A Midsummer Night's Dream: Act 1, Scene 2
carpenter, joiner, weaver, bellows-mender, tinker, and 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.
1Is all our company here?
2. You were best to : it would be best to. generally: Bottom often gets his words mixed up. As you can see from "man by man," he means "individually," just the opposite of what he says, "generally." 3. scrip: script, written list.
2You were best to call them generally, man by man,
3according to the scrip.
4Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is
5thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our
6. interlude: brief play.
6interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his
7wedding-day at night.
8First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
9-10. grow to a point: come systematically to a conclusion.
9on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow
10to a point.
11. Marry: By the Virgin Mary; Indeed. lamentable: mournful.
11Marry, our play is, "The most lamentable comedy,
12and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby."
13A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a
14merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your
15actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.
16Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the
18Ready. Name what part I am for, and
20You, Nick Bottom, are set down for
22What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?
23A lover, that kills himself most gallant
25That will ask some tears in the true performing of
26-27. look to their eyes: take care not to injure their eyes with weeping. 27. condole: arouse pity.
26it: if I do it, let the audience look to their
27eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some
28. humor: inclination.
28measure. To the rest yet my chief humor is for a
29. Ercles: Hercules. The tradition for ranting in this part grew from Seneca's Hercules Furens. 30. tear a cat: i.e., rant. make all split: i.e., cause a stir, bring the house down. 31. raging rocks: What are "raging rocks"? Rocks in a landslide? The whole speech is "lofty," but doesn't make good sense.
29tyrant. I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to
30tear a cat in, to make all split.
"The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates;
35. Phibbus' car: the chariot of Phoebus, the sun-god.
And Phibbus' car
Shall shine from far
And make and mar
The foolish Fates."
39This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players.
40This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is
41. condoling: pathetic.
42Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
43Here, Peter Quince.
44Flute, you must take Thisby on you.
45. What: what sort of man. wand'ring knight: knight-errant.
45What is Thisby? a wand'ring knight?
46It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
47Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have
48a beard coming.
49. That's all one: That makes no difference.
49That's all one: you shall play it in a mask, and
50. small: high-pitched.
50you may speak as small as you will.
51. An: If.
51An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too, I'll
52-53. "Thisne, Thisne!": "Thisne" is Bottom's idea of a lover's nickname for Thisby. To show off his acting skill, Bottom first speaks in the voice of Pyramus, calling for Thisby, then speaks in the voice of Thisby, identifying herself as the beloved of Pyramus.
52speak in a monstrous little voice. "Thisne,
53Thisne!" "Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! thy Thisby dear,
54and lady dear!"
55No, no; you must play Pyramus: and, Flute, you
58Robin Starveling, the tailor.
59Here, Peter Quince.
60Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.
61Tom Snout, the tinker.
62Here, Peter Quince.
63You, Pyramus' father: myself, Thisby's father:
64Snug, the joiner; you, the lion's part: and, I
65. fitted: i.e., fitted up with an appropriate cast.
65hope, here is a play fitted.
66Have you the lion's part written? pray you, if it
67be, give it me, for I am slow of study.
68You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but
70. that: so that.
70Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will
71do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar,
72that I will make the duke say "Let him roar again,
73let him roar again."
74. An: If. terribly: terrifyingly.
74An you should do it too terribly, you would fright
75the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek;
76and that were enough to hang us all.
77That would hang us, every mother's son.
78I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the
79ladies out of their wits, they would have no more
80. aggravate: Bottom means the opposite, moderate.
80discretion but to hang us: but I will aggravate my
81voice so that I will roar you as gently as any
82. sucking dove: A sucking lamb (one that is still nursing) gently bleats, and a dove gently coos, so Bottom must think that a "sucking dove" must have the most gentle voice of all. an: as if.
82sucking dove; I will roar you an 'twere any
84You can play no part but Pyramus; for
85. proper: handsome.
85Pyramus is a sweet-faced man; a proper
86man as one shall see in a summer's day;
87a most lovely gentleman-like man: therefore
88you must needs play Pyramus.
89. Well: very well.
89Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best
90to play it in?
91Why, what you will.
92. discharge: perform. your: The indefinite use, meaning "that everyone is familiar with." 93. purple-in-grain: dyed purple or very deep red (from grain, the name applied to the dried insect used to make the dye). 94. French-crown-color: yellowish color of a gold coin.
92I will discharge it in either your straw-color
93beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain
94beard, or your French-crown-color beard, your
96. Some of your French crowns have no hair at all: Alluding to loss of hair from the "French disease," syphilis.
96Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and
97then you will play bare-faced. But, masters, here
98. am to: must.
98are your parts: and I am to entreat you, request
99. con: learn by heart.
99you and desire you, to con them by tomorrow night;
100and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the
101town, by moonlight; there will we rehearse, for if
102we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with
103. devices: plans.
103company, and our devices known. In the meantime I
104. bill: list.
104will draw a bill of properties, such as our play
105wants. I pray you, fail me not.
106We will meet; and there we may rehearse most
107. obscenely: An unintentionally funny blunder. Bottom may connect this word with "seen" and mean "without being observed," or with "scene" and mean "dramatically." perfect: i.e., letter-perfect in memorizing your parts.
107obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect:
109At the duke's oak we meet.
110. hold or cut bow-strings: an expression from archery; a modern equivalent is "fish or cut bait."
110Enough; hold or cut bow-strings.