English Literature Descriptive Questions and Answers – 02

Q11. Which work is considered as inspiration for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”?

Answer : The Golden Ass by APULEIUS translated by William Adlington, a probable inspiration for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a possible minor source for Cymbeline. Adlington published his translation—from a French translation of Apuleius’ 2nd-century A.D. Latin—in 1566, and his book was popular, being reprinted in 1571, 1582, and 1596. Little is known about Adlington’s life beyond an apparent association with Oxford University.

Q12. Which company was the employer of young Shakespeare?

Answer : Admiral’s Men was the acting company of the ELIZABETHAN THEATRE, possible employer of the young Shakespeare and later the chief rivals of his CHAMBERLAIN’S MEN. The company was originally organised in 1576 as Lord Howard’s Men, under the patronage of Charles HOWARD, later Lord High Admiral of England. After touring the provinces for several years, they are first recorded in LONDON—as the Admiral’s Men—in 1585, when the great actor Edward ALLEYN joined the troupe and became its leader. The company quickly established itself as a rival to the QUEEN’S MEN in the London theatre world. They were especially famed for their presentations of the grandiose tragedies of Christopher MARLOWE.

Q13. Which character was a follower of King Alonso of Naples?

Answer : Adrian, a minor character in The Tempest, a follower of King ALONSO of Naples. Adrian hardly speaks; in 2.1 he briefly supports GONZALO in his optimism, which is mocked by ANTONIO and SEBASTIAN, and in 3.3 he speaks only half a line, closing the scene. Adrian, with FRANCISCO, has been seen by some scholars as evidence for the existence of an earlier version of The Tempest, in which his role was more substantial, for there seems no reason to include him in the play as it stands. He may have been intended for scenes that Shakespeare originally planned but then discarded in the course of composition. In any case, minor attendants help establish the high status of royal figures throughout Shakespeare’s plays, and Adrian has this function for Alonso; moreover, his reiteration of Gonzalo’s position focuses attention on it and helps maintain our sense of good’s survival among villains.

Q14. Describe the jealous wife of Antipholus of Ephesus?

Answer : Adriana is a character in The Comedy of Errors, the jealous but loving wife of ANTIPHOLUS OF EPHESUS. Adriana first appears in 2.1, complaining that Antipholus is
late for lunch. She argues with her sister, LUCIANA, about the proper obedience owed a husband, in a standard disputation on marital relations that was common in Shakespeare’s day. While Luciana adopts the position that a man is rightly the master of his wife, Adriana asserts, ‘There’s none but asses will be bridled so‘ (2.1.14). Later in the scene, she bemoans her husband’s attentions to other women, and jealousy is
her characteristic trait throughout the play, finally triggering a humorous but acid sermonette by the Abbess, EMILIA, in the final scene (5.1.69-86).

Q15. Which character delivers messages between Saturninus and Lucius?

Answer : Aemilius, a minor character in Titus Andronicus. Aemilius delivers messages between SATURNINUS and LUCIUS and helps acclaim Lucius the new Emperor at the end of the play.

Q16. Who serves as an herald, carrying the challenge of Hector?

Answer : Aeneas, a legendary figure and character in Troilus and Cressida, a leader of the Trojan forces in the TROJAN WAR. Aeneas serves as an herald, carrying the challenge of HECTOR in 1.3, accompanying the visiting Greek delegation led by DIOMEDES in 4.1-4, carrying a warning of their arrival to TROILUS in 4.2, and announcing Hector’s arrival for his duel with AJAX in 4.5. Aeneas represents the Trojan concern for chivalric honour: he is a stiffly correct model of knightly manners. His exchange with Diomedes in 4.1 of courteous declarations of intent to kill is a bleakly humorous picture of mindless warriors who can reduce the horrors of war to an exercise in etiquette.

In the Iliad of HOMER, Aeneas is a more important figure; he is a cousin of King PRIAM who is notably favoured by the gods. The sea-god Poseidon predicts that Aeneas shall be a ruler someday. Later tradition developed this forecast into Aeneas’ leadership of the Trojan exiles who wandered the Mediterranean world after the fall of their city, and VIRGIL’S Aeneid makes him the founder of Rome. Shakespeare and his contemporaries saw Aeneas as an ancestor figure because his great-grandson Brut was thought to have settled England and founded London as New Troy. This is reflected in the anti-Greek bias of the play.

Q17. Who is Agamemnon ?

Answer : Agamemnon Legendary figure and character in Troilus and Cressida, the leader of the Greek forces in the TROJAN WAR. Although ULYSSES calls him ‘Thou great commander, nerves and bone of Greece’ (1.3.55), Agamemnon is in fact an ineffectual leader. He preaches ponderously, but ACHILLES can safely ignore his orders; the Greek forces are accordingly stymied in their siege of TROY. Much of what Ulysses calls the absence of’degree’ (1.3.83, 101, 109, etc.)—a dissolution of the hierarchy on which Greek society has been based—can be attributed to Agamemnon’s recurrent weakness. At the play’s close, Agamemnon still lacks authority; in the last line spoken by a Greek, he sends a messenger to request submissively the presence of Achilles, just as he has had to do all along.

The Agamemnon of classical myth and legend probably derives from a historical king who ruled in the Argive, a region of Greece near Corinth, during the Bronze Age. His post as commander of the Greek forces at Troy is recorded in the Iliad of HOMER, as are his lack of resolve and his inability to control Achilles. Homer’s Odyssey and later plays by Greek dramatists continued his tale after the war: upon his return home, he is killed by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover. This murder impels Orestes, his son, to kill his mother in revenge. This event and Orestes’ subsequent torment by supernatural spirits constitute the Oresteia, the subject of works by all the major Greek dramatists and many other writers, into modern times.

Q18. How many plays are included in “An Age of Kings”?

Answer : An Age of Kings, British Broadcasting Company production (1960) of Shakespeare’s two tetralogies of HISTORY PLAYS. These eight works, which depict a continuous period from 1399 to 1485, were presented in 15 parts. This extraordinary production, which has been called ‘the first mini-series’, offered a fresh point of view on several stories and characters. For instance, such episodes as the fall of Humphrey, Duke of GLOUCESTER, are lent greater coherence by being isolated from their surroundings, and certain characters—notably Queen MARGARET, the Duke of YORK, and PRINCE HAL, who becomes HENRY V—demonstrate their growth as individuals over the several plays in which they appear.

Q19. “Agincourt” town is part of which Shakespearean play?

Answer : A town in northern FRANCE, battle site in the HUNDRED YEARS WAR and location for Act 4 of Henry V. The battle of Agincourt provides the climax of Henry V and of the second TETRALOGY of Shakespeare’s HISTORY PLAYS. The English army, led by King HENRY v, wins an impressive victory over a much larger French force. Henry attributes the triumph to divine intervention in favour of the English. Soundly defeated, FRANCE signs, in 5.2, a treaty granting Henry the inheritance of the French crown, as well as marriage to the FRENCH KING’S daughter, KATHARINE. England thus achieves a glorious ascendancy over its traditional enemy.

Q20. M. Vipsanius Agrippa is a character of which play ?

Answer : A historical figure and character in Antony and Cleopatra, a follower of Octavius CAESAR. In 2.2 Agrippa displays considerable influence when he suggests the marriage between ANTONY and OCTAVIA, and in 4.6 and 4.7 he is in command of Caesar’s army. For much of the remainder of the play he serves as an opposite to Antony’s ENOBARBUS, with whom he exchanges remarks on the principal characters; he displays the demeanour of a gruff veteran soldier.

Shakespeare’s character does not reflect the importance of the historical Agrippa, who was probably the most important figure—after Caesar himself—in the defeat of Antony and the subsequent establishment of the Roman Empire. Along with MAECENAS, he was one of Caesar’s few close friends and advisers.


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