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ACT IV, SCENE 2
Peter Quince and the other "actors" have gathered. They are worried about the missing Bottom; Starveling feels certain that he has been "transported." They all wonder what their play will be like without him, for no one else is suited to play the role of Pyramus. They wail about the fact that Bottom has missed the chance of his life to prove his skills to the Duke and earn a handsome reward.
Snug rushes in and informs the group that the Duke has left the temple, and with him there are two ladies and two lords who have been married along with the Duke. Next Bottom enters. Although there is no time at the present to do so, he explains to his friends he has wonders to tell them about.
When they receive word that the Duke has already dined, they all rush to the court, wasting no more words or time.
This is the shortest scene in the play. Its main purpose is to restore Bottom to his friends so that the interlude can proceed as planned. Before Bottom arrives, the craftsmen wonder about their missing friend. The conversation is again filled with malapropisms. Quince says that Bottom was a "paramour"of a sweet voice. Flute corrects him saying, "You must say paragon: a paramour is, God bless us, a thing of naught." All of the craftsmen agree, however, on the worth of Bottom; none feel like they are good enough to play the part of Pyramus, even though Bottom took to it easily. They also say that Bottom "hast simply the best wit of any handicraft man in Athens." They finally agree that he is "the best person too."
Starveling is certain that his friend has been captured and transported to another world. Flute exclaims that Bottom is going to lose a lot of money by not being present; he feels certain that the Duke would be so impressed with Bottom's acting that he would have rewarded him with a pension of six pence a day. (It was a custom in Elizabethan times for a patron, such as the Duke, to reward outstanding actors for their performance. It has been recorded that Thomas Priston, the author of Cambyses, performed before Elizabeth in 1564, and the queen was so pleased that she awarded him a pension of twenty pounds or year.)
It is amazing that Bottom's friends think so highly of him. When Bottom, still filled with conceit and self-assurance, arrives on the scene just in time to save the interlude, he immediately takes his bullying stance. He directs his friends to "eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath." Bottom then hurries them off to the court, reminding them that there is not time for waste or words.