English Literature / Drama GCSE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Act 2, Scene 1 - The Fairies

The King and Queen of the fairies meet for the first time.

Titania tells Oberon that their argument over her changeling boy is having a disastrous impact on the natural world.

This short film is from the BBC series, Shakespeare Unlocked.

Teacher Notes

This is a highly charged scene which illustrates the complex relationship between Oberon and Titania.

This short film might provide opportunity for discussion on the status of each of the two characters and invite comparison with the relationships between other couples in the play.

Before watching the scene, ask your students to read out loud the first four lines of the scene in pairs with one reading Oberon's lines, the other Titania's.

Ask them to write down what Oberon says about Titania (for example, proud, rash), then what Titania says about Oberon (jealous, foresworn his bed).

Still in pairs, ask students to jot down initial ideas about this couple:

  • What have they learned about them?
  • Who might they be?
  • How long have they known each other?
  • Is this the first time they've argued or do they regularly behave like this?

Ask your students to share their ideas with the rest of the class.

After watching the scene, ask students to read out loud the exchange between Titania and Oberon from “Why are thou here... “ to “Knowing I know thy love to Theseus”.

Ask students to brainstorm what they learn from this exchange about Titania and Oberon and their respective relationships with Theseus and Hippolyta, the royal couple at court.

Discuss with them the way the hierarchy of the court is mirrored in the hierarchy of the fairy kingdom.

Is the fairy world a place where characters can be much freer in terms of what they say and do?

How does the text suggest the greater freedoms that Titania and Oberon enjoy?

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE English literature and drama in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/ 5 in Scotland.

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