Bottom

bottom

Background

Bottom is the play’s comic genius. We first meet him when the local village acting group (a bunch of miserable amateurs) meet to decide parts in their planned tragedy Pyramus and Thisbe.

He is a weaver by trade and an idiot in AMND; he demands attention at all stages and is never aware of how pompous and ridiculous he is, but has an unwavering belief that others view him as intelligent and talented.

What happens to him?

A1S2 Tries to take charge of the play, issuing suggestions (instructions) to Quince immediately. Absurdly confident of abilities and shows them off even at this stage and pleads to be allowed to play the two lead roles and, most comically of all, the lion.

A3S1 Bottom sensibly (snigger snigger) suggests that the play be sanitised so that it doesn’t offend or frighten any of the guests. A prologue explaining it is a play is, of course, necessary and the lion must confess to being human. An actor is cast as a wall for added realism.

Puck is impressed by Bottom’s buffoonery and decides to use him to play a trick on Titania. His face is transform to that of an ass. Ass = Bottom = his character.

Titania is bewitched into falling in love with him and other fairies begin to wait on him, which Bottom naturally takes in his stride. He’s an idiot with an ass’ head and he doesn’t see anything strange with this beautiful fairy Queen falling for him. Supreme arrogance!

A4S1 Bottom adjusts quickly to life with servants ordering them about in his pompous, but polite way. However, once he naps he wakes to find all this gone and decides it must’ve been a dream.

Of course, being Bottom, he decides that this episode is worthy of its own play – Bottom’s dream.

A4S2 The actors are worried – but fear not, Bottom is back and the show must go on!

A5S1 The play at Theseus’ wedding! Hilarious. Bottom makes sure to explain every possible, ridiculous confusion that could occur. Bottom (Pyramus) ends the play with a quite wonderfully over the top death that inspires the audience to applauds. He makes sure they know he’s not really dead though.

Characteristics/Personality

Pompous – thinks he is the bees knees and tries to raise himself to nobility through his overblown speeches and sense of self-importance.

Confident – an extension of above really. This is a classic case of someone being such an idiot that they believe their own hype. High lord or low peasant, Bottom can mix with them all.

Caring – okay, so again this is through idiocy, but noble nonetheless. He’s worried about frightening the ladies with his startling skills and the realism of the play within a play and later, as new lord of the fairies, he’s awfully gallant with Peaseblossom and crew.

Key Quotations

Bottom A1S2 ‘I will move storms’ – confident of his ability to move audience to tears and anger through acting mastery (hmmm!)

Quince A1S2 ‘you would fright the duchess and the ladies’ – talking about how Bottom’s convincing lion might not be such a good idea.

Bottom A3S1 ‘no I am no such thing, I am a man as other men are’ – thank the lord, Bottom has dealt with the issue of the lion being too terrifying by making him explain himself before the play begins.

Bottom A3S1 ‘this is to make an ass of me’ – yep, that’s literally what Puck has done, but Bottom thinks the others are just making fun of him.

Bottom A3S1 ‘reason and love keep little company together now-a-days’ – wow! A blithering idiot, but he sums up the whole play quite wonderfully here.

Bottom A5S1 ‘Deceiving me’ is Thisbe’s cue.’ – thank God that Bottom takes the time to step out of character to explain what’s going on to the Duke and party.

Relationships

Author: Mr Sir

Although I've only been teaching Literature since 2011 and did my degree in History, I think that makes me better placed than many Lit teachers to provide notes that make sense and aren't garbled and wrapped up with inaccessible terminology and effluent nonsense. After adventures in Uganda and Uzbekistan, I am now settling down in the Netherlands. However, currently I am just about as unsettled as I have ever been, with a new job, a new baby, a new country and a hundred other things going on! Ask me a question, collaborate or abuse me.

2 thoughts on “Bottom”

  1. Thank you for your notes. Your website helps me find ideas about strategies for classwork and revision for a level students.
    I will use colour cards for each character and ss will jot down their notes according to rubrics throughout the year.

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