-thinks mortals are fools
-turned a guy into a donkey
-proceeded to make jokes about how the guy was an ass
-made his queen fall in love with the guy
-gave a love potion to the WRONG PERSON
-ran around the earth in 40 minutes (how????)
-eventually fixed the mess he made but it took the ENTIRE NIGHT
ok SO you know what, there are some fascinating parallels to be drawn if you cast Puck as a child, or at least around the same age as the orphan boy Titania and Oberon fight over.
like i’m sure i’m not the only one who’s thought this, but wouldn’t it be really interesting if once upon a time, Puck was a (very young) faerie-esque child who was also fought over by the fairy rulers and was quickly neglected in favor of other pursuits???? and now he serves Oberon not only to try and mess his plans up but also because he still seeks any form of attention by any means necessary.
so when Titania abandons the orphan boy in favor of doting over Bottom, it’s like, another cycle is being repeated; the orphan boy ends up in Oberon and Tiania’s shared custody, sure, but i think his fate is ultimately pretty ambiguous. unless you see Puck, who is wild and chaotic and resourceful and tricks people because what else is he going to do, how else is he going to get any form of validation?
he hates and pities the orphan boy, who is so loved and cherished like an object, like a plaything, and puck knows all too well what will happen to that child. and he laughs at the lovers, these foolish mortals who think love is so easily given and received; they don’t know the dangers that lurk in the forest. love can be taken away as easily as it is transferred. puck imitates their calls and laughs and laughs, but he is jealous of them, because just this once, he wants someone to care for him too. the way a parent is supposed to.
when he says, “I will lead them up and down/I am feared in field and town/Goblin, lead them up and down,” (3. 2 line 408ish, i’m too lazy to 100% cite this) he is proving to himself that yes, he is terrifying, he is a monster, of course he is feared. that’s why no one can stand him. it’s what he’s good at, he can’t be anything else. he’s tried. nothing works.
i think the bit of hope that can be gleaned from this interpretation is that in the end, Puck DOES form a connection with the audience. we laugh with him when the lovers fumble about in the woods, we are fascinated by his trickster antics and when he speaks, we listen. after all, he drives the plot. he makes everything happen, really: it wouldn’t be Midsummer without Puck. when he delivers his final epilogue, it should be a moment of happiness, of childlike joy and desperate relief, because finally, he is alone and all eyes are on him, everyone is listening to him, everyone sees him. for a brief, eternal moment, the relationship he forges with the audience is genuine and true and for once, he is loved. it may be his fantasy, his own dream, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
rain glittered through sunlight
from an empty sky, our tongues
catching stories as they fell
we were not a supposed age
or any age at all, just two bodies,
guests of a midsummer day–
i dreamed of you laughing
and you dreamed of me happy
and the day bereaved of us
our many folds for a small time.
shadows grew long with jealousy
but never touched upon us;
prismatic light refracted, spread
like latticed fingers underwater,
making origami of depth
and movement, we patterned
like a pair of interlocking pieces,
revealed by its unlimited view.