Puck: Character Analysis in A Midsummer Night's Dream

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      Introduction. Puck is also known by the name of Robin Goodfellow. He is Oberon's chief minister or chief attendant. He is a fairy too and being Oberon's chief attendant, he follows all his instructions to perfection. He is responsible for carrying out one major action that is squeezing the juice of magical flower on the eyes of various couples. He is accurate in the carrying out of this task only in the case of Titania. He commits a folly in squeezing this juice in the case of Lysander and Demetrius making them both abandon Hermia and fall in love with Helena. The audience is introduced to Puck in the first scene of Act II with the following lines;

"Thou speak'sl aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she, And 'tailor' cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there."

      Source of comedy in the play. Puck is the main jester for Oberon. It is his main purpose to ensure that the king of fairies, Oberon is perennially entertained with amusing programs. We are introduced to acts of mirth and pranks which he plays on mortal human beings. He recounts one particular incident where he transforms into a stool in a party thrown by an old woman for her friends. As she is sitting on this stool, he vanishes causing the old woman to fall down. While this is very painful for the old lady, this incident becomes a source of great laughter for the people present there who laugh uncontrollably at this funny spectacle. He also causes comedy when he squeezes the magical potion on Lysander and Demetrius, by mistake. Both of them start behaving in an absurd way which brings in some element of comedy in the play.

      Diligent fairy. Puck is a sincere and diligent worker. He is willing to go to any extent to work for his master, Oberon. He is extremely sincere in following Oberon's instructions. In the process of following these instructions, he also tends to get careless and therefore commits many serious blunders. However he is quick to identify and acknowledge these mistakes. He is also nimble on his toes to rectify these mistakes. Oberon during his visit to the woods sees that Demetrius is extremely cruel towards Helena who is in love with him. He asks Puck to squeeze some juice in the eyes of Demetrius so that he can return Helena's love. Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and pours the juice on his eyes. He later corrects his mistake and squeezes it into Demetrius' eyes as well. To rectify his mistake, he also has to squeeze a counteractive magic potion in Lysander's eyes to restore his love for Hermia. He devises an elaborate ploy to accomplish this task. He creates a foggy atmosphere where he imitates the voices of Lysander and Demetrius thereby confusing them. They eventually fall asleep and Puck is able to rectify his mistake. By the end, he succeeds at reuniting the two couples; Lysander and Hermia as well as Demetrius with Helena. His efforts in rectifying his mistake are representative of his diligence. They are also symbolic of the fact that he may be jester and fond of playing pranks for his entertainment but he is extremely serious about his duty.

      Conclusion. Puck is a jester and the chief attendant of the king of fairies, Oberon. He treats Oberon as his guide and master. He does not question anything which Oberon orders him to do. He is willing to go against his own nature to fulfill what Oberon asks him to do. When he squeezes the magical juice in the eyes of Lysander by mistake, he does not show any remorse or regret. He only rectifies his mistake because Oberon orders him to do so. In fact he is enjoying the misunderstanding which is caused because of his folly. He is a typical Shakespearean fool who is explicitly nothing more than a jester but is symbolic of deeper values. He exposes the realm of magic and the evil side of fairies.

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