A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The final scene in Midsummer Night’s Dream shows how Oberon’s magical power, works in the love lives of three couples, and they are promised with almost perfect children, as a symbol of love’s culmination and continuation (Green 375-80). The essay is built upon this theme.
The scene starts with a conversation between Theseus and Hippolyta, duke and duchess of Athens. The fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania with Puck and other fairies are also there. Some attendants of Theseus and Hippolyta are Philostrate, Lysander, Demetrius, Helena, Hermia, Pyramus, Thisbe Wall, Lion, and Moonshine, some of whom are lovers too. The play is centered on the theme of the love and in its various shades, such as trials and tribulations, reciprocation and rejection, secret and open, elopement, fun, trickery and deceit and misunderstandings. It also shows committed love, culminating into marriage as with Theseus and Hippolyta, in the final scene, and the already fairy married royal couple, Oberon, and Titania. Parallel love affairs are shown within the same society, on the fringes of society as in forested areas, different social classes, and also other worlds like the fairy kingdom. The time when Titania falls in love with a being with an ass’ head, shows the connection between animal and human world.
Magic and love potion are used as tools to show love’s power and strength, in its surreal and supernatural forms, in this play. Here the issues of love and marriage are entwined with power itself, mainly love’s power. It could be honest or filled with trickery. The magic or fantasy world is a place where very few have control; the normal set of circumstances is a highly deviant one. So the power of magic and deception forms a parallel theme here. This is where the humans with their power system become weak encountering the fairy world. Theseus and Hippolyta are a couple who show a comparatively stable disposition against the magical powers. They are not totally immune. The conflict and power issues between real and surreal, human and fairy, animal and human, nobility and common, social and solitariness are a recurring theme here, with love itself, and its own power struggles or construction ability.
An example of magical power pervasion is found in this final scene when Theseus and Hippolyta get married. Midnight when humans sleep is when the other world of fairies awake, and dance on the moonlight beams. So when Theseus and the rest go off to bed, Puck enters with a song. He is soon followed by Oberon. He refers to the Duke of Athens’ house and says the dead and drowsy fire gives a faint light to the house, and all fairy folk dance softly and daintily in this nightly light. Titania also motivates him to sing and dance. Oberon says he will visit each of three couple’s bed, and the best couple will be blessed with future children who will be fortunate. The best couple in question is taken to be the Athenian royal couple, Theseus, and Hippolyta. No natural diseases or scars will be present in their children. No mole in the skin, or broken lip, no defective marks on the body, will be found in the children. All chambers in the palace will be safe in sweet and heavenly peace, and by dawn break all troubles and their memories will vanish (Marshall 550-55).
The future children being so perfect and harmonious, is kind of strange in this play, since romantic and committed love with its rocky path, among couples forms the main theme here. Apart from the usual troubles in the human world of love, there were instigated ones by the fairy folk, filled with fun and pranks. It started with the fairy King Oberon’s idea of pouring a love potion in his queen’s Titania’s eyes, through his page boy Puck since Titania did not want to give up her page boy. This was just to pay back Titania but on a jolly note. The love potion was meant to make a person fall in love after he or she awakes and sees the first person. Apart from Titania’s plight, there were some human beings who had crossed the fairy world, had fallen into the power of this potion. They were already troubled lovers, and when the magic took shape, a lot of further misunderstandings ensued (Hunt 9-12).
Funnily it is the same magical power, specifically in the love arena, proved to be the cleansing power of all troubles. The lovers could reconcile through the intervention of the same fairy folk, who were the troublemakers, and ultimately were assured of children who would not be ridden with troubles or diseases, as they were emotionally in their love lives. Thus love’s magical power and charm, whether positive or negative, is highly influenced by the greater magical power, which shaped the course of events, in the play.
It can be seen, Oberon’s magical power was both a blessing and a curse in the play. He did contribute to destruction in the lovers’ lives, but he reconciled them and blessed them with future healthy issues.
Green, Douglas E. Preposterous Pleasures: Queer Theories and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In Kehler, Dorothea. A Midsummer Night’s Dream Critical Essays. New York: Garland Publishing. 1998. Print.
Hunt, Maurice. Individuation in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream. South Central Review. 1986. Print.
Marshall, David. Exchanging Visions: Reading ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ELH. Print.