Oberon and Puck's Flower Plot

Act 2 Scene 1 – Key Scene

In this scene, Oberon decides to play a trick on Titania by putting a love potion on her eyes that will make her fall in love with the first living thing she sees after waking. Here, he describes Titania’s location to Puck before asking him to find Demetrius.

Take a look at an extract from this scene and watch it in performance here. Using the following steps, remember to look at it line by line and if you’re looking at the scene for the first time don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at once.

  • Look
    Take a look at the scene. Who has the most lines? Are they using prose or verse? Actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in black), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.
    I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
    Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
    Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
    With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
    There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
    Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight:
    And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes,
    And make her full of hateful fantasies.
    (Gives him some juice) Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove;
    A sweet Athenian lady is in love
    With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes,
    But do it when the next thing he espies
    May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man
    By the Athenian garments he hath on.
    Effect it with some care, that he may prove
    More fond on her than she upon her love;
    And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.

    Look at the language and detail that Oberon uses to describe the place where Titania sleeps. Is the picture a positive or a negative one? What does this suggest about his feelings towards Titania?

    Why do you think Oberon decides to ‘streak her eyes’ with the juice of the flower? How does he feel about the plan and why do you think that?

    A nightmare.

    Someone from Athens.

    Showing a lack of respect.

    Compare the way in which Oberon talks about his two plans. He plans to ‘streak’ Titania’s eyes, but ‘anoint’ Demetrius’. What does this tell us about Oberon’s opinion of Demetrius, and of Helena? Why has he decided to help Helena and what does this tell us about his character?

    Do it carefully so he loves her more than she loves him.

    Fear not, my lord, your servant shall do so.
    (Text edited for rehearsals by Erica Whyman)
  • Listen
    Read the scene aloud. Are there any words or lines that really stand out?
  • Watch
    Take a look at the actors performing this scene. How do the characters come across in this version?
  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for the scene feel right to you?