While reading “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare it became apparent to me that the actors of the play “Pyramus and Thisbe” might not be the only “rude mechanicals” of this Shakespearian masterpiece. In fact, I believe that the very person who called these players “rude mechanicals” is one himself. Puck (also known as Robin Goodfellow) might be of the fairy realm, but his actions and purpose are eerily similar to that of the merchant players.
The first part of this hypocritical statement is “rude”. As we discussed in class, there are many different definitions to the word rude that range from lower class to uneducated and everything in-between. It is evident that while Puck isn’t a human character, he is still of a lower class than Oberon and Titania, as he is forced into doing work as ordered by Oberon. He takes orders just as any merchant would take orders from those above him, and therefore is of a lower class. Also, his nickname Puck means “mischievous or evil sprite” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). This personality trait of mischief is often something that is associated with people who are uncultivated and have nothing better to do, as the lower class is so often perceived. Being uneducated, another “rude” trait, is something that comes up when Puck gives the potion to the wrong person. Rather than checking to make sure he has the correct person, Puck finds Lysander and says “Who is here? / Weeds of Athens he doth wear. / This is he my master said / Despised the Athenian maid—” (lines 76-79). He makes the assumption that any person wearing Athenian clothing must be the correct victim and doesn’t think to observe the characteristics of the person he is about to give the potion to. Not checking to make sure he is doing the right thing shows that he is uneducated and foolish to some extent. Through being uneducated, uncultivated, and of a lower class in the fairy realm, Puck can be considered “rude” in his own way.
The second part is “mechanical” which would refer to being a piece or a machine of sorts that does work for others. It has already been stated that Puck does the work for Oberon and is in that way a piece for Oberon to play with and get work done through him. But it also is important to look at the way that Puck is a mechanical of the story. His job at the end of the play is to say “If we shadows have offended, / Think but this and all is mended: / That you have but slumbered here, / While these visions did appear; / And this weak and idle theme, / No more yielding than a dream,” (lines 1-6). Shakespeare uses Puck as a mechanism to tell the reader that this was all just a crazy dream and that none of it ever happened. Another big part of being a mechanical is the fact that Puck does most of his work within the story with his hands. He puts the potion in the eyes of Lysander with his hands, he turns Bottom’s head into that of a donkey by using his magic and his hands, and he eventually fixes all his wrongdoings by again inflicting potions on people with his hands. Between working with his hands and being the mechanism which people use to get their work done, Puck truly is a mechanical.
I wonder to what extent others think this is also true. For me, reading about the players and reading about Puck formed almost an unavoidable parallel. Even though the fairy realm and the human realm are two separate entities within the play, there are many similarities between the “rude mechanicals” that are the players and the “rude mechanical” that is Puck himself.