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The Heart of a Child

In: English and Literature

Submitted By swinson0524
Words 1284
Pages 6
Carrol Allen
Savannah Swinson
ENG – 450
Professor Sherwood
28 Jan. 2016
“The Heart of a Child” The plays of William Shakespeare have stood against the test of time. Even today they are used in education, personal leisure and of course entertainment, as they were always meant for. Today, plays like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, have been made into movies. But how well do the actors portray the timeless characters in Shakespeare’s world? Can modern day actors do Shakespearean characters justice in their portrayal? In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck is one of the most significant characters. In the 1999 film adaptation the character of Puck is played by actor, Stanley Tucci. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow is the mischievous sprite who serves Oberon, the Fairy King. He spends his days playing annoying tricks on people or helps them out with their chores. In the play, Puck brags about when he has been a nuisance to women in the village, “Sometimes for three-foot stool mistaketh me/Then slip I from her bum. Down topple she” (Shakespeare 2.1 52-53 857) more than anything else, Puck enjoys a good practical joke. After he changes Bottom’s head into the head of an ass, he delightedly proclaims, "My mistress with a monster is in love" (Shakespeare 3.2 6 870). Puck can be considered the heart and soul of the play because of his playful spirit, enthusiasm and disposition to prank anyone. His sense of humor and the tricks he plays infuse A Midsummer Night's Dream with a whimsical and disheveled quality that forms the majority of the play's amusing atmosphere. In the film, Stanley Tucci portrays the character of Puck. His interpretation lines up perfectly with how Shakespeare wrote his original character. In the film, the Fairy King Oberon, sends Puck to put the love juice of a flower on the eyes of the man who wears the Athenian clothes (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). As Puck is searching for his target in the woods he comes across a man with such clothing but also there is a bicycle which Puck beings to poke and prod with a stick because he does not understand that it is a bicycle. But the next time Puck is shown in the film, he is riding the bicycle back and forth and laughing wildly just like a child (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Stanley Tucci portrayed Puck like an over-grown child. From his mannerisms to the tone he uses with his dialogue, Tucci can easily be seen as the prankster with the “heart of a child” that is the character of Puck. Stanley Tucci, was an exceptional actor as he transformed into the character Puck. Stanley allows the audience to see him become the mischievous, devious, playful Puck that he is in the movie (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). In the movie, he was telling the fairy that he was Robin Goodfellow. That he did do the things that he may deem funny and others may feel is annoying. For example, he turned himself very tiny to frighten old women. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). In the play he said, “And sometimes / lurk I in a gossip ‘s bowl / In the very likeness of a roasted crab / And when she drinks, against her lips I bob” (Shakespeare 2.1 47-49 857). While the play only had the words, the movie showed him actually being inside of an old lady’s cup and she threw the cup down. In the movie and the play, he is a prankster. As he is talking to the Fairy about his character, he does a lot of laughing and playing around. Furthermore, Puck showed up where the men were rehearsing their play. He stood back and watched them. He used his magic and left a cane and a hat for Bottom to use. In contrast to the play, that did not happen. The hat had magical powers and when he took the hat off it turned Bottom’s head into an ass head (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). In the play Puck said, “I’ll follow you, I’ll lead you about around” (Shakespeare 3.1.94 868). However, in the movie, Puck did not put his hands on him and lead him around. In both the movie and the play, Bottom’s head was changed into an ass’ head. Another example of Puck’s silliness was when Oberon told him to take the flower and put drops on the man wearing Athenian apparel. On his way there he was riding a gigantic turtle eating grapes. He saw a bicycle and he poked it with a stick. He did not know what it was. He rolled the bike, backwards and forwards (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). In contrast to the play, he did not ride on a turtle and the bike did not exist. Tucci, was so engulfed into his character that he gave a captivating performance. Stanley Tucci performance was evaluated on the basic criteria of most good actors. Stanley proved that he was a well –honed instrument. He used his voice and body to play the role of Puck beautifully. Tucci’s speech was very clear. He used a very nice tone that fit the character. His voice gave the impression of a mystical creature, unlike the voice of a regular human being ( A Midsummer Night’s dream). For example, “ Thou speak’st a right; / I am that merry wanderer of the night / I jest to Oberon, and make him smile / When I am fat and bean- fed horse beguile” (Shakespeare 2.1. 43 -46 857). He was speaking in rhyme in the movie as well as in the play. In addition, he used his body to show forth the movements of his character. In the movie, Oberon called Puck to come to him as he talked about the flower. Unlike the play, Puck was on the ground beside Oberon, lying on his side staring into his master’s eyes with a silly grin on his face (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Also, in the movie he was crawling on the ground as the lovers slept in the forest (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). The wrong people were in love and Puck had to undo his mistake. Puck said, “On the ground sleep sound / I’ll apply to your eye / Gentle lover, remedy” (Shakespeare 3.3. 36-38 880). Unlike the movie he did not crawl on the ground. Tucci proved that he was comfortable and confident using the language and applying the movements to his role as Puck.
Stanley Tucci did a remarkable job portraying Puck in the movie. He used his talents to convey to the audience his interpretation of Puck. He utilized vocal, insight, emotion and drama to captivate the audience and make them feel as if they were seeing Shakespeare’s character come to life. It is safe to say that modern day actors can do the characters of Shakespeare justice. Stanley Tucci, if he had lived during Shakespeare’s time, would have been a great choice to play the spirited Puck on the stage and just as he has done in film, it is safe to say that he would have made the greatest English playwright in history, deeply proud of his performance and portrayal of one of his beloved characters.

Works Cited
Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Norton Shakespeare. Based on The Oxford Edition. 2nd. ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, and Katharine Eisaman Maus. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2008. 849-896. Print.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dir. Michael Hoffman. Perf. Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christian Bale, Stanley Tucci, Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart. Fox Searchlight Pictures. Regency Enterprises. 1999. DVD.…...

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