Enchantment in Love

Shakespeare uses the device of a love potion, dropped in the eyes of characters whilst they sleep, to demonstrate the consequences of unnatural love, ungoverned by reason - pairings are ruptured, extreme emotions are stirred, and order is turned upside down. The perpetrator of the mischief is Oberon, who, with Puck, amuses himself by upsetting the order of relationships in order to gain revenge on his ex lover, Titania.

Titania is first to fall under the spell. Having been bewitched by Oberon, she is woken by the sound of Bottom singing, and immediately falls in love with him (Act III, scene 1) Her humiliation is total - she has fallen for an animal. For Director Gale Edwards, this episode offers us an opportunity to explore the darker side of human nature - impulses towards bestiality, and lust.

The bewitchment of Demetrius and Lysander serves to further the plot, and to offer many moments of comedy. Their infatuation, as Titania's, is instant and total. All thoughts of his sweetheart Hermia are wiped from Lysander's head as he pursues Helena (Act II, scene 2), and Demetrius jumps from loathing Helena to pursuing her (Act II, scene 2).

The end of the play sees the magic lifted from people's eyes - Hermia and Lysander are reunited, their love finally gaining the approval of her father, Egeus; Titania and Oberon are reconciled. Demetrius, however, remains enchanted, but gains true love as a consequence. Shakespeare's argument is that love based upon enchantment is unsustainable, except where that enchantment serves to reveal true feelings.

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