Character Foil

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a play by William Shakespeare, starts by Theseus, the duke of Athens, being introduced as the soon to be wedded man to Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. Later on, Oberon is introduced as the King of the Fairies. Although both of these characters do not directly interact with one another, Theseus and Oberon serve as character foils to one another. The two characters share comparable personalities with one another. However, the two have different responses in regards to similar situations. For the reason of such a drastic difference, this reveals to us Shakespeare’s point about Theseus and Oberon.

Theseus and Oberon have analogous personalities and traits. Both men are male leaders of a certain kingdom, like Theseus to his Athenians and Oberon to his fairies. They both have power over their people and are fit worthy to command. Theseus has the power over an army and Oberon has a mysterious right-hand man called Puck who does his every bidding. They are also shown as impatient men. Theseus describes his wedding day to be in “four happy days” (I. i. 2) is thinking “how slow this old moon wanes” (I. i. 3-4). He is very impatient and eager for the days to come. Oberon expresses his impatience when “I do but beg a little changeling boy” (II. i. 121). Since he is the king, him begging for something shows that he is impatient and probably wants it now. Although these two personalities are similar, the situations are totally different. Theseus is eager about his wedding day, a very joyous event, whereas Oberon is impatient because he wants something for himself, all to himself.

As well as they are similar, they are also very contrasting characters. Theseus is a very mature, wise person, whereas Oberon is more instinctive. Oberon knows what he wants, and pursues it irrespective of right and wrong. Theseus on the other hand, doesn’t concern himself with philosophy and higher thinking. Oberon also pretty has his own way...
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