Character Analysis – Puck, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Who is Puck in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'?

Puck is one of Shakespeare’s most enjoyable characters. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream Puck is a mischievous sprite and Oberon’s servant and jester.

He is perhaps the play’s most adorable character and stands out from the other fairies that drift through the play. But Puck is not as ethereal as the play’s other fairies; rather, he is courser, prone to misadventure and goblin-like. Indeed, one of the fairies describes Puck as a “hobgoblin” in Act 2, Scene 1.

As his “hobgoblin” reputation suggests, Puck is fun-loving and quick-witted – and thanks to this mischievous nature, he triggers many of the play’s most memorable events.

Puck – Use (and Misuse) of Magic

Puck uses magic for comic effect – most notably when he transforms Bottom’s head into that of an ass! This is the most memorable image of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and demonstrates that whilst Puck is harmless, he is capable of cruel tricks for the sake of enjoyment.

Oberon sends Puck to fetch a love potion use it on the Athenian lovers to stop them bickering. However, Puck is prone to unfortunate mistakes and smears the love potion on Lysander’s eyelids instead of Demetrius’s.

Puck never really accepts responsibility for the mistake and continues to blame the lovers behavior on their own foolishness! In Act 3, Scene 2 he says:

Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand;
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover's fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Later in the play, Oberon sends Puck out to fix his mistake. The forest is magically plunged into darkness and Puck imitates the voices of the lovers to lead them astray. This time he successfully smears the love potion on Lysander's eyes and he falls back in love with Hermia.

The lovers are made to believe that the entire affair was a dream, and in the final passage of the play, Puck encourages the audience to think the same:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.