Poking the Puck: An Examination of Puck from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream
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My independent study has focused on unveiling the history and personality behind the character that Shakespeare calls Puck. This character has a strange history of representations that go beyond the traditional faerie. Shakespeare’s Puck is an image carved from the pre-existing figure called Robin Goodfellow, who eventually becomes a cultural symbol of devilry, lust, and the ever-fearsome unknown. Shakespeare shapes Puck into a character representing himself as a mere tool of Oberon, the King of Faeries. However, Puck is also both the trigger for instinctual Freudian eros and the strange center of a triangle involving Oberon and Titania, and another triangle involving Helena and Oberon. The relationship between Puck and Oberon can also be understood in contrast to Ariel and Prospero in The Tempest. Puck represents and legitimizes the connection between Greco-Roman mythology, native English faerie lore, and the forces shaping early modern England. In his essential mischief, he show similarities to and emerges from Cupid, Dionysus, and satyrs. Although Oberon is often credited with being the mastermind of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, perhaps Puck, in his impish invisibility, is the greatest puppet-master of all.