How does Shakespeare use magic in Act III of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
In Acts II and III of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare shows Oberon, the king of the Fairies, and his assistant Puck using magic to cast spells on lovers. No magic is featured in Act I. In the first discussion of magic, in Act II, Scene 1, Oberon expresses his request that Puck go and pick a flower that has the magical property of making a person fall in love. When Puck brings him the flower, Oberon uses it on Titania. In Act II, Scene 2, as he squeezes the flower’s essence into her eyes, he says,
What thou seest when thou dost wake,
Do it for thy true-love take;
Love and languish for his sake.
Oberon also uses his magical ability to become invisible. Oberon is motivated by both jealousy and a mischievous spirit to enchant his wife, Titania, and the young Athenian lovers who are lost in the forest. A misunderstanding about the intended target’s identity leads Puck to uses the flower on the wrong person. In Act III, Scene I, Puck magically gives Bottom, one of the Rude Mechanicals, the head of an ass. This transformation occurs offstage. When Bottom re-enters transformed, he is the first person Titania sees upon waking, so she falls in love with him, saying:
So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;
And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me,
On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.