What are some of the magical elements found in Act 2, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One magical element found in Act 2, Scene 1 of A Midsummer Night's Dream is of course the fairies. It is here that we meet the fairies for the first time, including Puck, Oberon, and Titania. Not only are the fairies magical, but we learn of the magical elements pertaining to the fairies, such as their speed. According to Shakespeare's invention, fairies are capable of flying at very rapid speeds. For example, the fairy that first converses with Puck at the beginning of the scene says that he has traveled everywhere "[s]wifter than the moon's sphere," meaning as fast as the moon can circle the earth (I.i.7). Even Puck describes himself as being able to search the whole earth for the "love-in-idleness flower" in forty minutes, as we see in his line, "I'll put a girdle round about the earth / In forty minutes" (178-179).

Other magical elements we see in this scene are references to other magical or even divine beings, such as mermaids and the god of love, Cupid. Oberon refers to a night when he heard a mermaid singing while sitting on a dolphin's back in his lines, "...And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back / Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath" (152-153). Also, Cupid is mentioned as having shot an arrow at a maiden but having also missed, resulting in the arrow landing in a flower instead.

A third magical element we see referred to in this scene is the "love-in-idleness flower." This is what the maidens now call the flower that, after having been hit by Cupid's arrow, has now turned "purple with love's wound" (170-171). The flower now has magical properties and can be used as a love potion. If a person's eyelids are sprinkled with the juice of the flower, when that person wakes up, he or she will fall in love with the first living creature he or she sees. Oberon wants to use the flower to trick Titania into giving him the beautiful Indian boy by distracting her with another love interest instead. Also, when he witnesses Demetrius being cruel to Helena, he wishes to use the flower on Demetrius, thereby solving Helena's love problems.

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question