Great Figures in Shakespeare: Part 6 – Puck to Lysander

Sir_Joseph_Noel_Paton_-_The_Quarrel_of_Oberon_and_Titania_-_Google_Art_Project_2

Seems like Oberon and Titania are having problems again. Seems he wants the boy she’s taking care of and she won’t let him. Now Oberon’s just going to play a trick on her so he could get his way. Really mature. Not.

As you might see, you’ll find that there are plenty of parents in Shakespeare that might seem like complete jerks or outright hypocrites. At one point, people in the Victorian era thought Polonius was good dad since he gave some fatherly advice to Laertes. But he also has someone to spy on him while his son’s in France. He also uses Ophelia to spy on Hamlet as well as tells her not to have sex with him and pretend to dump him. Then you have King Lear who tries to divide his lands to daughters who professed their love for them. This leads his country into chaos and civil war. And it’s not just dads for you also have Volumnia from Coriolanus who lives through her son and always wants credit for his achievements. Then there’s Constance of Brittany from King John whose pursuit of her son’s claim to the throne gets her killed. That doesn’t even mention Titus Andronicus and Queen Tamora who kill each other’s kids to avenge those they lost in sick and twisted ways. Add to the fact that Titus killed a son just because he didn’t do what he wanted. In this selection I bring you more great figures in Shakespeare consisting of Puck, Lysander, Oberon, Demetrius, and Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mercutio, Benvolio, and Tybalt from Romeo and Juliet, Duke Vincentio and Isabella from Measure for Measure, MacDuff from Macbeth, Lavinia from Titus Andronicus, Timon of Athens, Julius Caesar, and Cymbeline.

 

76. Puck

"If we shadows have offended,/Think but this, and all is mended,/That you have but slumber'd here/While these visions did appear." - Act V, Scene 1. Yes, it was all a dream in the woods. But I'm sure Puck had fun with turning Bottom into an ass or having Lysander and Demetrius fight over Helena.

“If we shadows have offended,/Think but this, and all is mended,/That you have but slumber’d here/While these visions did appear.” – Act V, Scene 1. Yes, it was all a dream in the woods. But I’m sure Puck had fun with turning Bottom into an ass or having Lysander and Demetrius fight over Helena.

From: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Pro: He’s a lot of fun as a mischievous sprite who is capable of circling the earth in 40 minutes. Serves to remind that the fairy world is not all goodness and generosity.

Con: He’s kind of a sociopath and consummate prankster who’s rather indifferent to human suffering. Sure it was a mistake screwing the love potion that made Demetrius and Lysander go after Helena, but he’s sure enjoying the results. But he only fixes things at Oberon’s request. And he shows no repentance over turning Bottom into an ass or having Titania fall in love with him.

Fate: Remains the same old sprite he started out as.

 

77. Oberon

"Once I sat upon a promontory,/And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back,/Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,/That the rude sea grew civil at her song;/And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,/To hear the sea-maid’s music." - Act II, Scene 1. As we know from Oberon, he should've been more specific when it came to applying love potion to a certain, "Athenian youth."

“Once I sat upon a promontory,/And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin’s back,/Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,/That the rude sea grew civil at her song;/And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,/To hear the sea-maid’s music.” – Act II, Scene 1. As we know from Oberon, he should’ve been more specific when it came to applying love potion to a certain, “Athenian youth.”

From: A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

Pro: Sure he might take pity on Helena and is willing to make things better for her. As King of the Fairies, he does try to create human happiness. Knows how to keep Puck in line. Loves Titania but their relationship can be, well, complicated.

Con: Should’ve been more specific when instructing Puck with the love potion since he initially gave it to the wrong Athenian. While he may love Titania, he can be kind of a jerk when he wants her to do something. I mean the guy publicly humiliates his wife for an extremely petty reason and gets what he wants out of it. Can be a petty and immoral sadist committing various atrocities for amusement, but at least he eventually feels bad about them.

Fate: Is reconciled with Titania, at least for now.

 

78. Nick Bottom

"I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could." - Act III, Scene 1. Well, looks like someone just did, literally.

“I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could.” – Act III, Scene 1. Well, looks like someone just did, literally.

From: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Pro: Took a night of being turned into an ass and being abducted by fairies better than most people would in his situation. Then again, being with Titania, he probably doesn’t mind too much (though he tends to forget it the next day). Is outgoing and good natured.

Con: Tends to be overconfident in his acting abilities and remembering lines. Also makes an ass out of himself both literally and figuratively.

Fate: Goes back to normal life and puts on a play with his colleagues in the community theater troupe.

 

79. Tybalt

"Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford/No better term than this: thou art a villain." - Act III, Scene 1. Just wait until he gets himself killed by Romeo. That's right after he kills Mercutio.

“Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford/No better term than this: thou art a villain.” – Act III, Scene 1. Just wait until he gets himself killed by Romeo. That’s right after he kills Mercutio.

From: Romeo and Juliet

Pro: He treats Juliet and the Nurse with kindness. Also can hold his own in a swordfight. Is supposedly a perfect gentleman, beloved of his uncle, and the best friend the Nurse ever had.

Con: Has a tendency to be difficult to interact with as well as be loud and angry at best. Has no qualms about being violent that he openly admits to hating the word peace. Kills Mercutio and feels absolutely no remorse for it whatsoever. In short, he’s an all-around asshole with violent tendencies.

Fate: Killed by Romeo in a teen gang fight. Pretty much got what was coming to him.

 

80. Mercutio

"O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you./She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes/In shape no bigger than an agate-stone/On the fore-finger of an alderman,/Drawn with a team of little atomies/Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep." - Act I, Scene 4. I'd like to tell you what he's just said. But I don't want to offend the parents reading this.

“O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you./She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes/In shape no bigger than an agate-stone/On the fore-finger of an alderman,/Drawn with a team of little atomies/Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep.” – Act I, Scene 4. I’d like to tell you what he’s just said. But I don’t want to offend the parents reading this.

From: Romeo and Juliet

Pro: Well, he’s quite fun to hang around and very entertaining. Willing to tell his best friend Romeo to snap out of it when he’s moping over Rosaline.

Con: Don’t question his manhood or how he “consorts” with Romeo. Is very quick to fight. Can be callous and cynical. Is too immature and hot-blooded for his own good. Can change his mood from cheerful to angry at the drop of a dime and is willing to start fights for no reason at all. Also, heavily implied to have love issues in the past which isn’t surprising.

Fate: Killed by Tybalt and his death is heartbreaking. It all goes downhill from here.

 

81. Benvolio

" I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire:/The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,/And, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl;/For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring." - Act III, Scene 1. He's basically saying, "C'mon, Merc, let's go home. I don't want to get in a fight with the Capulets because everyone is really cranky with this hot weather." Too bad Mercutio doesn't listen to him and ends up killed. After this, I think Benvolio gets the hell out and dodge.

” I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire:/The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,/And, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl;/For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.” – Act III, Scene 1. He’s basically saying, “C’mon, Merc, let’s go home. I don’t want to get in a fight with the Capulets tonight because everyone is really cranky with this hot weather.” Too bad Mercutio doesn’t listen to him and ends up killed. After this, I think Benvolio gets the hell out and dodge.

From: Romeo and Juliet

Pro: He’s the most reasonable guy in the Montague bunch and among the teenage characters. In all, he’s just a level-headed nice guy who just wants to keep his friend and cousin alive. And he’s the only one who doesn’t forget the death threats on those who fight in the streets. Too bad he’s always caught in the middle.

Con: Unfortunately, his voice of reason isn’t as memorable as Mercutio’s antics. And the fact he’s a Montague basically puts him in a generations long family feud that he’d rather not get involved in. Probably shouldn’t have encouraged Romeo to attend Lord Capulet’s party.

Fate: Hopefully, he’s alive by the end but he disappears after Romeo’s exile. Then again, as a Montague, he probably thought it was a good idea to get the hell out of Verona and dodge since there’s no point in staying anymore since Mercutio is dead and Romeo will soon be dead anyway (now that he’s an outlaw).

 

82. Lavinia

"'Tis present death I beg; and one thing more/That womanhood denies my tongue to tell: /O, keep me from their worse than killing lust,/And tumble me into some loathsome pit,/Where never man's eye may behold my body:/Do this, and be a charitable murderer." - Act II, Scene 3. Sorry, but Queen Tamora has something worse in store for you. And you'll probably won't be able to tell anyone about it.

“‘Tis present death I beg; and one thing more/That womanhood denies my tongue to tell: /O, keep me from their worse than killing lust,/And tumble me into some loathsome pit,/Where never man’s eye may behold my body:/Do this, and be a charitable murderer.” – Act II, Scene 3. Sorry, but Queen Tamora has something worse in store for you. And you’ll probably won’t be able to tell anyone about it.

From: Titus Andronicus

Pro: She’s beautiful, virtuous, chaste, and gracious. Then again, she’s not too perfect because her brother Mutius helped her and Bassainus run off together. Can read and uses Philomel’s story to tell her dad that she was raped after her tongue and hands were cut off. Also used as stick in her mouth to write the names of her rapists. Holds the bowl when her daddy kills her rapists.

Con: For one, she’s viewed by those around her as an object and has no voice nor agency. Bassainus makes off with her and is accused of treason after Titus promises her to Saturninus. Thinks interracial relationships are a bad thing.

Fate: Is killed by her dad Titus so her shame and his sorrow would die with her. Was said to be for her own good.

 

83. MacDuff

" Despair thy charm;/And let the angel whom thou still hast served/Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb/Untimely ripp'd." - Act V, Scene 8. This translates to, "I was delivered by emergency c-section. So I'm not really a man of woman born." And he cuts Macbeth's head off.

” Despair thy charm;/And let the angel whom thou still hast served/Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb/Untimely ripp’d.” – Act V, Scene 8. This translates to, “I was delivered by emergency c-section. So I’m not really a man of woman born.” And he cuts Macbeth’s head off.

From: Macbeth

Pro: Really loves his wife and family as well as his own country. Isn’t a man of many words. But when he does say something, everyone listens. When Duncan dies, he not only mourns the king but also the man. When he’s suspicious about Macbeth’s actions, he decides to seek an English alliance so he could take his country back. Seen as a true man but accepts his natural place.

Con: Then again, you might also think that his actions against Macbeth are partially motivated by revenge. Also, when he left for England, you have to wonder why he didn’t at least take the wife and kids with him.

Fate: Kills Macbeth but now has to face the world alone (because Macbeth killed his whole family).

 

84. Cymbeline

"Thou took'st a beggar, wouldst have made my throne/A seat for baseness. " - Act I, Scene 1. Really, Cy, is your daughter marrying Posthumus that bad? I think you might need to chill.

“Thou took’st a beggar, wouldst have made my throne/A seat for baseness. ” – Act I, Scene 1. Really, Cy, is your daughter marrying Posthumus that bad? I think you might need to chill.

From: Cymbeline

Pro: He’s a kind hearted guy and truly concerned about the harm he might’ve caused with his foolishness. Forgives people quite easily for almost anything.

Con: He’s a dad you’d expect straight out of a Disney movie. Sure he’s nice, but he doesn’t exercise good judgement and makes a lot of decisions that almost screw up his kids’ lives as well as his kingdom. For one, he banishes Belarius for 20 years which leads to him kidnap his 2 sons (whom he doesn’t go after. But Belarius raises them well). Second, he marries a single mom because she’s hot despite that she’s evil and wants him for his power. Third, he believes everything his wife says simply because she’s hot. Fourth, when his daughter Imogen elopes with Posthumus, he banishes her husband and locks her away. All because he thinks Posthumus is below his daughter’s station. Fifth, starts a war with Rome just because his wife doesn’t want to pay a fine. Luckily, Imogen found the Queen out before she could poison him and helps stop the meaningless war.

Fate: Remains king of Britain, forgives everyone and is reunited with his kids.

 

85. Timon

"The gods confound—hear me, you good gods all—/The Athenians both within and out that wall!/And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow/To the whole race of mankind, high and low! " - Act IV, Scene 1. Okay, that's a bit harsh. No need to be deeply misanthropic here.

“The gods confound—hear me, you good gods all—/The Athenians both within and out that wall!/And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow/To the whole race of mankind, high and low! ” – Act IV, Scene 1. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. No need to be deeply misanthropic here.

From: Timon of Athens

Pro: Well, he’s rich and very generous with his money. Is well loved and throws lavish parties. Always willing to pay debts for others. Thinks his friends are the most important thing in the world to him.

Con: Unfortunately, the guy’s is always open for all takers as long as they say they’re his friends. He’s also so generous to his friends that he’s soon running out of money. As for his friends, well, they’re just hanging out with him so they could get a big pay out. Even his servants know his buds are phonies. May love his own image as a friendly, generous guy, more than he loves his “friends.” May just be attracted to shallow people and completely overlooks people who care about him such as his servant Flavius whom he treats like crap and doesn’t give a hint of gratitude. Once he finds out his friends are all fake, he nastily turns on them. Is also completely ignorant of his money problems or at least doesn’t want to know the reality of the situation. Once he’s thrown out of his home, he starts hating all mankind and living in a cave. When given the chance to return to Athens, he just curses and says he’d rather die.

Fate: Drives himself to death but his is less tragic because he brought so much of his bad fortune on himself.

 

86. Julius Caesar

"Et tu, Brute? — Then fall, Caesar!" - Act III, Scene 1. Should've not come to the Senate on the Ides of March, Caesar. But you didn't listen.

“Et tu, Brute? — Then fall, Caesar!” – Act III, Scene 1. Should’ve not come to the Senate on the Ides of March, Caesar. But you didn’t listen.

From: Julius Caesar

Pro: He’s charismatic and confident as well as more human than you think.

Con: For one, he should’ve beware the Ides of March but didn’t. Second, his arrogance, popularity, and ambition attract a lot of enemies who want to kill him which leads to his downfall. Is a total drama queen who likes to put on a big show and is beginning to show signs of tyranny like putting 2 guys to death for covering up his pictures. Has hearing problems. Is a lousy swimmer. Suffers from epileptic fits. Also might have fertility problems because he and Calpurnia are childless (in real life, Caesar already had kids so it’s probably Calpurnia). Trusts Brutus with his life way too much.

Fate: Assassinated by conspiring senators on the Roman Senate floor on the Ides of March. But it’s halfway through the play which really confuses high school kids.

 

87. Duke Vincentio

"My business in this state/Made me a looker-on here in Vienna,/Where I have seen corruption boil and bubble,/Till it o'er-run the stew." - Act V, Scene 1. I bet you he means that he didn't expect his city to be so screwed up. Or for Angelo to handle things so poorly.

“My business in this state/Made me a looker-on here in Vienna,/Where I have seen corruption boil and bubble,/Till it o’er-run the stew.” – Act V, Scene 1. I bet you he means that he didn’t expect his city to be so screwed up. Or for Angelo to handle things so poorly.

From: Measure for Measure

Pro: Goes on a fake vacation in order to test Angelo’s character. Loves his people that he can’t bring himself to punish them when they break the law as well as tries to be helpful. Concocts a scheme to save Claudio that makes both Isabella and Mariana happy.

Con: Has a wish to see long-ignored laws of morality enforced without looking like a tyrant. Disguises as a friar to spy on Angelo and his people. Holds confessions from unwitting people while impersonating a friar. Lies to Isabella about her brother being dead. Might have a God complex. Oh, and he proposes marriage to a novice nun like it’s no big deal.

Fate: Resumes his place as Duke and asks Isabella would marry him. It’s unknown whether she says yes.

 

88. Isabella

"No ceremony that to great ones ’longs,/Not the king’s crown, nor the deputed sword,/The marshal’s truncheon, nor the judge’s robe,/Become them with one half so good a grace/As mercy does." - Act II, Scene 2. Of course, when Angelo asks for sex in exchange for her brother's life, she's like, "So long, Claudio, it's been good to know you. But you shouldn't have knocked up your girlfriend."

“No ceremony that to great ones ’longs,/Not the king’s crown, nor the deputed sword,/The marshal’s truncheon, nor the judge’s robe,/Become them with one half so good a grace/As mercy does.” – Act II, Scene 2. Of course, when Angelo asks for sex in exchange for her brother’s life, she’s like, “So long, Claudio, it’s been good to know you. But you shouldn’t have knocked up your girlfriend.”

From: Measure for Measure

Pro: Well, she’s a pure and moral person who’s not as much of a hypocrite. Gives brilliant speeches to Angelo on Christianity, power, mercy as well as fiery denounces him for his treachery. Cares about her brother enough to visit him.

Con: Can be self-righteous and hypocritical as well as an outright prude. Seems to have no sympathy for Claudio when he asks her to give into Angelo’s desire and is revolted by her brother’s inability to keep it in his pants. Would rather see her brother executed for what shouldn’t be a crime than lose her virginity to Angelo (though she’s fine with asking Mariana to sleep with Angelo for her). Seems to be prone to unwanted sexual attention.

Fate: We don’t know whether she marries the Duke or becomes a nun.

 

89. Demetrius

"You do impeach your modesty too much/To leave the city and commit yourself/Into the hands of one that loves you not,/To trust the opportunity of night/And the ill counsel of a desert place/With the rich worth of your virginity." - Act II, Scene 1. Maybe Demetrius should follow his own advice because he's following a woman who clearly doesn't love him back.

“You do impeach your modesty too much/To leave the city and commit yourself/Into the hands of one that loves you not,/To trust the opportunity of night/And the ill counsel of a desert place/With the rich worth of your virginity.” – Act II, Scene 1. Maybe Demetrius should follow his own advice because he’s following a woman who clearly doesn’t love him back.

From: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Pro: He might love Helena prior to the love potion, but he’s not aware of it.

Con: Initially thinks Hermia is legally entitled to him because he made a deal with her dad (even though she’s clearly not interested in him). This after he ditches her best friend, Helena to whom he’s abusive and insensitive when she refuses to give up on him. In fact, he tells her that she’s a real floozy by chasing him around and wishes that she was devoured by wild beasts. After that, he pursues Hermia and Lysander in the woods. Now we may criticize Helena for going after him, but this guy is a complete hypocrite and is just as pathetic as she is. Hell, he might even be worse since he relies on his male privilege and connections to be with a girl who’s clearly in a loving relationship with someone else. He needs to get over it. Sure he might be sweet to Helena at the end but it’s the love potion talking.

Fate: Marries Helena in a triple wedding with Lysander and Hermia and Theseus and Hippolyta. Sure he might be sweet to her by this point, but it’s the love potion talking.

 

90. Lysander

"For aught that ever I could read,/Could ever hear by tale or history,/The course of true love never did run smooth." - Act I, Scene 1. Well, he has a point. Yet, Lysander's heart is always with Hermia except when he's under love potion. But he got better.

“For aught that ever I could read,/Could ever hear by tale or history,/The course of true love never did run smooth.” – Act I, Scene 1. Well, he has a point. Yet, Lysander’s heart is always with Hermia except when he’s under love potion. But he got better.

From: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Pro: He loves Hermia that he’s willing to run away with her into the woods. Knows the course of love never runs so smooth. Is likely to have a happy life with Hermia since he didn’t need a fairy love potion to fall for her. Also doesn’t need to have her daddy’s approval to marry her either. All that matters to him is whether Hermia loves him back. Well, at least when he’s not crushing for Helena on the love potion.

Con: Should’ve taken a page from Demetrius and tried to make a deal with Hermia’s dad who doesn’t like him. Can be a hopeless romantic. Also, switched affections for another girl under the influence of love potion. At least he gets out of it.

Fate: Marries Hermia in a triple wedding with Demetrius and Helena and Theseus and Hippolyta.

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