King Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream: Traits & Analysis

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  • 0:01 Oberon & Titania
  • 1:40 Oberon & Puck
  • 2:37 Oberon's Scheme
  • 3:08 Oberon & Humans
  • 3:53 Oberon's Triumph
  • 4:16 Analysis & Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is one of Shakespeare's most magical plays, primarily set in a wood inhabited by fairies. Although benign, Oberon is the demanding king of the fairies who won't let anything stop him from getting just what he wants.

Oberon & Titania

King Oberon of the fairies definitely calls the shots, as it were, in the forest. As the play opens, we see him in conflict with his wife, Queen Titania, over a little Indian boy she has adopted as her own. Oberon wants the child to train as his personal henchman. That idea is distasteful to Queen Titania, and thus the conflict, so she has 'forsworn his bed and company' (2.1).

As Act II, Scene 1 opens, Oberon and Titania are arguing. Not only is Titania irritated with Oberon over his desire to take the orphan boy for his own purposes, but she also accuses him of flirting with others. Oddly, she is also jealous of the Amazon Queen, Hippolyta, who will be married to Duke Theseus soon. Titania is very proud, and won't stand for duplicity. Oberon tells Titania that he is her lord, in an effort to assert his position in the marriage, but Titania is an even match for his strong will. We get the impression that King Oberon believes he can do whatever he wants, when he wants. He seems to have difficulty with not getting his own way.

Oberon is so bent on getting the Indian boy for his henchman that he disturbs Titania at every turn. The fairies have some control over the weather, and Titania accuses Oberon of throwing off the natural order of weather patterns because he keeps interrupting her ritualistic dances with the other fairies. She is obviously so irritated with Oberon that she basically moves out on her own.

Oberon & Puck

Throughout the play, we see King Oberon giving orders to his right hand fairy, Puck, or Robin Goodfellow. Puck loves to play tricks on humans in a good-natured way. After Titania leaves in a huff, Oberon instructs Puck to go and pick a certain flower that grew from one of Cupid's arrows that missed hitting a person and hit the ground, instead. It is called 'love-in-idleness.' He tells Puck, 'Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew'd thee once: The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid {w}ill make or man or woman madly dote {u}pon the next live creature that it sees' (2.1). Oberon intends to drop the juice from the flower into Titania's eyes while she sleeps. When she awakens, she will temporarily fall in love with the first creature she sees. Oberon hopes that the creature is a ridiculous as possible, and he gets his wish!

Oberon's Scheme

Puck always does his master's bidding, and he gets the magic flower for Oberon, who drips it into Titania's eyes. When Titania wakes up, the first person she sees is the human with a donkey's head, Bottom! Titania really does make a fool of herself, much to Oberon's delight, by the way she dotes on Bottom. Oberon's plan is more complicated, however, than just humiliating Titania. While she is so occupied with Bottom, he steals the Indian boy for himself.

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