Puck in Bottom in Hoffmans "A Midsummer Nights Dream"

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A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's most popular and frequently performed comical plays (Berardinelli). The play transformed into a cinematic production by Michael Hoffman has not changed in its basic plot and dialogue, but the setting and some character traits have. The play setting has been gracefully moved from 16th century Greece to 19th century Tuscany (Berardinelli). The addition of bicycles to the play affects the characters in that they no longer have to chase each other around the woods, but can take chase in a more efficient fashion. As far as characters are concerned, Demetrius is no longer the smug and somewhat rude character we find in act 1, scene 1 (Shakespeare pg. 6, line 91), but rather a seemingly indifferent gentleman placed in an unfortunate circumstance set to delay his wedding to Hermia. Perhaps the most noticeable change in the character set from stage to film occurs in the characters of Puck and Nick Bottom.

Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, is established in the play as the jester to the King of Fairies, Oberon. He first appears in Act 2, Scene 1 when he and another fairy discuss the disagreement between Oberon and Titania are having. The fairy gives us some indication of Puck's character as she describes how Puck "frights the maidens of the villagery" and "Misleading the night wanderers" (Act 2.1, line 35). When Titania refuses to give up the boy servant that Oberon wants, he comes up with a plan to steal the child, and enlists Puck's help to do so. Oberon is fully aware of Puck's desire to have a good time at the expense of others, but trusts him with the task of retrieving the flower to make Titania fall in love with "Lion, Bear, Wolf, or Bull." (Act 2.1, line 180) The idea here is to convince Titania to hand over the changeling boy while she is infatuated with a beast. Being attracted to mischief, Puck seems excited to be tasked to this adventure, and claims to return "Within forty minutes" (Act 2.1, line 176) so that they...
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