A character study of Nick Bottom Essay
A character study of Nick Bottom
The play ” Midsummer night’s Dream” was written by William Shakespeare in 1595 and is set in Athens, Greece. The play features four main groups of people, the court, the lovers, the rude mechanicals and the fairies, all of which are linked by love, marriage, the night and the natural world. The title is paradoxical as, when the compound word “midsummer” is used it conjures a picture of the play taking place during a joyful and enjoyable time, whereas the word “night” implies that the play occurs during a dark and frightening time.
The oxymoronic title gives the impression that the play is unreal and magical. Nick Bottom is a lower class weaver who considers himself to be a very important and professional person, as he dresses very smartly in the modern film version of the play. This gives us the impression that he is very conceited about himself as well as his appearance. In Act I Scene (ii) Bottom is introduced to the play as the mechanicals gather to determine the roles of each character.
Immediately Bottom tries to take control of the situation, as he says ” First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on; then read the name of the actors; and so grow to a point”. This shows that Bottom is very bossy, and that he thinks that he is the leader, as he gives Quince precise orders to follow. This also shows that he is a very committed actor as he is very eager to know his role in the play. Bottom becomes full of himself and very pompous as he begins to beseech for various parts of the play, as he says, ” let me play Thisbe too.
I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice”. In my opinion this shows how ardent and desperate he is for glory, as he searches for more parts to play. Bottom then asks to act the part of the lion, but is refused by Quince, as he feels that Nick’s acting is of such a high quality that he may frighten the ladies. Bottom says “I will roar that I will make the duke say let him roar again, let him roar again”, which shows how self-centred and ambitious he is.
Quince then replies by saying “And you should do it too, terribly, you would frighten the duchess and the ladies that they would shriek; and that were enough to hang us all”. This shows that Quince looks up to Bottom as a great actor and a leader, as he is very go-getting and Quince believes that he is so good he will actually scare the ladies. In the modern film of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Bottom is also very dramatic and emotional, as he appears to be very prestigious and egotistical.
He is very dramatic as he suddenly feels an urge to act, and becomes inspired by himself, as he shouts phrases such as “The raging rocks and shivering shocks shall break the locks of prison gates, and Phibbus’ car shall shine from far, and make and mar the foolish fates”, which are out of his own inspiration and imagination. Bottom is also very prestigious and egotistical in the sense that he only cares about himself, as he wants to act all of the parts in the play.
Bottom also appears to be very emotional, as during one point in the play he is very excited and joyous, whereas he suddenly becomes sad and unhappy. This occurs when Bottom tries to act various parts of the play and someone throws a bucket of water on him. This not only shows what other people think of him, but how foolish he is to actually think that hi is a good actor. As the mechanicals go to the woods to rehearse, Bottom makes himself seem even more foolish as he says, “First, Pyramus must draw a sword and kill himself, whom the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that? “.
This implies that Bottom is so confident that their acting is good that they will scare the ladies. Shortly after Bottom suggests an idea of a prologue to inform the women that Pyramus is not really dead. He says “Not a whit; I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue, and let the prologue seem to say we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus is not killed indeed”. At this point Shakespeare is expressing how silly the mechanicals were becoming, as they were thinking that they were so good that they needed a prologue, so that they do not frighten the audience.
Throughout the play Bottom really thinks he’s something really special for a number of the following reasons. Firstly, he comes up with ideas such as the prologue and thinks that he is such a good actor. Secondly, he actually deems that Titania is in love with him and that he is so handsome and good looking, but wakes up and wonders if it is all a dream. Thirdly, Bottom sees a statue that reminds him of his ‘dream’ and requests a ballad thinking that it was his destiny to perform his dream.
He thinks that God has sent him a message to perform the dream and name it “Bottom’s Dream”. This tells us that Bottom is very imprudent, as he is silly enough to think that God has sent him a message just to perform his dream. Bottom seems more foolish and stupid, as the play continues as he makes continual malapropisms, by mistaking the words ‘devourer’ for ‘deflower’ and also ‘ninny’ instead of ‘ninus tonb’. Another way is when his head is turned into an ass’s head, which matches his behaviour and attitude and makes the play seem more and more surreal.
Before the entrance to the wedding, the mechanicals were waiting for Bottom and when he arrived there was a big cheer, which shows that they really looked up to Bottom, as he was an inspiration to them. When the mechanicals are selected to perform, they are delighted, not knowing that they are only being chosen for the Duke’s and Duchess’s amusement. They begin to perform and are laughed at when the wall is seen, as there is a man standing with his arms spread out, covered with a sheet of paper with bricks painted on it but still continue to amuse the guests.
Then poor vocabulary is used, which shows that they are uneducated when they say, “I see a voice” “hear his face”. At the end Bottom steps in and kills himself, which ends the play and pleases the crowd. Bottom thinks that he is the hero but does not know that everyone was clapping because they were amused. Overall I think that Bottom is a very self-absorbed and shameless person, as he only cares about himself and is very unabashed as seen when their play was acted.
Nick Bottom is also a fool as he is always the last one to understand the joke, and he does not know when people are laughing at him. He is also very foolish and big-headed as he thinks that he is supposed to perform his dream, as a message from God. In synopsis I think that Shakespeare is trying to show how lower class people were treated, and how foolish, nai?? ve and over-ambitious people like Nick Bottom were. However, Shakespeare could have also meant that if you have a dream or an ambition that you should go for it and try to achieve something, like Bottom did.