The Fairies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare’s fairies are international, minute, and associated with witches. Some surprising connections in Professor David Fuller’s post on the Between Worlds exhibition blog.

Between Worlds

By Professor David Fuller, Emeritus Professor of English at Durham University


Foreword

Fairies appear as characters in several of Shakespeare’s plays, most notably the comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In this post, Professor David Fuller from the Department of English Studies at Durham University explores the role these fairies fulfil and their relationship to other characters from English folklore.

David Wright, Assistant Curator at Palace Green Library


Are Shakespeare’s fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream English or international, small or large, charming or sinister? They are, it seems, all of these.

They are international. Both Oberon, the fairy king, and Titania, his queen, are associated with India, from where, when the play begins, Oberon has just arrived. Titania, like a goddess, appears to have a cult there with priestesses – one of whom was the mother of a boy over whose possession the couple quarrel. But India is only one…

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