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Bottom Timeline and Summary

  • 1.2: Bottom introduces himself with the first of many gaffs: Peter Quince calls for the Mechanicals, and Bottom suggests he list them all "generally, man by man," though he clearly means "individually," the opposite of what he says.
  • 1.2: Bottom is officious, and constantly tries to direct Peter Quince's directing. He tells Quince to explain what the play's about and then to read the actors' names.
  • 1.2: Bottom totally ignores (or doesn't understand) that the play is a tragedy about two lovers' double-suicide. He declares it to be a merry piece of work and again tries to direct the other actors.
  • 1.2: Bottom asks whether his role as Pyramus is a lover or a tyrant.
  • 1.2: Hearing that he's to play a lover, Bottom announces he will move the audience to tears. Still, he says he's best at playing a tyrant, as he's once played Hercules. Bottom delivers some really poor rhyme to illustrate his acting prowess.
  • 1.2: As Flute is assigned the role of Thisbe, Pyramus's lover, Bottom jumps in and suggests he could play that role too, in a monstrous little voice.
  • 1.2: Bottom offers to play Lion too, saying he can roar to do a man's heart good. It'd be so good, in fact, that the Duke would ask for more.
  • 1.2: Bottom rationalizes that, to avoid hanging, he could play Lion in such a way that he would roar like a sucking dove, or a nightingale, whichever suits his simile best.
  • 1.2: Bottom vainly discusses the various types of beard he could wear to play the role of Pyramus.
  • 1.2: After Bottom is put in his place by Quince with a syphilis joke, he agrees they'll meet in the wood to rehearse most "obscenely and courageously," perhaps confusing the meanings "unseen" and "dramatically" (as in a scene). Either way, the man is innocently and publicly dumb.
  • 3.1: Bottom has done his homework – he's found there are things in the play that are bound to make the audience unhappy, especially the bit where Pyramus kills himself on his sword. That's sure to upset the ladies.
  • 3.1: Bottom announces he's thought of a better way to fix this problem. Rather than leaving the killing out, one of them should write a prologue that explains that this is actually a play and none of it real. This should settle the people's nerves and won't remotely destroy the concept of theatrical entertainment.
  • 3.1: Quince suggests the prologue should be written in traditional verse, and Bottom suggests a more heavy-handed meter of eight and eight, which is indelicate and simple.
  • 3.1: Bottom says they ought to worry about bringing a lion in among the ladies.
  • 3.1: As Snout suggests they solve the lion problem with another explanatory prologue (apparently there can be more than one), Bottom suggests the lion costume should instead reveal that the lion is really a man, and the actor playing Lion can announce to the ladies that he's not a lion at all, but actually Snug the joiner.
  • 3.1: Bottom continues to solve all of the problems in the play: they can leave the moon to shine through a window onto the play (taking care of that character), and Wall can be represented by a man covered in wall-like things and holding his fingers together in a little hole through which the lovers can whisper.
  • 3.1: As the men begin to rehearse the play, Bottom butchers his lines, mixing up "odious" for "odors" and, in doing so, telling poor Thisbe that she smells horrible.
  • 3.1: Bottom re-enters the stage after a break, but his head has been transformed into that of a donkey—unbeknownst to him. He declares the men are playing a joke to make him afraid. As Snout tries to tell him that he's changed, Bottom replies Snout must only be seeing his own "asshead."
  • 3.1: Bottom thinks on the commotion and hurried exit of his friends and decides that they must be trying to "make an ass" of him. He decides to sing, so they'll hear he's not afraid of their knavery. Naturally, his song awakens Titania, who is promptly smitten with him as a result of the pansy love-juice.
  • 3.1: Bottom continues his little song about a cuckoo (playing on the notion of the cuckold, or whipped man), not knowing he's about to become a willing cuckold himself.
  • 3.1: Hearing that Titania loves him, Bottom declares she has little reason to say so. Still, he thinks on it and realizes love and reason have very little to do with each other these days. He'll take this silly occasion to make some jokes.
  • 3.1: Bottom's response to Titania's compliments is that he isn't wise or beautiful, but he does say he'd like to be smart enough to get out of the woods.
  • 3.1: Bottom happily meets Titania's four fairy servants and puns (not so cleverly) on each of their nature-derived names.
  • 4.1: Bottom has taken easily and unquestioningly to his new courtly life. He calls on Titania's servants to do little tasks for him, like scratching his head and bringing him honey. He addresses the fairies as "Monsieur," like some kind of Frenchman.
  • 4.1: Bottom announces that he's quite itchy around the face and should probably get to the barber. He calls himself a tender ass (for being unable to avoid an itch), but really this is one of many suggestive lines that play on whether Bottom knows he's enchanted with a donkey's head or not.
  • 4.1: Bottom declares he has a good ear in music and asks for rustic instruments.
  • 4.1: Titania offers Bottom all sorts of wondrous things to eat, but instead he'd rather have some dry oats and maybe some hay. Bottom then fickly declares he'd like some dried peas, but he'd really like to go to sleep immediately.
  • 4.1: Bottom (transformed back to his own head by Puck) suddenly wakes and launches into the line that was interrupted by his transformation. Realizing that no one else is around, Bottom playfully curses the other actors for having left him asleep.
  • 4.1: Puck tries to describe the "dream" he had, but he can't find the words.
  • 4.2: Bottom has returned to Athens in his own form and surprises his friends. He says he can tell them of wonders, except, if they ask, he won't tell, for it would be un-Athenian. Still, he says he'll tell them everything.
  • 4.2: Bottom prepares to star in Pyramus and Thisbe.
  • 5.1: Bottom enters as Pyramus, chockfull of awful lines delivered with excessive melodrama. He notes that the night is "always where day is not," which is highly insightful. He then curses the wall, again with superfluous melodrama.
  • 5.1: Theseus suggests in a heckle that the wall should curse back; Bottom replies that, actually, this is Thisbe's cue, and she'll be along shortly. He's quite helpful, should the audience not understand what he's up to.
  • 5.1: Bottom continues to butcher some major names, Limander for Leander, Shafalus and Procrus for Cephalus and Procris, and, of course, Ninny's tomb for Ninus's tomb.
  • 5.1: Bottom continues to deliver his lines incorrectly and extravagantly, thanking the moon for its sunny beams and so on. This goes on in heavy and idiotic verse for some time, until Bottom makes an end of himself as Pyramus with "Now die, die, die, die, die."
  • 5.1: As Theseus and Demetrius note that only Moonshine, Lion, and Wall are left to bury the dead, Bottom starts up from being dead Pyramus. He asks whether the nobles would like to "see the epilogue" or "hear a Bergomask dance," still as mixed up as ever.