The Melodic Tune in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream
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Oberon, King of the fairies, has the honor of delivering lines 32 through 52 (5.2) known as “The Song” (244n4) in Stephen Greenblatts publication in The Norton Shakespeare of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Although Oberon was not always given these lines, the speech that it forms is quite becoming of the character and fits his place, both in society and the story. This speech gives Oberon a chance to make amends for the mischief he has created, by blessing them and their marital beds. The song lulls the audience into a slight slumber like state where Puck will give the final speech stating that this was all a dream. The melodic tune of rhyming couplets does not flow as easily for Oberon as does prose, creating a general lack of figures of speech.
The song is straight forward with its intentions, and does not have much figurative language. The most frequently used figurative language in this speech has been anastrophe, found in lines 33-35, 38, 43-44 (5.2). Some uses of anastrophe encompass a couplet such as “despised in nativity/ Shall upon their children be” (5.2.43-44) while others are short such as “ever true in loving be” (5.2.38). Other forms can be found in the repetition of the word issue (5.2.35) creating a polyptoton. Issue’s first instance was describing a child, an issue created in the marital bed. The second case of issue was referring to an actual problem. Repetition can also be found with the word “bless” in lines 47 and 49 of act 5 scene 2. Line 33 uses alliteration of the letter B with “best bride bed” (5.2). Most of the rhymes are masculine end rhymes, however the song contains 3 feminine rhymes with the words fortunate (5.2.36), nativity (5.2.43) and consecrate (5.2.45).
The mischief caused in this play was not di...
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... or be a mischief maker and was so happy he wants to sing and bless everything around him. Oberon created mischief out of emotional distress from his wife Titania, but now that they are reconciled feels the urge to bless everything and make all peaceful and loving. Oberon’s influence on the humans was balance based, and now that things are back in order, actions must be taken to right the wrongs. The singing of a song would be unusual for a King, whether or not he was from the fairy world, however as a character this speech works nicely with that of Oberon, and gives the audience closure on the fairy plot world as well as the others in the palace.
Greenblatt, Stephen, et al., ed. The Norton Shakespeare. New York: Norton, 2009. Print.
--“A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Greenblatt 189-198
Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Greenblatt 199-246