Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he? (Act ii., Scene i.)
To this Puck replies,
Thou speak'st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And 'tailor' cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there. (Act ii., Scene i.)
This exchange between Puck and the fairy helps the audience get to know Puck before the action starts happening so that they see how mischievous and playful he is.
Puck is Oberon's servant and is sent by Oberon, who is angry with Titania the fairy queen, to fetch the flower that has been hit by one of cupid's arrows and is told to apply its juice to the eyelids of Titania so that when she wakes up, she will fall in love with the next creature that she sees. Oberon also orders Puck to use the love juice to mend the love problems occurring between the Athenian lovers who also happen to be running about in the forest. He mistakenly administers the charm to the sleeping Lysander instead of Demetrius. Puck provides Nick Bottom with a donkey's head so that Titania will fall in love with a beast and forget her attachment to the Changeling Boy, allowing Oberon to take the child from her. (Oberon does so successfully.) Later, Puck is ordered by Oberon to fix the mistake he (Puck) made, by producing a dark fog, leading the lovers astray within it by imitating their voices, and then applying more of the flower to Lysander's eyes, which will reverse the effect. The four lovers are then made to believe that they simply dreamt everything that took place in the forest (hence the play's title A Midsummer Night's Dream). At the end of the play Puck makes a speech directly to the audience:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends. (Act v. Scene i.)
Puck apologizes to the audience for anything that might have offended them and suggests that they pretend it was a dream. This monologue directly addresses the audience and ties them in to the play.
During the midpoint of the play, Puck delivers one of his most memorable lines, and in turn, offers a metacritical comment on both the play and on lovers in real life: "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" -------A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, scene 2, 110–115
Stanley Tucci played Puck in the 1999 film
Phil Daniels portrayed Puck in the 1981 BBC Shakespeare television production
Ian Holm played Puck in the 1968 film
Mickey Rooney played Puck in the Oscar winning 1935 film
John Kane played Puck with The Royal Shakespeare Company in 1970
High School Productions with now Famous People
Hilarie Burton played Puck with Park View High School