Deeper Into Jeopardy! XX: Pin the Tale on the Donkey – $800

Jeopardy! category: PIN THE TALE ON THE DONKEY (28-05-2014)

$800 clue: Titania says “thou art as wise as thou art beautiful” to this Shakespeare character recently made an ass

Correct response

The gist: Even if Titania was being sincere in her admiration of the donkey-headed figure (as she was under the spell of a love potion at the time), being as wise and beautiful as a donkey is traditionally not much of a compliment. Nick Bottom, leading man of the Athenian acting troupe The Mechanicals, had had his head transformed into that of the animal in question by Puck (aka Robin Goodfellow), a fairy in employ or Oberon, King of the Fairies, in Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oberon had ordered Puck to patch up some complications between the lovers Demetrius and Hermia, who had entered the King’s forest, by use of the flower-derived potion, but – wouldn’t you know it? – things go awry. Puck sets up Titania, Oberon’s queen, and the now donkey-headed Bottom so that the Queen would forget about a human child that was causing discord between her and her husband, and it works. Titania becomes more concerned with Bottom than with the child, but once the complications among the human lovers are patched up and Oberon wants his Queen back, the spell becomes a problem. Puck is ordered to remove the enchantment and for a moment, Titania sees with clear eyes what she’s been in love with, and returns to her husband. Bottom becomes fully human once again, and he, along with the other humans, are left thinking that their experience was the titular midsummer night’s dream. Bottom tells the audience he plans to tell his story to a playwright – meaning he won’t leave his ordeals empty-handed after all.

Titania adoring the Ass-Headed Bottom, by Henry Fuseli, c. 1790

The clue: Just a run-of-the-mill Shakespeare clue. A well-prepared Jeopardy! contestant will have reviewed the plots and characters of at least the major Shakespeare plays, of which A Midsummer Night’s Dream is certainly one. One of the contestants (as well as myself) ventured Puck initially – I clearly have my own reviewing to do.

In Jeopardy!: “Nick Bottom,” surprisingly, appears in just three regular clues as well as a single FJ! clue in the J!Archive. Of those, only this one has the character himself as the correct response. The other two regular clues look for the play, while the FJ! clue, asks, appropriately for this installment’s category, what animal both he and Pinocchio are transformed into in their respective works. Then again, even if he hasn’t appeared many times, one will still need to know who he is to know the general plot of the play, so don’t write Mr. Bottom off as unimportant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *