According to Titania, how does Oberon’s anger affect the human world in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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tamarakh's profile pic

Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Titania tells Oberon that his petty jealousy of the Indian boy and their awful fight has basically turned the world upside down, wreaking havoc.

She tells Oberon that he is responsible for making the wind bring a plague upon the land in the form of "contagious," or infectious frogs from the ocean (II.i.90). She also declares that the plague of frogs has overflowed the rivers, making them flood every continent. Furthermore, the floods, of course, have ruined the crops. The flooding has wreaked further havoc by starving all the livestock because, of course, their grass is dead and drowned in water.

Finally, she argues that their fighting has turned the seasons upside down. "Ice-cold frosts" are forming in spring time, at the same time that flowers are blooming. The frost is covering the roses and "sweet summer buds" (111). Finally, she portrays the mix-up of the seasons and the confused state of the human beings by declaring:

The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries; and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which. (112-115)

Hence, we see that Titania blames Oberon's jealousy and their ridiculous fight for a great deal of destruction in the world.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Critics have frequently remarked upon the "profusion of poetic imagery" with which Shakespeare's bountiful imagination endows the fairy world in A Midsummer Night's Dream. This delightful outpouring of imagery from the fairy world is presented in the first scene of Act II with the arrival of the fairy and Puck. Soon, Titania, the queen of the fairies, and Oberon, the king, also arrive. But, because of the tension between Oberon and Titania, there is a change in atmosphere.

When they first encounter one another after having entered from either side of the glade, the fairy king and queen accuse each other of coming near to Athens because of their secret loves for two of the royals there. That is, Oberon accuses Titania of loving Theseus, while Titania accuses Oberon of loving Hippolyta and desiring to wish blessings upon her marriage. But what really consumes Oberon is his jealousy over his queen's having taken a little Indian prince for her own, along with her refusal to relinquish the child. Titania insists that she must keep the boy because his mother was a devotee who died in childbirth. Still, Oberon wants this boy in order to make him his "henchman," or page boy.
 
All this discord in the supernatural world, which is part of the Great Chain of Being, has its influence upon the natural world. Titania tells Oberon that with his "brawls" he has prevented her and her fairies from dancing for the winds. Angered by this neglect, the winds have "suck'd up from the sea / Contagious fogs" (2.174-75). These fogs have so much moisture in them that they have filled the rivers to overflowing, and the flooding causes the crops to rot. Now the sheep pens are empty because the sheep have had nothing to eat.
 
This upsetting of nature produces adverse changes. For one thing, because winter experiences "summer buds" as though in mockery, the seasons do not change properly. Consequently, the natural world is upset:
 
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound. (2.1.88-90)
As a consequence of the upsetting of the natural pattern of seasons, the seasons have begun to change, and there is great disorder. All these changes Titania attributes to Oberon's jealous quarreling with her.
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