Oberon's Hidden Characteristics: An Essay On A Midsummer Night's Dream

January 13, 2009
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Oberon and Queen Titania are fighting throughout the first half of the play. This quarrel between the two makes the reader question Oberon’s motives. He later redeems himself with his good deeds which persuades the reader to overlook his previous behavior towards his wife. He shows his soft side when he interferes with Demetrius and Helena, corrects the mistakes Puck has made, and blesses all the newly married couples.
The fight between Oberon and Titania concerning the Indian boy is primarily a power struggle. When the reader first meets them, Oberon calls Titania a name and makes a sexist comment. “Tarry, rash wanton. Am not I thy lord?” This remark only fuels Titania’s anger, because he is telling her that she has to obey him just because he is her husband. When Titania tells the story of how she became the caretaker of this Indian boy, it compels the reader to side with her. The reader’s opinion does not change when Oberon presents a weak argument saying he needs the boy to be one of his henchmen. This whole situation presents Oberon as a selfish and insensitive man.
Oberon shows the reader one of his better qualities when he witnesses Demetrius treating Helena worse than a dog. Helena says, “What worser place can I beg in your love— and yet a place with high respect of me— then to be used as your dog?” Demetrius replies, “I am sick when I do look on thee.” After the way Demetrius speaks to Helena, both the reader and Oberon are convinced Demetrius is crazy for not loving a woman who dotes on him as she does. Oberon instructs Puck to go and pick a flower hit by Cupid’s arrow and rub the eyes of Demetrius with its potent juices. Oberon shows passion and sensitivity when he makes this decision.
Oberon also shows he can clean up the messes he has made. He was ignorant to the fact that there was another Athenian man running about the forest when he described Demetrius to Puck. When Puck mistakenly put the flower’s juices on Lysander’s eyes, chaos broke out through the forest. Suddenly two women were yelling, and two men were about to become violent over one of the women. Oberon knew his plan to fix a relationship had only made a mess of another. A deus ex machina fixed Oberon’s problem. Luckily, there were more magical flowers. All he had to do was figure out which man went to which woman.
“So shall all the couples three ever true in loving be, and the blots of Nature’s hand shall not in their issue stand.” This is what Oberon recites as he, Titania, and the rest of the fairies bless all three couples on their wedding night. This shows that Oberon believes in love and wishes good fortune on others, instead of keeping it all for himself.
Originally, Oberon comes off to the reader as self-centered and inconsiderate. He is unwilling to let things go. As the play progresses, the reader realizes this mentality is actually crucial to the rest of the play. If he would have just let Demetrius and Helena go on their merry way, Demetrius would still be chasing after Hermia, and she and Lysander would still be running from Egeus and the harsh Athenian Laws. The reader sympathizes with Oberon by the end of the play because the way he acted towards his wife is hidden underneath his dedication to mending the relationships of the Athenian couples, which is clearly a selfless act.

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