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6. Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5 Scene 1)
Packed with fairies, young love and practical jokes, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible plays. But that’s not to underestimate the brilliance of the writing. It takes real skill to construct and present a complicated story and make it seem so simple.
And this perfectly formed comedy is rounded off at the very end with the sweetest of soliloquies from the charming, mischievous Puck (aka Robin Goodfellow). With a twinkle in his eye, he directly addresses the audience, asks forgiveness for any offense caused, and (cheeky to the last) requests a round of applause. As a soliloquy, it’s like a bedtime story after a day filled with adventure.
Here's Puck’s delightful farewell in full:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended –
That you have but slumbered 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, goodnight unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
To be continued…