Act III - Scene I

[The wood]

Enter the clowns, [Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, and Starveling]

Are we all met?
Pat, pat; and here's a marvellous convenient place
for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this
hawthorn-brake our tiring-house; and we will do it in
action, as we will do it before the Duke.(5)
Peter Quince,—
What sayest thou, bully Bottom?
There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and
Thisbe that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw a
sword to kill himself; which the ladies cannot abide. How(10)
answer you that?
By'r lakin, a parlous fear.
I believe we must leave the killing out, when all
is done.
Not a whit; I have a device to make all well. Write(15)
me a prologue; and let the prologue seem to say we will
do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus is not
kill'd indeed; and for the more better assurance, tell them
that I Pyramus am not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver.
This will put them out of fear.(20)
Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be
written in eight and six.
No, make it two more; let it be written in eight and
Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?(25)
I fear it, I promise you.
Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves to
bring in—God shield us!—a lion among ladies is a most
dreadful thing; for there is not a more fearful wild-fowl
than your lion living; and we ought to look to't.(30)
Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a
Nay, you must name his name, and half his face
must be seen through the lion's neck; and he himself
must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect:(35)
—‘Ladies,’ —or ‘Fair ladies,—I would wish you’—or ‘I
would request you’ —or ‘I would entreat you,—not to
fear, not to tremble. My life for yours! If you think I
come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life. No, I am
no such thing; I am a man as other men are.’ And there,(40)
indeed, let him name his name, and tell them plainly he
is Snug the joiner.
Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things;
that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber; for, you
know, Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight.(45)
Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?
A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanack;
find out moonshine, find out moonshine.
Yes, it doth shine that night.
Why, then may you leave a casement of the(50)
great chamber window, where we play, open; and the
moon may shine in at the casement.
Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of
thorns and a lantern, and say he comes to disfigure,
or to present, the person of moonshine. Then, there is(55)
another thing: we must have a wall in the great chamber;
for Pyramus and Thisbe, says the story, did talk
through the chink of a wall.
You can never bring in a wall. What say you,
Some man or other must present Wall; and let
him have some plaster, or some loam, or some rough-cast
about him, to signify wall; and let him hold his fingers
thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and
Thisbe whisper.(65)
If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down,
every mother's son, and rehearse your parts.
Pyramus, you begin; when you have spoken your speech, enter into that
brake; and so every one according to his cue.

Enter Robin [Goodfellow (Puck)]

What hempen home-spuns have we swagg'ring here,(70)
So near the cradle of the fairy queen?
What, a play toward! I'll be an auditor;
An actor too perhaps, if I see cause.
Speak, Pyramus. Thisbe, stand forth.
Thisbe, the flowers of odious savors sweet—(75)
‘Odours,’ odours!
—odours savors sweet;
So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisbe dear.
But hark, a voice! Stay thou but here awhile,
And by and by I will to thee appear.(80)

Exit Pyramus [Bottom]

A stranger Pyramus than e'er play'd here!


Must I speak now?
Ay, marry, must you; for you must understand he
goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come
Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
Of color like the red rose on triumphant brier,
Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew,
As true as truest horse, that would never tire,
I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb.(90)
‘Ninus’ tomb,' man! Why, you must not speak that
yet; that you answer to Pyramus. You speak all your part
at once, cues, and all. Pyramus enter: your cue is past; it is
‘never tire.’
O—As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.(95)

[Re-enter Puck, and Bottom with an ass's head]

If I were fair, Thisbe, I were only thine.
O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted. Pray,
masters! fly, masters! Help!

The clowns all exit. {Puck remains.]

I'll follow you; I'll lead you about a round,
Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier;(100)
Sometime a horse I'll be, sometime a hound,
A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire;
And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,
Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.


Enter [Bottom] with the Asshead

Why do they run away? This is a knavery of them(105)
to make me afeard.

[Re-]enter Snout

O Bottom, thou art changed! What do I see on
What do you see? You see an ass-head of your
own, do you?(110)

[Exit Snout]

[Re-]enter Peter Quince

Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee! Thou art translated.


I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me;
to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this
place, do what they can; I will walk up and down here,
and will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.(115)


The ousel cock, so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill.
[Awakening] What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?(120)
The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo gray,
Whose note full many a man doth mark,
And dares not answer nay;—(125)
for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird?
Who would give a bird the lie, though he cry ‘cuckoo’
never so?
I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again.
Mine ear is much enamored of thy note;(130)
So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;
And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me,
On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.
Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason
for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep(135)
little company together now-a-days. The more the pity
that some honest neighbors will not make them friends.
Nay, I can gleek upon occasion.
Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
Not so, neither; but if I had wit enough to get out(140)
of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn.
Out of this wood do not desire to go;
Thou shalt remain here whether thou wilt or no.
I am a spirit of no common rate;
The summer still doth tend upon my state;(145)
And I do love thee; therefore, go with me.
I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee;
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
And sing, while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep;
And I will purge thy mortal grossness so(150)
That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.
Peaseblossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed!

Enter four Fairies: Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed

And I.
And I.(155)
And I.
Where shall we go?
Be kind and courteous to this gentleman;
Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes;
Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,(160)
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees,
And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs,
And light them at the fiery glow-worm's eyes,
To have my love to bed and to arise;(165)
And pluck the wings from painted butterflies,
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes.
Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.
Hail, mortal!
I cry your worships mercy, heartily; I beseech
your worship's name.
I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good
Master Cobweb. If I cut my finger, I shall make bold
with you. Your name, honest gentleman?
I pray you, commend me to Mistress Squash, your(180)
mother, and to Master Peascod, your father. Good
Master Peaseblossom, I shall desire you of more
acquaintance too. Your name, I beseech you, sir?
Good Master Mustardseed, I know your(185)
patience well. That same cowardly giant-like ox-beef
hath devoured many a gentleman of your house. I promise
you your kindred hath made my eyes water ere now.
I desire your more acquaintance, good Master
Come, wait upon him; lead him to my bower.
The moon, methinks, looks with a watery eye;
And when she weeps, weeps every little flower;
Lamenting some enforced chastity.
Tie up my love's tongue, bring him silently.(195)



  1. Titania, under the influence of Oberon’s love juice, has declared her love for the ass-headed Bottom. Her declaration here also introduces a negative aspect of love: jealousy. Since Titania is the more powerful and a jealous lover, she attempts to use her power to completely overpower Bottom’s own wishes so that she can have complete control over her love object.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Having heard Bottom say that women might not be able to cope with his character killing himself on stage, Snout utters this oath to express his agreement. The expression “by’r lakin” is a shortening of “By our lady,” (a reference to the Virgin Mary) and the adjective “parlous” means “perilous.” Snout is therefore saying that Bottom has pointed out a real problem with their play, which the audience will know is not a real issue. As the clowns continue to practice their play, they continue to make errors and demonstrate their ineptitude with carrying on a performance.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Here, the men are arguing about the meter of the play. When Quince says that the play’s prologue should be “written in eight and six,” he is referring to the traditional English ballad meter that featured alternating lines of eight and six syllables rhyming ABAB. Bottom suggests that they write in the style of “eight and eight,” thinking that the extra syllables would make the meter more grand. However, this actually illustrates Bottom’s lack of familiarity with poetic forms, since he does not seem to understand Quince’s reference.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Having seen the clowns working on their play, Puck decides to have his own fun by orchestrating a play of his own. This not only reveals his desire to create mischief, but it also provides another example of a character trying to act as a playwright within the play by forcing others to act out roles.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Bottom means to say “odorous,” which today generally describes anything that gives off a scent, but which originally meant sweet-smelling and pleasantly fragrant. However, he botches his line and describes Thisbe as “odious” meaning hated, again emphasizing the lack of acting talent these men have.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Bottom claims that his fellows are trying to make him an “ass,” or appear foolish by their “knavery,” or their making fun of him. What he doesn’t know is that Puck has literally given him the head of an ass, or a donkey, making this statement quite ironic.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. Bottom, still full of self-importance, tells Titania that it doesn’t really make any logical sense for her to love him. His observation that reason and love often have little to do with one another actually has some wisdom to it: the irrational nature of love is a pervasive theme throughout the play.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor