A Midsummer Night's Dream
Versions of Reality Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide.
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic. (5.1.370)
Puck draws attention back to the darkness of the play. In the courtly world, the feuds have ended, the lovers have all wed, and everything seems to be going towards happily ever after. Puck reminds us, though, that another reality still exists, one where nighttime is not for lovemaking and fairies, but for terrifying animals and the dead. Puck is the perfect candidate to make this reminder, as he is neither fairy nor human, but one who straddles both worlds and thus has an arguably more objective perspective about each of their versions of reality.
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumb'red here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends. (5.1.422)
Puck's final speech is a good indication of where Shakespeare was in his writing career. This is not the best storyline he has created, but he writes it when he is at the peak of his comic form. In this way, it is a frothy piece, but beautifully written and worthwhile for that reason. While it does not meet the high standards of drama that his tragedies do, he would like to present it to you as a dream, which excuses him from a moving and amazing story line and lets him just revel for a bit in the magic of his art as a poet.