Puck’s Magic Flower
Generally the mention of Puck will immediately cause a belief that the story must be about Shakespeare’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and so it is with ‘Puck’s Magic Flower’.
The Tale is focussed entirely on the troupe of actors in the play, and their interaction with the fairy King and Queen.
Oberon, the King of the Fairies, has an argument with his wife, Titania, over a young Indian child that Oberon wishes to have as a servant. Titania refuses to relinquish him into his care and so he seeks revenge.
He sends an elf by the name of Puck deep into the forest to find a special flower called ‘Love-in-Idleness’ with magic properties. It has the power to cause someone to fall hopelessly in love with the first living person they see when waking from sleep. Although it is also his intention to unite some runaway lovers, he sees the chance to make Titania appear foolish.
When she falls asleep he squeezes the juice of the plant into her eyes. At the same time we are introduced to a group of actors who have come into the forest to practice a play they intend to perform for the Duke of Athens on the occasion of his wedding the next day. Amongst them is a character called Bottom. He believes he is the most suitable person to play every part, so he is already something of a buffoon, but to further exacerbate the comedy, Puck casts a spell which causes him to have a donkey’s head.
Subsequently when Titania wakens she sees and falls in love with this absurd character. He has already frightened away his actor friends as his head is now so grotesque, aided in no small way by Puck making fearsome noises behind them as they run, and although he cannot fathom how it is that the beautiful Titania is now giving him so much care, he luxuriates in the kindness he is shown.
The two main problems when constructing theTale from the play were to avoid any element of sexualising the reaction of Titania besotted by her being under the magic of the flower, and to avoid any indication that it is okay for someone to put a flower or its contents into anyone’s eyes.
Thus the flower is merely touched near Titania’s eyes, and the level of contact between the protagonists is clearly just overtly friendly and foolish. The contents of the argument are similarly omitted to avoid portraying the exploitation of a child by mythical creatures.
It is from this play that the Shakespuss friend/character Bottom gets his name.
As a consequence he always plays comic parts!