Character Analysis Puck


Oberon's jester and lieutenant, Puck is a powerful supernatural creature, capable of circling the globe in 40 minutes or of enshrouding unsuspecting mortals in a deep fog. Also known as Robin Goodfellow, Puck would have been familiar to a sixteenth-century English audience, who would have recognized him as a common household spirit also often associated with travelers. But he's also a "puck," an elf or goblin that enjoys playing practical jokes on mortals. Although he is more mischievous than malevolent, Puck reminds us that the fairy world is not all goodness and generosity.

Another definition of his name aligns him with a Norse demon, sometimes associated with the devil. Perhaps it isn't surprising that he brings a somewhat more dangerous element to Titania and Oberon's seemingly benevolent fairy realm. He invokes the "damned spirits" that wander home to graveyards after a night of evil doing, while Oberon reminds him that his band of fairies are aligned with the morning dew, with sunlight and joy. Unlike Oberon who genuinely tries to create human happiness, Puck seems indifferent to human suffering. When he has accidentally caused both Lysander and Demetrius to fall in love with Helena, Puck enjoys the pleasure their folly brings him. Although he restores the proper lovers to each other, he does so only at Oberon's request, not out of any feelings of remorse. Similarly, Oberon feels repentance for Titania's idiotic love for Bottom, but Puck doesn't. While Oberon and Titania bless the newlyweds in Act V, Puck reminds the audience of the dangers of the night, graves gaping open and wolves howling at the moon. As a traditional Shakespearean fool, Puck makes us aware of the darker side of life, the underworld realm of shadows and magic and, ultimately, death.