How do you think Oberon is able to sneak by the “sentinel” referred to in   2.26?  Can you suggest some stage business that makes this possible? You are Oberon and see Titania...

  1. How do you think Oberon is able to sneak by the “sentinel” referred to in   2.26?  Can you suggest some stage business that makes this possible?

  2. You are Oberon and see Titania sleeping.  Are you angry?  Do you want to revenge yourself on her with this magic juice?  Or, do you see this as simply a light-hearted prank to play on her, similar to what we would call a practical joke today?  

    Based on your answer above, consider how you would say Oberon’s lines at 2.27-34.   Make a list of key words in this speech and how you would inflect or stress them to indicate this subtext.  You may wish to use the chart on the content page as a model.

  3. Now take a look at the last lines of the scene.  Describe Puck’s “merry mix-up” (2.70-75) and its effect on: 

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jalden's profile pic

jalden | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

1. Interesting question! I've seen it dealt with one way that I recall, and that was Oberon simply being way more powerful than a mere fairy, whose job was to guard the Queen from things no more powerful than bugs and crawly things, waved his hand and put the fairy guard to sleep. It is fun to try to imagine other options, and one wonders what was done in its first performance.

2. If I am Oberon, none of those things would be true. Oberon and Titania are archetypes. They represent the basic Male and basic Female Principles in Nature. When those elements are in Harmony, the play is saying, all is right with the world, and when they are in Disharmony, as they are at the beginning of the play, all of Nature is askew. The basic nature of each is to love the other. Lack of love is not why they are apart. Oberon's love for Titania underlies all that he does. What he does (the stealing through trickery of the boy) is what the male nature requires him to do with a growing young boy child. It is time for his mother/surrogate to let him go.

What he does is play a kind and funny and rather sweet trick on his beloved, enabling her to release the child without pain, bringing everything in nature back to order upon her awakening from her dream.

Based on this answer, I'd say that Oberon, who thinks extremely well of himself, is having the time of his life, delighting in his 'pay back,' for her constantly thwarting him about the boy. I don't believe he is angry or intends to cause harm. He wants only to get his way and have some fun getting it. This later became known as The Battle of the Sexes.

Rather than list the words, I will say that I would imagine Oberon taking verbal delight in every particularly nasty verbal image, stoking his enjoyment of the adventure to come.

3. Your full question does not show, but I will answer what I can see. Puck's 'mix-up' in Act 2, scene 2, consists of him mistaking Hermia and Lysander for Demetrius and Helena, and so, putting the magic juice in the wrong man's eyes. The result of this was that Helena, walking by Lysander, wakes him and, the juice which causes the victim to fall in love with the first person they see upon awakening, he instantly 'loves' Helena, forgetting all about his former love, Hermia, lying asleep nearby. Later, his mistake discovered, Puck attempts to remedy it by putting the juice into Demetrius' eyes and being careful to make sure Helena, the one who loves him, is nearby. The result is still wrong, for Demetrius does wake and fall in love with Helena, but Lysander is still under the juice's spell and thinks he is in love with Helena too. Hermia, having awoken, has by now become hysterical because her true love, Lysander, has heartlessly abandoned her, and Demetrius, who was also madly in love with her, is also now indifferent to her and mad about Helena. Helena is not happy either because she believes that the two men, as well as Hermia, are playing some horrible, cruel game with her, making fun of her for their pleasure.The result of Puck's 'mix-up' is one of the funniest, most brilliant series of events articulating the craziness of anyone caught up in the throes of romantic, sexual passion.

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