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.