How do Theseus and Oberon prove themselves to be wise, what is Puck's character sketch, and how does Bottom react to the fairies?

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1. Thesus proves himself a wise leader in Act IV. After having witnessed the young lovers asleep in the woods when he and his queen arrive for the hunt, he has them awakened and, after teasing them some, he inquires the reason for their being in the forest. When Lysander explains that he and Hermia fled Athenian law so they could be married, Hermia's angered father, Egeus, demands, 

Enough, enough, my lord; you have enough:
I beg the law, the law, upon his head (4.1.155-156)

But, Demetrius interrupts, explaining that he, at first, also ran into the woods to find Hermia, but in the course of things, he realizes that he no longer loves her; instead, he is in love with Helena, with whom he originally was betrothed. Having heard the words of the youths, Thesus realizes that Demetrius has resolved his own dilemmas, so there is no need to enforce the law and make Hermia and Lysander miserable. Therefore, he tells them,

Fair lovers, you are fortunately met:
Of this discourse we more will hear anon.
Egeus, I will overbear your will;
For in the temple, by and by, with us
These couples shall eternally be knit....(4.1.178-182)

2. Oberon, the king of the fairies, is power hungry and consumed with jealousy. He is even jealous of the changeling boy because Titania dotes upon him. He has had many affairs, supposedly even one with Hippolyta, who is characterized as being Oberon's former "warrior love" (2.1.2).  If he shows any wisdom at all, it is in having Demetrius sprinkled so that he will again fall in love with Helen; further, he does extend his efforts to assure that the young lovers end with the appropriate partner by having Puck sprinkle them appropriately.

3. Puck's activities: 

  • Puck follows Oberon's orders to "Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments" (1.1.12).
  • Puck "frights the maidens of the villagery" (2.2.35)
  • Puck flies around the world to obtain Oberton's love juice
  • He mistakes Lysander for the Demetrius upon whom he was supposed to sprinkle love juice so that Demetrius would return Helen's love.
  • He changes Bottom's head into that of an donkey (ass)
  • Later, he retrieves the antidote to the love juice and squeezes it onto the young lovers, except for Demetrius and ensures that everyone ends up with the proper partner.
  • He restores Titania and Bottom to their original selves
  • He is a "lord of misrule" figure, and, as such, is the proper character to close the play with his remark that if the audience is not satisfied, "We will make amends ere long..."(5.1.425).

4.  After Bottom bungles his lines while he and the other mechanicals rehearse in the woods, the trickster Puck intervenes and changes Bottom's head into that of a donkey, an act that frightens the others off. Bottom is left alone, so he starts to sing as an indication that he is not afraid. In the meantime, Titania has awakened, but only after having had the love potion sprinkled on her, so she falls in love with the first creature she sees, which is Bottom. He tries to tell her that she cannot love a man with the head of an ass, but Titania insists. So, he enjoys her attentions and follows her to her "flowery bed" where Titania showers him with affection. Bottom orders some of the fairies to scratch his ears and Peasblossom to scratch his head and others to bring him honey and food. In short, he adores their attention to him.

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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