A Midsummer Night's Dream: Act 1, Scene 2

Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, and Starveling
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.

  1   Is 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.
  2   You were best to call them generally, man by man,
  3   according to the scrip.

  4   Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is
  5   thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our
6. interlude: brief play.
  6   interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his
  7   wedding-day at night.

  8   First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
9-10. grow to a point: come systematically to a conclusion.
  9   on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow
 10   to a point.

11. Marry: By the Virgin Mary; Indeed. lamentable: mournful.
 11   Marry, our play is, "The most lamentable comedy,
 12   and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby."

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

 16   Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the
 17   weaver.

 18   Ready. Name what part I am for, and
 19   proceed.

 20   You, Nick Bottom, are set down for
 21   Pyramus.

 22   What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?

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

 25   That 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.
 26   it: if I do it, let the audience look to their
 27   eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some
28. humor: inclination.
 28   measure. 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.
 29   tyrant. I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to
 30   tear a cat in, to make all split.
 31         "The raging rocks
 32         And shivering shocks
 33         Shall break the locks
 34              Of prison gates;
35. Phibbus' car: the chariot of Phoebus, the sun-god.
 35         And Phibbus' car
 36         Shall shine from far
 37         And make and mar
 38              The foolish Fates."
 39   This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players.
 40   This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is
41. condoling: pathetic.
 41   more condoling.

 42   Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.

 43   Here, Peter Quince.

 44   Flute, you must take Thisby on you.

45. What: what sort of man. wand'ring knight: knight-errant.
 45   What is Thisby? a wand'ring knight?

 46   It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

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

49. That's all one: That makes no difference.
 49   That's all one: you shall play it in a mask, and
50. small: high-pitched.
 50   you may speak as small as you will.

51. An: If.
 51   An 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.
 52   speak in a monstrous little voice. "Thisne,
 53   Thisne!" "Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! thy Thisby dear,
 54   and lady dear!"

 55   No, no; you must play Pyramus: and, Flute, you
 56   Thisby.

 57   Well, proceed.

 58   Robin Starveling, the tailor.

 59   Here, Peter Quince.

 60   Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.
 61   Tom Snout, the tinker.

 62   Here, Peter Quince.

 63   You, Pyramus' father: myself, Thisby's father:
 64   Snug, the joiner; you, the lion's part: and, I
65. fitted: i.e., fitted up with an appropriate cast.
 65   hope, here is a play fitted.

 66   Have you the lion's part written? pray you, if it
 67   be, give it me, for I am slow of study.

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

70. that: so that.
 70   Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will
 71   do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar,
 72   that I will make the duke say "Let him roar again,
 73   let him roar again."

74. An: If. terribly: terrifyingly.
 74   An you should do it too terribly, you would fright
 75   the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek;
 76   and that were enough to hang us all.

 77   That would hang us, every mother's son.

 78   I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the
 79   ladies out of their wits, they would have no more
80. aggravate: Bottom means the opposite, moderate.
 80   discretion but to hang us: but I will aggravate my
 81   voice 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.
 82   sucking dove; I will roar you an 'twere any
 83   nightingale.

 84   You can play no part but Pyramus; for
85. proper: handsome.
 85   Pyramus is a sweet-faced man; a proper
 86   man as one shall see in a summer's day;
 87   a most lovely gentleman-like man: therefore
 88   you must needs play Pyramus.

89. Well: very well.
 89   Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best
 90   to play it in?

 91   Why, 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.
 92   I will discharge it in either your straw-color
 93   beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain
 94   beard, or your French-crown-color beard, your
 95   perfect yellow.

96. Some of your French crowns have no hair at all: Alluding to loss of hair from the "French disease," syphilis.
 96   Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and
 97   then you will play bare-faced. But, masters, here
98. am to: must.
 98   are your parts: and I am to entreat you, request
99. con: learn by heart.
 99   you and desire you, to con them by tomorrow night;
100   and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the
101   town, by moonlight; there will we rehearse, for if
102   we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with
103. devices: plans.
103   company, and our devices known. In the meantime I
104. bill: list.
104   will draw a bill of properties, such as our play
105   wants. I pray you, fail me not.

106   We 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.
107   obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect:
108   adieu.

109   At the duke's oak we meet.

110. hold or cut bow-strings: an expression from archery; a modern equivalent is "fish or cut bait."
110   Enough; hold or cut bow-strings.