ENG220Y (Shakespeare): test key

Part A

Most of you did question 2: hereís an outline of some good points that were made.

As in part B, make sure that you link general conclusions to your interpretation of specific details in the passages.


-potions used by figures who are more likely to have control: males w/ supernatural connections

-though theyíre applied by figures who are the "tricky servants" of their plots: Puck and Friar Laurence

-Friarís failure reflects his humanity & its limits

-what are potions used to control?

-life/death (tampering with time, the tragic pastimeÖ);

-the antitheses in passages 5&6 underline the instability of life/death
-even less controllable love (more mysterious/irrational)

-passage 7 underlines dangerousness/mutability of love: flower colour changes from innocent white to bruised, wounded purple

-the reasons for using potions underlines

-social opposition to human desire -innate uncontrollability of human desire

-irrationality of human desire

-in MND, shows fickleness of (male!) desire

-potions associated with sleep (applied during sleep, induce a state like sleep)

-in both cases, underlines lack of awareness, control of the humans theyíre applied to

-imagery of darkness underlines mysteriousness, irrationality

-things going wrong also underlines

-even Cupid misses: underlines lack of understanding and awareness (the potions always do what theyíre intended to do, but there are things that the Friar and even Oberon donít know)

-Oberonís power to amend: underlines lack of human control even more

-the danger/pointlessness of interfering with higher processes

-ultimate success in MND

-result of fairy influence: itís a comedy, itís a fantasy

-mirrored in the nature of the potion?

-phallic, fertile "loveshaft" (of youthful, eternal Cupid) stressed in description of its creation

-doesnít mimic death like the R&J potion


-shows resolve of R&J

-emphasizes loversí fickleness in MND

-emphasizes Oberonís desire for/ability to control

-demonstrate limitations/aspirations of Friar, of human beings

Part B

If youíre asked to comment on a passage, make sure that you

-describe patterns in the (literal or figurative) language of the passage

-interpret those patterns

before linking your interpretation of particular patterns to more general issues.

Here are some samples from comments about #3 and #10:


-"once again Ö raises the issue of the ideal king": Warwick is "defending a good leader to a(nother) flawed leader"

-Halís behaviour explained as (a leaderís self-) education: "studies", "learnt"

-"Halís strategy further reinforces the theme that rules are actors, consciously constructing their personae"

-"in the perfectness of time" emphasizes the importance of good timing

-a few words with connotations of money or measurement suggest Halís calculation/control: "gain the language", "attained", "use", "measure", "mete"

-"it also raises the question, how emotionally detached must a monarch be"

-Halís association with the people will be useful both for his reputation and for motivating them in battle

-describing his association with the people as like learning a language emphasizes Halís connection with the peopleóvs. a usurperís alienation

-the fact that Warwick has to defend Henryís son to him emphasizes Henryís detachment from his son (and from his people): heís a usurper, and (as a usurper) lacks trust in others, even in his son

-Halís already made promises to his father about his behaviour: weíre as aware of Halís ability to keep promises as we are of his fatherís lack of trust in Hal

-the fact that Warwick, an obviously influential counsellor, seems to understand Hal creates a sense of optimism about his succession



-issues of security of kingship (does one inherit or merit rights?): Henry took the crown from an unfit king, worrying about similar disloyalty to an unfit prince now that succession isnít necessarily from father to son

-immediate context: civil war, though at this point Hotspur is fighting on Henryís side (unlike Hal!)

-the usurperís preoccupation with succession raised by his unfavourable contrast of Hal and Hotspur

-his feelings of guilt evinced by the odd word "sin"

-issues of legitimacy subtly raised by fantasy about child-exchanging

-his discomfort by his switching away from the topic back to war ("But let him from my thoughts")

-"good fatherhood" raised by the identification of Northumberland as "father to so blest a son"

-act 1 presents Falstaff and Henry IV as flawed fathers for Hal

-Henryís use of words like "dis/honour" make us think about what makes a king fit

-that itís the usurper Henry talking about "honour" makes us skeptical about it

-context: Halís "riot and dishonour" revealed to be false by the very next scene, 1.2: sets up good kingship as being able to craft an image, keep promises, strive for balance

-the fact that Henryís wrong about Hal foregrounds the distance between them, distance thatís useful for Hal if heís trying to craft a reputation

-this passage also demonstrates his fatherís preoccupation with reputation ("the theme of honourís tongue")


Part C

  1. Fluellen in Henry V
  2. Falstaff in 2 Henry IV
  3. Warwick in 2 Henry IV
  4. Canterbury in Henry V
  5. Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet
  6. Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet
  7. Oberon in A Midsummer Nightís Dream
  8. Henry IV in 2 Henry IV
  9. John of Gaunt in Richard II
  10. Henry IV in 1 Henry IV
  11. Henry V in Henry V