should do it too terribly, you would fright
the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek; and
that were enough to hang us all.(70)
That would hang us, every mother's son.
I grant you, friends, if you should fright the ladies
out of their wits, they would have no more discretion
but to hang us; but I will aggravate my voice so, that I
will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar(75)
you an't were any nightingale.
You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is
a sweet-faced man; a proper man, as one shall see in a
summer's day; a most lovely gentleman-like man; therefore
you must needs play Pyramus.(80)
Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best
to play it in?
Why, what you will.
I will discharge it in either your straw color
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain(85)
beard, or your French crown color beard, your perfect
Some of your French crowns have no hair at all,
and then you will play barefaced. But, masters, here are
your parts; and I am to entreat you, request you, and(90)
desire you, to con them by tomorrow night; and meet
me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by
moonlight; there will we rehearse; for if we meet in the
city, we shall be dogg'd with company, and our devices
known. In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties,(95)
such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.
We will meet; and there we may rehearse most
obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect;
At the duke's oak we meet.(100)
Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.



  1. Bottom’s constant interruptions and self-aggrandizing claims along with the other “wanna-be” actors’ problems and issues with the story reveal them all to be ridiculous, comic, and silly characters. Bottom in particular is portrayed as boastful and foolish, claiming that his acting can make an audience cry and also change the physical environment. His example monologue here further reinforces this portrayal, due to its childish style and rhyme scheme robbing it of any grandiloquence. So, through Bottom and the others, Shakespeare establishes his foundation for parodying the conventions of romance stories as well as the theater.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Notice here how Flute complains about playing a woman because of his beard. By having Flute express this problem, Shakespeare was most likely mocking the rules during the Elizabethan era that prohibited women from being actors.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Quince tells everyone that this play is about lovers who die for love, which is almost the exact same situation that Lysander and Hermia are facing. This not only reinforces the play-within-a-play theme by parodying the main stories events, but it also extends to a more common romance trope that true love is worth dying for.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. By incorporating these laborers and their desire to put on a performance, Shakespeare introduces the theme of a play within a play, which has several important functions in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: the laborers’ mistakes and attempts to put on a show introduce more humorous strains into the tale, Shakespeare is able to comment more broadly on the nature of art and the theater, and the laborers’ play will parody many of the main events in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, keeping the tone light and comical.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor