In Act 2, Scene 1, Puck fetches a pansy (a.k.a. "Cupid's flower") so that Oberon can use its magic juice to make his victims fall head-over-heels in love. Here's how Oberon describes it:
The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees (2.1.170-172)
The stuff actually works and it wreaks havoc on several characters. After Oberon drops the love juice in sleeping Titania's eyes (2.2), the Fairy Queen wakes up and falls in love with an "ass" (3.1). Puck also squeezes the love potion in Lysander's eyes and, when he wakes up and sees Helena, Lysander forgets all about his girlfriend and becomes fixated on her instead. This goes on and on until Oberon and Puck take pity on their hapless victims and whip up an antidote, which is the "juice" of a different kind of flower – "Dian's bud" (2.1, 3.2, 4.1). The love juice is a lot like Love Potion Number 9.
Why does this matter? Well, the juice's fast-acting power seems to mimic what often happens in real life. As every hormone-driven teenager knows, love can be unpredictable and inexplicable. Falling in love often happens in an instant, without warning; falling out of love can happen just as fast. We talk about this more in "Themes."
Fate and Love in A Midsummer Night's Dream Essay
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Fate and Love in A Midsummer Night's Dream
There are many instances in A Midsummer Night's Dream where love is coerced from or foisted upon unwilling persons. This romantic bondage comes from both man-made edicts and the other-worldly enchantment of love potions. Tinkering with the natural progression of love has consequences. These human and fairy-led machinations, which are brought to light under the pale, watery moon, are an affront to nature. Shakespeare knows that all must be restored to its place under fate's thumb when the party of dreamers awaken.
Both the play's humans and fairies try to shape love into forms that are advantageous not to the lovers, but to the leaders. Egeus insists that…show more content…
But not every fairy is blind to the possibility that meddling might not be in the best interest of everyone.
Titania, before her bewitchment, warns Oberon that their own lovers' spat is causing havoc on earth. She speaks of "winds, piping to us in vain/As in revenge" (2.1 88, 90), of the moon, "pale in her anger" (104), and how the seasons "change/Their wonted liveries" (112-13). At first, Oberon cannot see beyond his jealousy of the little changeling Titania has adopted. He sets into motion fantastic spells that upend real love, mimicking the more serious complications wrought by human politics. Naturally, Titania's premonition bears fruit when Puck transforms Nick Bottom into an ass, and again when Lysander falls in love with Helena and forgets about Hermia. These turns of events eventually worry Oberon, too. He tells Puck to make sure to "lead these testy rivals so astray/As one come not within another's way" (3.2 358-59). He prescribes the potion to set things straight, calling the evening's pranks "a dream and fruitless vision," and declaring that with his corrective action, "all things shall be peace" (3.2 377).
By the play's finale, the grand and much-anticipated wedding for Theseus and Hippolyta, Bottom is rehumanized, Hermia and Helena are loved by the right men, and Titania and Oberon have settled their differences, rediscovering their own passion. Oberon is proved correct in