Oberon and Titania are King and Queen of the Fairies, but their tumultuous relationship causes havoc in the natural world. When Titania adopts a little Changeling Boy, jealousy sends Oberon over the edge and he seeks revenge.
A Rocky Relationship
Does familiarity breed contempt? In the relationship between the King of the Fairies, Oberon, and his Fairy Queen, Titania, this certainly seems to be the case. Though they’ve been together forever, it’s anything but smooth sailing. This lesson will focus on the relationship and fight between Oberon and Titania in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Before the Changeling
It would be easy to blame the Changeling Boy for the problems that come up between Titania and Oberon, but there are hints given that all was not paradise for the King and Queen of the Fairies beforehand.
Titania even admits that their fighting has caused problems with the weather. Titania says a ‘progeny of evil’ has come from their fighting.While Oberon and Titania obviously love each other, they aren’t exactly faithful to each other.
Oberon claims Titania is in love with Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Titania accuses Oberon of affairs with several mortal women, including Theseus’s fiancee, Hippolyta. So everything with the Fairies isn’t all sunshine and roses, even before the Changeling Boy comes into the picture.
The Boy Comes Between Them
The fight between Oberon and Titania starts with a character so insignificant (at first glance at least) that he isn’t even named. But the little Changeling Boy, who Titania got from India, is the wedge that drives Oberon and Titania apart.Oberon demands the boy from Titania so he can become an attendant in Oberon’s court. He doesn’t see this as a large request, saying ‘I do but beg a little changeling boy.
‘ But, Titania will have none of it. She has been taking care of the boy in memory of her friend, who died birthing him. She spends all her time with the boy, and Oberon is jealous enough to plan revenge on her in order to get his way.
Oberon approaches Puck, his fairy servant, with a single request. He asks Puck to find the juice of a flower that will make Titania fall in love with the first thing she sees. He then tells Puck to make sure that the first thing is a monster. Puck, who loves playing tricks on people and fairies alike, joyfully accepts and changes the head of Bottom, an actor rehearsing in the woods, into that of a donkey.When Titania awakes, she sees Bottom (with his donkey head) and immediately falls in love with him. She spends hours in her bower with Bottom, feeding him oats and hay and having her fairy attendants play music and dance for him.
The Lovers Reunite
While she’s enthralled with Bottom, Oberon asks Titania for the Changeling Boy.
Distracted, she agrees, and Oberon instantly takes the boy away. Then, feeling he’s had his revenge, Oberon creeps up to the sleeping Titania and applies the antidote to her eyes. He then awakens her, and she tells him ‘Methought I was enamoured of an ass.’ Oberon laughs and tells her it was not a dream and points to the sleeping Bottom.
Titania is horrified at the sight of the monster, and Oberon realizes that he’s had his revenge.Thus, the Fairy King and Queen reunite and go together to bless the beds of the mortal lovers: Theseus and his bride Hippolyta, Hermia and her Lysander, and Helena and the still-bespelled Demetrius. They promise that all the lovers will live happily ever after and will have beautiful, healthy children.
Though they obviously love each other, Oberon, King of the Fairies, and his wife, Queen Titania, have a rocky relationship. They’re not faithful to each other, and their fighting has even been affecting the weather. What really breaks the couple up is the Changeling Boy, a young Indian boy that Titania is caring for.
Oberon is jealous and decides to seek revenge on his Queen when she refuses to give the boy to him.Oberon enlists his servant Puck to help him play a trick on Titania. They cause her to fall in love with Bottom, a player who has been bewitched into having the head of a donkey. What Oberon decides to do to Titania is pretty funny on first glance but ultimately causes humiliation to Titania and the loss of the one thing she really loves, her little Changeling Boy.
Oberon’s jealousy destroys some of Titania’s happiness.