Internet Shakespeare Editions


Hempen homespuns

Bottom the weaver and his fellow tradesmen are called, rather patronizingly, "hempen homespuns" and "rude mechanicals*" by Puck, and "hard-handed men" (because they work with their hands; see 5.1.72) by Philostrate, the master of the revels at the court of Theseus.

The ancient tradition of the mystery plays was that a single guild of workmen would put on each play. Shakespeare, however, has created an acting company made up of several different trades--of which there were many in the City of London.


  1. Bottom is a mechanic?

    See 3.1.76 and 3.2.9. "Mechanicals" is used in an archaic sense, meaning those who work with their hands rather than machines.