Adam Crespi, March 8th
Effort In Relationships
If you are dealt a bad hand while playing cards, do you complain and curse the world or do you try to make the best of your situation? When faced with an obstacle in any aspect of your life is it best to give up or to push through struggles? Are you willing to put in the work to make a relationship work and to make the other person happy, or are you more likely to bail at the first hiccup? In William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream there are many different relationships, not all of which run smoothly. By investigating the relationships that Oberon has with both Puck and Titania, we see that putting in effort to understand and work with your partner can really make the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.
Oberon’s relationship with his servant Puck is a prime example of how putting in the effort pays off for everyone. Puck lives to “jest to Oberon to make him smile” and will put in endless effort to make Oberon happy (2.1, 44). When asked to find an extremely rare flower, Puck does not hesitate and puts “a girdle round the earth in forty minutes” (2.1, 175-6). Puck will do anything to please Oberon and keep their relationship healthy. Even though he is doing most of the work, Puck is content as well. Working with the fairy king, Puck has countless opportunities for fun and mischievous doings he would never have had otherwise. How else would he be able to watch the fairy queen be “enamoured by an ass” (4.1, 75)? From Puck and Oberon’s relationship we can clearly see how making an effort positively affects both participants. Puck wants Oberon to be happy and a happy relationship is the strongest of them all.
In contrast, Oberon’s relationship with his wife Titania is a great example of what happens when the effort isn’t made to understand the other person and take care of their happiness. In William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon and Titania disagree over what to do about a small changeling boy whose mother has passed away. Rather than seeking to understand his wife’s desire to keep the child and honour her choice, Oberon becomes angry that he cannot have the boy as a henchman and seeks to “torment thee (Titania) for this injury” (2.1, 47). Instead of letting Titania keep the boy she plans to rear and “not part with”(2.1, 137), Oberon decides that his own desire to have a henchman is more important. He later mortifies Titania out of spite by manipulating her into sleeping with an ass. Oberon’s selfishness is an obvious sign of an unhealthy relationship. Rather than putting in any effort to work with Titania, Oberon blows off her opinion as unimportant and says “Why should Titania cross her Oberon?” thinking only of himself (2.1, 119). He puts no effort into even thinking of why the changeling boy could be special to Titania. Oberon doesn’t care and out of pure selfishness decides that Titania must be punished for following through with a promise. The relationship between Oberon and Titania is the opposite of a caring one where participants just want the other person to be happy.
By comparing these two relationships in William Shakespeare’s a Midsummer’s Nights Dream we can observe how important it is to put in your best effort. From Oberon’s relationships with Puck and Titania, we see how effort can create an amazing relationship that benefits both people, or a lack of effort can cause isolation and toxicity. Even if it may not have immediate payoff, effort strengthens every kind of bond in a relationship. When Puck travels the world for a single flower he doesn’t get immediately rewarded. His reward comes later as laughter and fun with Oberon. When you run into an obstacle in your life, you fight through it to get the better hand. Just like Puck and Oberon do so well, find a relationship where you both put in effort to make eachother happy.