The Role of Nick Bottom and the Significance of His Portrayal

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The Role of Nick Bottom and the Significance of His Portrayal

The significance and role of Nick Bottom is made prominent by Shakespeare. This is due to the fact that the play he is in is relevant not just to the text, but also to Shakespeare in terms of his personal life and in historical context. Nick Bottom is part of the mechanicals who are a group of six men who meet to rehearse and later perform a play. Five of the mechanicals are performers and one is a narrator. Nick Bottom plays Pyramus in this play. It is based around two characters that fall in love; however circumstances prevent them from seeing each other. The play is to be performed for Theseus and Hippolyta at their wedding. The
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As a result a law was passed preventing acting from taking place on the streets, as outside theatre groups were of a poor standard. Shakespeare used this criticism in order to show that he didn’t look highly on amateur acting performing his ‘art’. This is emphasised by Shakespeare by the way in which he portrays the mechanicals, with their incompetent acting skills.

In Act four, scene two, Bottom has a nightmare, it is the way that he deals with this nightmare which is not only crucial to understanding the character of Bottom, but also to the social commentaries that Shakespeare is making. He shows his fear but then turns it into a ballad, this illustrates the power of the text to take problems and fears and convert them into comedy. This is Shakespeare’s commentary on the nature of his work and its utility, of taking fear and making hilarity; yet another occasion when the character of Bottom shows his significance to the play.

There are several reasons why the play performed by the mechanicals is significant, to the overall play, as well as providing an element of comedy. This is shown by the resemblance of the characters between the plays. Pyramus and Thisbe face parental disapproval in the play within a play, similarly to Hermia and Lysander. Both plays also have a recurrent theme of romantic confusion; Pyramus believes that Thisbe has been killed by the lion, and the
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