Starveling, also known as Francis Flute, is a comical character in William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. He is one of the six amateur actors who perform the play within the play, Pyramus and Thisbe, during the Duke of Athens' wedding festivities.
Starveling is a weaver by trade and a member of the Mechanicals, a group of lower-class craftsmen who aspire to be actors. He is known for his timid and anxious nature, often being unsure of himself and lacking confidence in his acting abilities.
Starveling's role in the play is that of the character Thisbe in the play within the play. Thisbe is a young woman who is in love with Pyramus, played by Bottom. Starveling's portrayal of Thisbe is intended to be comedic and exaggerated, adding to the overall hilarity of the performance.
During the rehearsal for Pyramus and Thisbe, Starveling is given the task of playing both the lion and the moon. When he is assigned the role of the lion, he expresses his concern about frightening the ladies in the audience. This highlights his timid nature and adds to the comedic effect.
Despite his apprehensions, Starveling embraces his roles and delivers a memorable performance. His portrayal of Thisbe is filled with exaggerated gestures and melodramatic expressions, drawing laughter from the audience. His portrayal of the lion is equally amusing, as he attempts to roar with a comically soft voice.
Starveling's comedic contribution to the play within the play showcases Shakespeare's skill in creating layered and self-referential humor. The audience is entertained not only by the main plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream but also by the amusing amateur actors and their clumsy attempts at performing.
Overall, Starveling's portrayal of Thisbe and his comedic presence as part of the Mechanicals adds to the lighthearted and joyful atmosphere of A Midsummer Night's Dream. His character serves as a reminder that even the most timid individuals can find their voice and contribute to the world of theater.