A Midsummer Night's Dream By William Shakespeare Character Analysis Oberon

The King of the Fairies, Oberon's personality has two sides. On the one hand, he ensures that the proper lovers end up together by the end of the play. He sympathizes with the sorely abused Helena and causes Demetrius to fall madly in love with her. As a benevolent ruler of the spirit world, he also brings blessing of peace and health to the future families of the newlyweds. But his personality is not all kindness; Oberon shows a more malicious side in his dealings with Titania.

Their initial interaction in the play begins with a fight. The dual has been brought about by Titania's possession of an Indian boy. While Titania appears to be legitimately raising this child, the only son of one of her votresses who died in childbirth, Oberon has decided he wants the boy as a servant. Why? Shakespeare never tells us. Perhaps Oberon wants to prove his male authority over Titania; perhaps he feels Titania is overindulging the boy and would like to bring discipline into his life. Any explanation the audience comes up with must be based in conjecture, because Shakespeare does not explain Oberon's motivation. No explanation, though, would seem to justify the cruelty Oberon uses in winning the boy away from Titania. Oberon casts a spell upon her, a trick that leaves her in love with Bottom, the ass. Many critics recognize Oberon's kindness in releasing her from this spell as soon as he has gotten what he wanted from her — the boy — but his treachery must still be acknowledged.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

The play opens with the upcoming marriage of which couple?




Quiz