A Midsummer Night's Dream Fairies Role & Analysis: Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth & Mustardseed

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Rude Mechanicals in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 What Happens on Stage
  • 0:59 The Nature of the Fairies
  • 2:18 The Four Attendant Fairies
  • 3:31 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ginna Wilkerson

Virginia has a Master's degree in Curriculum and Development and a Ph.D. in English

Though they may seem like minor characters, the role of Titania's fairy attendants has much to say about the enchanted forest world depicted in Shakespeare's classic comedy 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.'

What Happens on Stage

The first step in understanding the role of the four attendant fairies is to remember that A Midsummer Night's Dream is written as a script, meant to be performed on stage. Why is that important? The four fairies, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed, are part of the famous playwright's picture of fairyland, the magical place where supernatural creatures dwell. They are associated with the Green World, the space of enchanted forests and meadows where reality is suspended and anything can happen.

But, because you actually see them on the stage, rather than reading about them and imagining how they look and act, the appearance and manner of the four fairies comes largely from however an individual director chooses to interpret Shakespeare's script. This means that the four fairies might be male or female (or gender neutral); they might be small or large; and they might be dressed in many possible ways.

The Nature of the Fairies

In English and Celtic folklore, fairies are generally depicted as mischievous creatures who come out at night to frolic about the countryside playing pranks on innocent people, and, of course, this is what happens in Shakespeare's play. Puck, at Oberon's bidding, puts ''love juice'' on the eyes of both Titania (the fairy Queen) and the two young suitors from Athens who venture into the forest. Puck is also the one who enchants the weaver, Bottom, turning his head into that of a donkey, and, much to King Oberon's amusement, when Titania awakes under the magic spell, it is the donkey-headed weaver with whom she falls madly in love.

These tricks create the comedic situations in the play, but no one is truly harmed, and all ends happily. Shakespeare's fairies, including the prankster Puck, are associated with the more positive side of the supernatural realm. However, in the Early Modern era in which Shakespeare lived and wrote, fairies were sometimes thought of as associated with the Underworld and the Devil. It was thought that fairies could entice people to leave their homes or cause perfectly normal mortals to go insane.

In addition, like other supernatural creatures in human-like form, fairies were often represented as sexually dangerous, or even violent. A fairy, like a water sprite or incubus, could lure an innocent man into disastrous circumstances.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support