An Essay on William Shakespeare's A
Midsummer Night’s Dream
The role and character of Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, in A Midsummer
Night’s Dream, is not only entertaining but quite useful.
William Shakespeare seems to have created the character of Puck from his
own childhood. In Shakespeare’s time it was believed that fairies and
little people did exist. Whenever something went wrong around the
farmyard or house or village, incidents such as buckets of milk
‘accidentally’ spilling over, or tools suddenly disappearing, or doors
opening for no reason, it was blamed on ‘those damn little people!’.
The idea of Puck’s character is a lovely one. One can’t help but be
attracted to him and his innocent, little pranks. He is also known by
the name Robin Goodfellow. The audience can only see this ‘Robin
Goodfellow’ side of Puck when he is trying to fix something he
disrupted, hence the name Goodfellow
When compared to Oberon, King of the Fairies and Titania, Queen of the
Fairies and the remaining fairies of the play, Puck does not seem to fit
in as well. While Oberon and Titania belong to the forest and the world
of dainty fairies, a small village setting seems more appropriate for
Puck. He is the type of fairy that likes to be around mortals and cause
them trouble, as opposed to other fairies. This is why Puck’s little job
with a love potion and a young couple is perfect for him and he perfect
for the job.
Puck is a likable character who tends to create mischief around himself.
Everything is a game to crafty little Puck. Yet once he realizes that he
has caused a problem he will make sure to the best of his ability and
power that it is rectified. As in the scene with Hermia and Lysander,
and Helena and Demetrius. When Puck mistook Lysander for Demetrius
(Shakespeare conveniently had the characters look alike or ‘only
slightly individualized’) and dropped the love-juice into Lysander’s
eyes and then (with help from Oberon) realized what he had done he knew
he had to fix it.
Shakespeare conveniently created ‘Puck’ to add some probability to the
play. Since the typical audience believed in fairies and little people,
Puck could be convincing in his role. It is possibly, even today, more
plausible to have a little fairy running around causing problems than to
have to try and believe that fate and destiny were the cause of all the
joy, sadness and badluck.
When William Shakespeare created ‘Puck’ it seems as though the play got
much more out of the character than intended. This is nice however, as
the audience we tend to like Puck and follow him in a light-hearted,
amused manner. The character of Puck keeps the play rolling and
everything turns out well in the end, unlike many other plays of
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