If he come not, then the play is marred. It is Bully Bottom who, by reason of his special quality, holds firmly together the gossamer structure of that most aery fabric of a vision which is Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. It is not a quality to be easily defined. The French have a word for it. Bottom is débrouillard—equal to all occasions and at home wherever he may be. Nothing can disconcert or put him down or prevent him from being entirely and happily himself. He wears an ass’s head as imperturbably as he bestows advice upon his rustic companions or corrects Duke Theseus for suggesting that Wall should speak out of his cue. He has been rated for conceit and pushing himself forward overmuch. But that is unjust. He engrosses the play not because he is obtrusive, but because he is ingenuously eager to meet all occasions and to throw himself into any part in life that offers. Nor does his love of life exceed his ability to cope with it. He does not unduly press either himself or his suggestions on the company but yields with good grace to the common voice.


Comic Character Green Plot Good Dancing English Theatre Judgment Taste 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1946

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Palmer

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