Are all of imagination compact. ” He is saying that because they are in love, they are making up this story and their minds are more likely to make up stories when they are in love. Hippolyta, however, realises that, “all their minds transfigured so together”, meaning their stories all match, and it would be impossible that they would all have the same dream. She seems to be able to open her mind more to the possibility that they may be telling the truth, and she is such a mysterious character you can almost believe she knows something of what went on.
Oberon and Titania are sometimes portrayed as the night time equivalent of Theseus and Hippolyta. Thesues and Hippolyta rule the day, whilst Titania and Oberon rule the night. They are the king and queen of the fairies, and I think they represent nature in this play. They are also married, but they are not on speaking terms in the beginning. This represents the discord in nature, which is going on at the time of the play. In a speech, Titania explains the turmoil in nature because of their row. “Contagious fogs… … have overborne the continents.
The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn Hath rotted”. This is just one of the examples she gives of how nature is in disorder because of their argument. I think it is also the reason for the discord between the lovers, because nature is in disarray and the view back then was that everything was controlled by nature. When Titania and Oberon are unhappy, everyone is unhappy. To resolve everyone’s problems, you know Titania and Oberon must make up. Their quarrel is like the earth being imbalanced; they have sent everything into chaos. There are two reasons why they fell out.
One reason is that Titania accuses Oberon of cheating on her with Hippolyta. Oberon replies that Titania is in love with Theseus. If Titania is a representation of Hippolyta and Oberon an image of Theseus, the fairy characters could be uncovering Theseus and Hippolyta’s true feelings, how they have issues between them but cannot show this to the world because they are important people and must marry for the good of their society. It may be that only in the wood by moonlight can they show their real opinions. The other reason is a dispute about the welfare of an Indian child which Titania is bringing up.
Oberon wants the child to become his ‘henchman’, but Titania insists she will take care of it, because he belonged to one of her followers who died and she feels it is her duty to look after him. It is a power struggle between the strong role of a male and the more gentle wishes of the female. Their quarrel is ‘un-natural’, not just because they are important nature fairies and shouldn’t fall out, but also because the man in a marriage is supposed to be in charge; Titania threatening his authority is strange to the Elizabethan audience.
However, in the end, Oberon gets his way and Titania agrees to give up the Indian boy whilst under the influence of a love potion. This mirrors the fact that Theseus also gets what he wants in the end, which is a marriage with Hippolyta. It is as if they have finally ‘trained’ their women to do their ‘duty’, as it was seen. The women have obeyed the men and all seems natural and ordered in the universe. The lovers are reunited with their rightful partners and there is a happy ending.
This tells us a lot about the view of marriage at that time, and although Shakespeare is reminding his audience that a woman must have some input in a relationship, he is also saying the man must ultimately be in charge. Another important point to do with Titania and Oberon is the use of the love potion. Oberon uses it on Titania to make her agree to give him the Indian child. Titania falls in love with one of the ‘mechanicals’ planning to perform a play for Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding. His name is Bottom, and Puck had recently supplied him with a donkey’s head rather than his human one.
Bottom is an image of a normal, working-class man. His brief relationship with Titania depicts how humans are always trying to find something greater than themselves; in this case, Bottom has found Titania, Queen of the Fairies. Their union is the greatest contrast of all the couples. Titania is a Queen, almost God-like, whereas Bottom is simply a weaver who does a little acting in his spare time. This represents how when in love, you do not see the faults of someone, only believe them to be perfect.
I will now look closer into the characters commonly called the lovers: Hermia, Lysander, Denetrius and Helena. At the beginning of the play, none of them are happy. Hermia’s father is trying to force her to marry Demetrius, but she and Lysander are in love. Helena loves Demetrius, but Demetrius likes Hermia as well. Hermia’s father tells Hermia that if she will not marry Demetrius, she will either be killed or forced to live in a nunnery. This is one of the possibilities this play explores; would life be better without men? The theme of love is best characterised by the actions of the lovers.
The idea that love is ‘blinding’ and clouds their judgement is shown by their irrational behaviour. Helena is in love with Demetrius even though she knows he is unfaithful. Lysander says “Demetrius… Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena, And won her soul; and she… dotes in idolatry, Upon this spotted and inconstant man”. This shows Demetrius used to be in love with Helena, but now would rather marry Hermia, even though Helena is still in love with him. Helena has been hurt by him, but the nature of love has clouded her judgement and she cannot see him as anything but wonderful.
Also, Hermia would rather suffer death or life in a nunnery than being prevented from being with Lysander. She is also a bit out of touch with reality, her love for Lysander getting in the way of her judgement. Another example of men being in charge is Hermia’s father, Egeus, ‘owning’ his daughter and being able to choose who she marries. This was the view in Elizabethan times; the daughter was her father’s ‘property’ until she was married, when she became the property of her husband. Only Theseus could overrule Egeus’ will eventually when he realised that Demetrius no longer wished to marry Hermia.
Some of the wood scenes have references to the sexual feelings that they are not usually revealed. For example, Lysander tries to tempt Hermia to sleep with him. He says, “One turf shall serve as pillow for us both, One heart, one bed, two bosoms”. This would not normally be seen as acceptable before marriage, but it seems that in the wood, they can show what they truly feel. There are also some violent images, for example Demetrius threatens to rape Helena if she doesn’t leave him alone, and later says he will have Lysander torn apart by dogs.
There is also the altercation between Helena and Hermia, where Hermia threatens to scratch Helena’s eyes out. These feelings are probably what these characters feel sometimes. But they are never usually allowed to express it. The less structured world of the wood allows them to let off some steam. The events in the wood uncover some feelings which would normally be hidden in the strictness of the city. Many of the most confusing scenes are due to the interference of a love potion which Oberon tells Puck to put on the eyes of the Athenians.
The potion will make the person fall in love with the first living thing they see, and will go after this creature until they can be with it. This is actually simply a plot device to represent the effect love can have over people. It is illustrating how crazy people are when in love and that nothing will get in the way of their feelings. The stage the lovers are in when we meet them seems to be middle of their emotional journey together. There are hints at their past, where they were merely friends and things were less complicated.
Helena asks of Hermia, “Will you rent our ancient love asunder, To join with men in scorning your poor friend? ” This is perhaps suggesting that friendship can be a stronger bond than love, as in it will never fail. The idea about love is that it is less certain and can be changeable and inconstant. It can break up friendships with the clouding of normal views, and poses the question, which is more important, love or friendship? The time of life we mainly see the lovers at is during their confused, passionate feelings for each other overshadowing everything else.
The confusion they feel is linked to the mysteriousness of the wood and the falling out of Titania and Oberon. This is the stage of first love, which can be bewildering. It provokes jealous feelings between them, which are shown in the wood. The conclusion of the play sees the lovers wake from their ‘dream’ of the night and find they are much calmer and everything is sorted out. Demetrius is back in love with Helena and Lysander and Hermia are left in peace to marry. The language they use shows they have become more thoughtful and less wilful and headstrong.
Phrases such as ‘methinks’ and ‘Are you sure that we are awake? ‘ show their more careful approach to life, now that they have come through the trials of a first romance and can settle down to marriage. Shakespeare is saying that the purpose of marriage is to bring order, and has shown this through the great changes the lovers have undertaken throughout the play. Some darker aspects of marriage are touched on through the mentioning of other myths. For instance, in the play the mechanicals’ play tells the story of a tragic match between Pyramus and Thisby, in which both end up killing themselves.
However, this is performed in an extremely comic way, so as not to emphasise the tragedy too much. I think Shakespeare is telling his audience to accept the fact that some unions do not work out, but reassuring them that most do. The play brings about the question of the reason for marriage. Should it be for love, as in the case of Lysander and Hermia and Demetrius and Helena? And if it is for love, should the man be left to charm the girl, as is shown through most couplings, or should the girl have some responsibility also?
Should the parent decide and force their children into arranged marriages, as Hermia’s father almost had to? Or is it right to marry dynastically or politically, as Theseus and Hippolyta and presumably Titania and Oberon had to? All these are explored in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, without much clear indication as to which one is better. In the end, all couples appear happy however their marriage was brought about. The thing Shakespeare seems to be certain of is that marriage is about uniting forces and taming wild feelings.
The woodland section shows how wild the feelings are before marriage and the idea is that marriage corrects that. However, I am not sure if the indication is that your life is totally devoid of passion after marriage. The final scene, involving the fairies’ blessing Theseus and Hippolyta’s house, is perhaps an expression of feeling. Oberon’s opening line is, “Through the house give glimmering light” which, bearing in mind Oberon and Titania can be seen as equal to Theseus and Hippolyta, may be seen as an phrase meaning give the house some enjoyment and passion now they are united.
But this can only happen at night, showing marriage as least hides these irrational feelings under the surface. I think Shakepseare has tried very hard to fit some contrasting ideas into this play, such as the idea that women can be strong and dominant (represented by Hippolyta and Titania), quite a few hints that life could be better with no man rather than the wrong man and the hidden feelings his characters are forced to restrict during waking hours.
But by the end, he has disappointingly submitted to the traditional Elizabethan way of thinking about marriage and relationships, making Titania and Hippolyta settle down to do their ‘duty’ and the lovers all get together. This was probably due to the fact this play was probably performed to some important nobility at their wedding and they would be outraged at an alternative prevailing theme. The main messages of this play are clear and some of the idealistic theories about marriage which Shakespeare has used would be shared by his Elizabethan audience.
The male party would traditionally be dominant in a marriage, a view utilised by ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ many times and at many levels throughout. It is not only a man in a couple, who must be in charge, but in nature, there must be two parts united but one must be dominant. This is the way in which marriage is expressed in this play; it is thought of as a way to resolve disputes and bring harmony.