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A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 2 Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 

A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 1, Scene 2



Athens. Quince's house

Enter QUINCE the carpenter and SNUG the joiner and BOTTOM the weaver and FLUTE the bellows-mender and SNOUT the tinker and STARVELING the tailor

Enter QUINCE the carpenter and SNUG the joiner and BOTTOM the weaver and FLUTE the bellows-mender and SNOUT the tinker and STARVELING the tailor

QUINCE

Is all our company here?

 

QUINCE

Is all our company here?

 

BOTTOM

You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip (paper).

generally: comic blunder – Bottom means “individually”

a bottom is a spindle or bobbin, used in weaving, Bottom’s trade

BOTTOM

You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip.

 

QUINCE

Here is the scroll of every man’s name which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and the duchess on his wedding day at night.

 

QUINCE

Here is the scroll of every man’s name which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his wedding day at night.

 

BOTTOM

First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point (come systematically to a conclusion).

 

BOTTOM

First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point.

 

QUINCE

Marry, our play is the most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.

marry=by the Virgin Mary

QUINCE

Marry, our play is The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.

 

BOTTOM

A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry.—Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll.—Masters, spread yourselves.

 

BOTTOM

A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry.—Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll.—Masters, spread yourselves.

 

QUINCE

Answer as I call you.—Nick Bottom, the weaver?

 

QUINCE

Answer as I call you.—Nick Bottom, the weaver?

 

BOTTOM

Ready. Name what part I am for and proceed.

 

BOTTOM

Ready. Name what part I am for and proceed.

 

QUINCE

You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.

 

QUINCE

You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.

 

BOTTOM

What is Pyramus? A lover or a tyrant?

 

BOTTOM

What is Pyramus? A lover or a tyrant?

 

QUINCE

A lover that kills himself, most gallant, for love.

 

QUINCE

A lover that kills himself, most gallant, for love.

 

BOTTOM

That will ask (require) some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes. I will move storms. I will condole in some measure.—To the rest (continue on with the rest of the cast).—Yet my chief humor (inclination) is for a tyrant. I could play Ercles (Hercules) rarely or a part to tear a cat in [two] (refers to a contemporary play with a raging character) to make all split (run from a bully).

The raging rocks

And shivering shocks

Shall break the locks

Of prison gates.

And Phoebus' car

   (the sun)

Shall shine from far

And make and mar

The foolish Fates.

This was lofty!—Now name the rest of the players.—This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant’s vein. A lover is more condoling.

 

 

BOTTOM

That will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes. I will move storms. I will condole in some measure.—To the rest.—Yet my chief humor is for a tyrant. I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in to make all split.

The raging rocks

And shivering shocks

Shall break the locks

Of prison gates.

And Phoebus' car

Shall shine from far

And make and mar

The foolish Fates.

This was lofty!—Now name the rest of the players.—This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant’s vein. A lover is more condoling.

 

QUINCE

Francis Flute, the bellows-mender?

 

QUINCE

Francis Flute, the bellows-mender?

 

FLUTE

Here, Peter Quince.

 

FLUTE

Here, Peter Quince.

 

QUINCE

Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.

 

QUINCE

Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.

 

FLUTE

What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?

 

FLUTE

What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?

 

QUINCE

It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

 

QUINCE

It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

 

FLUTE

Nay, faith, let me not play a woman. I have a beard coming.

 

FLUTE

Nay, faith, let me not play a woman. I have a beard coming.

 

QUINCE

That’s all one (that makes no difference). You shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.

 

QUINCE

That’s all one. You shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.

 

BOTTOM

An (if) I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe, too! I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice: “Thisne, Thisne!”—“Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear, thy Thisbe dear and lady dear!”

 

BOTTOM

An I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too! I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice: “Thisne, Thisne!”—“Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear, thy Thisbe dear and lady dear!”

 

QUINCE

No, no. You must play Pyramus.—And Flute, you, Thisbe.

 

QUINCE

No, no. You must play Pyramus.—And Flute, you Thisbe.

 

BOTTOM

Well, proceed.

 

BOTTOM

Well, proceed.

 

QUINCE

Robin Starveling, the tailor?

starveling – tailors had a reputation for being too thin

 

QUINCE

Robin Starveling, the tailor?

 

STARVELING

Here, Peter Quince.

 

STARVELING

Here, Peter Quince.

 

QUINCE

Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe’s mother.—Tom Snout, the tinker?

 

QUINCE

Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe’s mother.—Tom Snout, the tinker?

 

SNOUT

Here, Peter Quince.

 

SNOUT

Here, Peter Quince.

 

QUINCE

You, Pyramus' father.—Myself, Thisbe’s father.—Snug the joiner, you, the lion’s part.—And I hope here is a play fitted (outfitted with a cast).

 

QUINCE

You, Pyramus' father.—Myself, Thisbe’s father.—Snug the joiner, you, the lion’s part.—And I hope here is a play fitted.

 

SNUG

Have you the lion’s part written? Pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.

 

SNUG

Have you the lion’s part written? Pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.

 

QUINCE

You may do it extempore (off the cuff), for it is nothing but roaring.

 

QUINCE

You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.

 

BOTTOM

Let me play the lion, too. I will roar, [so] that I will do any man’s heart good to hear me. I will roar, [so] that I will make the duke say, “Let him roar again. Let him roar again.”

 

BOTTOM

Let me play the lion too. I will roar, that I will do any man’s heart good to hear me. I will roar, that I will make the duke say, “Let him roar again. Let him roar again.”

 

QUINCE

An (if) you should do it too terribly (terrifyingly), you would fright the duchess and the ladies, [so] that they would shriek. And that were enough to hang us all.

 

QUINCE

An you should do it too terribly, you would fright the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek. And that were enough to hang us all.

 

ALL

That would hang us, every mother’s son.

 

ALL

That would hang us, every mother’s son.

 

BOTTOM

I grant you, friends, if you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us. But I will aggravate (Bottom means moderate) my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove (sucking lamb plus sitting dove=sucking dove in Bottom’s language). I will roar you an ’twere any nightingale.

 

BOTTOM

I grant you, friends, if you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us. But I will aggravate my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove. I will roar you an ’twere any nightingale.

 

QUINCE

You can play no part but Pyramus, for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man, a proper [a] man as one shall see in a summer’s day, a most lovely, gentlemanlike man. Therefore you must needs play Pyramus.

 

QUINCE

You can play no part but Pyramus. For Pyramus is a sweet-faced man, a proper man as one shall see in a summer’s day, a most lovely, gentlemanlike man. Therefore you must needs play Pyramus.

 

BOTTOM

Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?

 

BOTTOM

Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?

 

QUINCE

Why, what you will.

 

QUINCE

Why, what you will.

 

BOTTOM

I will discharge it in either your straw-color beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-color beard, your perfect yellow.

French crown – a French coin

BOTTOM

I will discharge it in either your straw-color beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French crown-color beard, your perfect yellow.

 

QUINCE

Some of your French crowns (heads) have no hair at all, and then you will play barefaced.—But masters, here are your parts. And I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you to con them (learn them by heart) by tomorrow night and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without (outside) the town, by moonlight. There will we rehearse, for if we meet in the city we shall be dogged with company and our devices (plans) known. In the meantime, I will draw a bill of properties such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.

 

QUINCE

Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play barefaced.—But masters, here are your parts. And I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you to con them by tomorrow night and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moonlight. There will we rehearse, for if we meet in the city we shall be dogged with company, and our devices known. In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.

 

BOTTOM

We will meet, and there we may rehearse most obscenely (Bottom means scene-ly, dramatically) and courageously. Take pains. Be perfect. Adieu.

 

BOTTOM

We will meet, and there we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously. Take pains. Be perfect. Adieu.

 

QUINCE

At the duke’s oak we meet.

 

QUINCE

At the duke’s oak we meet.

 

BOTTOM

Enough. Hold or cut bowstrings (from archery, uncertain in meaning).

 

BOTTOM

Enough. Hold, or cut bowstrings.

 

Exeunt

Exeunt

 

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