A Midsummer Night's Dream Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does Titania respond when Oberon asks for the fairy child this time?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,495 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

At the beginning of the play, a quarrel has broken out between Oberon and Titania over an Indian child. Oberon wants the child to be a knight in attendance on him because he is "jealous" of the way Titania dotes on the boy. Oberon wants Titania's attention back. He is not happy that Titania makes the Indian boy "all her joy."
A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king.
She never had so sweet a changeling.
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild.
But she perforce withholds the lovèd boy,
Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy. Act II, 1
This quarrel has a negative effect on the weather and the crops in England:
Contagious fogs, which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard. Act II, 1
But Titania insists she will not give up the child because she had promised its mortal Indian mother that she would take care of him:
And for her sake do I rear up her boy,
And for her sake I will not part with him. Act II, 1
As a result, Oberon has Puck cast a spell on Titania that causes her to fall in love with Bottom, who is transformed so that he has the head of an ass. Part of this spell is to make Titania look ridiculous, but the main reason is to divert her attention away from the Indian boy. The ploy works. Once she is in love with Bottom, Titania loses all interest in the boy:
When I had at my pleasure taunted her
And she in mild terms begged my patience,
I then did ask of her her changeling child,
Which straight she gave me and her fairy sent
To bear him to my bower in Fairyland.
And now I have the boy, I will undo
This hateful imperfection of her eyes. Act IV, 1
Titania "straight" (immediately) gives up the child, sending him to Oberon's "bower" in Fairyland without a murmur of protest.
A repeated theme of the play is that it is impossible to be in love with more than one object at a time. We see this when the fairy love potion makes Lysander fall in love with Helena. Once he is in love with Helena, he despises Hermia and turns on her. While Titania does not turn on the Indian boy, she similarly loses all interest in him because of her new love object. She mounts no protest at all when Oberon asks for him back.
Thus, the episode with Bottom not only shows that fairies, as well as mortals, can be "fools" about love, but illustrates that we can only love one at time. Further, it reveals that Oberon is a savvy ruler who knows how to achieve his aims. 


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

Because you say "this time" I assume you mean the second time he asks -- not the first one at the beginning of the play.

In that case, what you are looking for is found in Act IV, Scene 1.  We do not actually see Oberon ask Titania for the child.  Instead, we hear him telling Puck about what happened.

He tells Puck that Titania was quite happy to give him the child.  As soon he asked, she said yes and sent a fairy to get the child and bring him to Oberon's home.

Oberon says she responded this way because he was making fun of her for being in love with donkey-headed Bottom.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial