Monday, 25 April 2016

Thorough Brush, Thorough Briar

John Greenop on The Fairies of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

“The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania” by Joseph Noel Paton

It didn’t take me long to decide on a topic relating to Shakespeare – I find the fairies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream incredibly fascinating. I remember playing the Sims 2 as a child. In the game there was a place called Veronaville, and in this town, the developers had placed Sims with the modern likeness of Shakespeare’s characters.

In one house we had Titania, Oberon, Puck, and Bottom. Titania and Oberon were the parents, Puck was portrayed as a red-haired teenager and Bottom was a tanned little girl. This got me interested in these fairies, and I have always like mythology and folklore. I shall, in a few words, discuss my feelings on the main fairies in the play.

First we have Titania, queen of the fairies. She is elegant, beautiful and stately. She represents the lush, fertile, aspect of nature. She is the fairy queen. Being the queen, she is accompanied by a procession of fairies who serve as her handmaids. They aren’t ugly, evil spirits of a warped nature that we sometimes find among the fairy folk, such as goblins and trolls. The fairies in her retinue are flower fairies and nymphs. One can just imagine the majestic procession in the mind’s eye.

Now we turn to Oberon, king of the fairies. Strong, stately, virile. He represents the masculine side of nature (even though he is a fairy!). Oberon originally comes from Norse, Anglo-Saxon mythology. I don’t feel he has the same presence as Titania in the play, but he is still king of the fairies!

Now we move onto the mischievous Puck, the fairy who just loves to play pranks and make mischief. He is my favourite character in the story. Puck can be correlated with mythical figures such as Pan, the god of mischief and shepherds in Greek mythology and his followers, the satyrs, who have little horns on their heads and cloven feet. They are half goat, half man, which is how I imagine Puck.

I can’t remember much about the play itself, so I can’t correlate these fairies to the events in the plot, but I will never forget my fascination with them.

John Greenop is a Humanities student at the Unversity of South Africa.


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