Oberon and Titania Character Profiles

A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream. Phillip Dvorak/Getty Images

The Oberon and Titania characters play an important role in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Here, we take an in-depth look at each and understand what makes them tick as a couple.

Oberon

Oberon is angry with Titania as she is spending all her time with a changeling boy and will not give him over to Oberon to be used as a henchman. He could be considered to be quite spiteful in exacting his revenge upon her.

“Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this grove Till I torment thee for this injury” (Act 2 Scene 1, Line 146-147). Titania accuses Oberon of being jealous “These are the forgeries of jealously” (Act 2 Scene 1, Line 81).

Oberon is powerful but Titania appears to be just as headstrong and they seem equally matched. We know they have had a good relationship up until now as he and Titania would; “dance our ringlets to the whistling wind” (Act 2 Scene 1 Line 86).

Oberon asks Puck to get the juice from a herb he once showed him and anoint the eyes of Titania with it so that she falls in love with something ridiculous. Oberon is clearly angry with his queen for disobeying him and exacts a kind of revenge but it is quite harmless and humorous in its intent. He clearly loves her and just wants to have her all to himself again.

Consequently, Titania falls in love with Bottom with an Ass’ head stuck on his.

Oberon eventually feels guilty about this and reverses the magic which demonstrates his mercy; “Her dotage now I do begin to pity” (Act 3 Scene 3, Line 46)

Oberon also shows compassion when he sees Helena being scorned by Demetrius and orders Puck to anoint his eyes with the potion so that Helena can be loved; “A sweet Athenian lady is in love with a disdainful youth.

Anoint his eyes; But do it when the next thing he espies May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man by the Athenian garments he hath on. Effect it with some care, that he may prove more fond of her than she upon her love” (Act 2 Scene 1, Line 261-266).

Unfortunately Puck get things wrong but Oberon’s intentions are good and he is ultimately responsible for everyone’s happiness at the end of the play.

Titania

Titania is principled and strong enough to stand up to her husband (in a similar way to Hermia standing up to Egeus). She has made a promise to look after the little Indian boy and doesn’t want to break it. “Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies away. We shall chide downright if I longer stay” (Act 1 Scene 2, Line 144-145).

Unfortunately, Titania is made to look foolish by her jealous husband and is made to fall in love with the ridiculous Bottom with an ass’ head. “Thou art wise as thou art beautiful” (Act 3 Scene 1, Line 140). She is very attentive to Bottom and proves herself to be a kind and forgiving lover:

Be kind and courteous to this gentleman. Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes. Feed him with apricots and dewberries, with purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries; The honeybags steal from the humble bees, And for night tapers crop their waxen thighs and light them at the fiery glow worms’ eyes To have my love to bed, and to arise; And pluck the wings from painted butterflies To fan moonbeams from his sleeping eyes. Nod to him, elves and do him courtesies.
(Act 3 Scene 1, Line 156-166)

As Titania is intoxicated with the love potion she gives the changeling boy to Oberon and he gets his way. He then takes pity on her and undoes the magic.

Oberon and Titania are the only couple in the play who have been married for a while. The other couples are just starting out with all the passion and excitement a new relationship brings. Oberon and Titania represent an older more weathered relationship, they have possibly taken each other for granted and when the love potion is removed and Titania realises that she has been doting and fawning over an ass she is made to realise that perhaps she has neglected her husband somewhat and this will renew their passion? “Now thou and I are new in amity” (Act 4 Scene 1, Line 86).