THE FAIRIES' QUARREL
Show how in this Act a new agency of a fairies' quarrel is devised and
Point out how this is made to crystallize in Oberon's scheme for
revenge on Titania, and also how, in the course of disentangling their
own love-snarl, it is made to develop the conflict between the crossed
lovers. This, it may be emphasized, is the second step in the
movement, as Hermia's and Helena's love was the first, and these two
main factors of the action are taken up together in this act.
Are the other two groups which were introduced in the first act, the
Duke's party and Bottom's set, interwoven with the new fairy group in
any way in this Act? See if the new fairy element now shows any
disposition in the person of Oberon to smooth out the difficulties of
Oberon's intentions, however, were one thing, and his deeds another.
Through Puck as his instrument, his jealousy at once begins to make
matters worse instead of better for the lovers. Notice the delicate
appropriateness of Oberon's means of influence, namely Puck and the
two flowers, the first being 'Cupid's flower,'--Love in idleness--the
second 'Dian's bud,' introduced later to correct the influence of the
first. The first flower assists in the development of a plot which is
to enact the 'momentariness' of 'sympathy in choice.' The
cross-purpose, fostered by Puck's mistake, seems to provide the
comparatively grosser sort of merriment for this Act which Bottom and
his friends supplied for the first; and the dainty humor and sprightly
novelty attending the introduction of the fairies on the scene, the
description of their quarrel, and the foreshadowing of the influence
they are to have on the next stages of the story, may be shown to
occupy the chief place in the plot at this period, the crossed lovers,
who predominated in the first Act, now falling into a relatively
POINTS 1. Robin Goodfellow and the traditions about him. 2. Fairies
and changelings. 3. The stories of Theseus's loves. 4. Explanation of
allusions to nine men's morris, old Hiems, etc. 5. Account of theories
as to meaning of references to the imperiall votresse, a little
westerne flower, a mearemaide on a dolphins backe, etc. Warburton
says the mermaid was meant for Mary Queen of Scots. N.H. Halpin thinks
that by Cynthia is meant Queen Elizabeth; by Tellus, Lady Douglas; by
the little 'western flower,' Lettice, wife of Walter, Earl of Essex,
while Cupid is Leicester. (See "First Folio Edition" for particulars).
Explain use of 'Lob,' II. i. 15; 'wodde,' 200. 7. 'The starres shot
madly from their Spheares,' i. 159. Look up Ptolemaic system of
astronomy for explanation of the idea. Compare "Merchant of Venice,"
i. 71-75, and notes on same in "First Folio Edition" of that play.
What is "Love in idleness"? (See Introduction to "First Folio
Edition" of "A Midsommer Nights Dreame" for references to this flower
in Chaucer's poem of "The Flower and the Leaf.") Compare "The Taming
of the Shrew," I. i. 156. 9. What are "Cankers" in the musk rosebuds?