I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is done.
Pyramus and Thisbe is a tragic play. Why do you think Shakespeare includes this suggestion from Starveling? Look at the two short lines he has in this extract. What can you infer or learn about him from his contributions?
Not a whit: I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue, and let the prologue seem to say we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus is not killed indeed.
Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?
I fear it, I promise you.
Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves, to bring in — God shield us! — a lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing
Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion.
Snout mentions the lion multiple times. Why does he, and the rest of the mechanicals, think the audience will believe there is a lion onstage? What does this reveal about them and their opinions of the ladies at court?
Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be seen through the lion’s neck.
Look at the language used by Bottom and how each of his contributions start ‘nay, you must’, ‘why, then you may’, ‘some man or other must’. How does he come across in this scene and what is his role within the group?
Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things: that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber.
Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?
What do you think about the mechanicals' plan to have people play the moon and a wall? Is it necessary for them? Why would Shakespeare choose to do this?
A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac. Find out moonshine, find out moonshine.
An annual calendar containing important dates such as astronomical data and tide tables.
Yes, it doth shine that night.
Why, then may you leave a casement of the great chamber window, where we play, open, and the moon may shine in at the casement.
Part of a window on hinges which opens like a door.
Ay, or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern. Then there is another thing: we must have a wall in the great chamber; for Pyramus and Thisbe, says the story, did talk through the chink of a wall.
Quince is very practical, realising that they will need certain features in the space where they perform, including a wall. Look at the final line of the extract. How do you think Quince feels about the solution that the mechanicals put forward?
You can never bring in a wall. What say you,
Some man or other must present Wall: and let him have some plaster, or some loam, or some rough-cast about him, to signify wall.
An actor must play the wall. And he should have some plaster, some soil, or some cement on him to represent a wall.
If that may be, then all is well.
(Text edited by RSC Education)