Study Guide

Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Titania is Queen of the Fairies, wife of Oberon, and a force to be reckoned with in the world of magic. When we first meet Titania, she's a gracious queen (inviting Oberon to dance), but she's still sassy. She sticks by her guns and refuses to give up the little Indian boy she's raising, thus protecting her love and honor. We learn that Titania worries about the natural order, which has been upset by her and Oberon's quarrel. Rather than compromise herself, she tells Oberon he should take it easy already with his demands for the little boy.

Titania has distinct parallels with Hippolyta, another queen who was subdued by an over-eager suitor. The Titania we know disappears when she becomes the fawning creature in love with Bottom. Though Titania is arguably the most powerful woman in the play, she, like all the other women, is subject to the machinations of men. (Men are responsible for the conquering of Hippolyta, for Helena's despair, and for Hermia's rage.) Still, Titania's not quite a commentary on the nature of women, as she's the only woman in the play who is actually enchanted (so her madness is kind of excused). However, once Oberon releases Titania from the spell, she doesn't exactly light into Oberon for his horrible treatment of her.

Titania isn't exactly a model feminist, or even an emblem of feminine oppression, but she is another interesting case study if you want to look at romantic relationships. Despite her marriage to Oberon, and the fact that they kind of share the whole ruling-the-fairy-kingdom gig, they spend quite a bit of time apart and have several non-spouse overnight guests during the process. What's interesting is that this doesn't seem to really bother either them that much. Oberon even goes so far as to trick his wife into doting on another creature.

Now, you could make yourself feel better by arguing that the fairy world is simply different than the human world. Quite frankly, though, that would be a cop-out. It would also mean you're ignoring all the fairy-human parallels that Shakespeare set up in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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