Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Shakespeare Quiz

Here's how this Shakespeare quiz works. The questions contain two facts and one falsehood, or two correctly quoted lines and one incorrectly quoted line, or several falsehoods and one fact. You get the answer right if you identify the falsehood or the incorrectly quoted line or, in one case, the fact. You get extra points if you can not only identify the incorrectly quoted line, but can quote the line correctly. You'll have to quote it to yourself, though. The drawback is that you have to score your own test and you get no reward beyond the satisfaction of knowing more than most other people do about Shakespeare. That should be enough, though. It is for me.

The answers are at the bottom. Don't peek.

1. Which line is not correctly quoted from Shakespeare's text?
a. "For his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a Table of green fields."
b. ". . . of one whose hand, like the base Judean, threw a pearl away richer than all his tribe."
c. "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well."

2. Which "fact" truly is a fact?
a. Most of Shakespeare's sonnets were written to someone we know as the Dark Lady.
b. Shakespeare wouldn't understand Facebook because he never uses the word "friend" as a verb.
c. Measure for Measure is an Elizabethan play.
d. Shakespeare's son's godfather was named Hamnet.

3. Which line is not correctly quoted from Shakespeare's text?
a. "Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!"
b. "Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love."
c. "The world's mine oyster."

4. For this question, read the line and then choose the correct response. "Men must endure their going hence even as their coming hither. Ripeness is all."
a. The above line comes from Julius Caesar.
b. The above line comes from King Lear. 
c. The above line comes from Hamlet.

5. Which "fact" is not a fact?
a.  Shakespeare's patron was Queen Elizabeth.
b.  Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare collaborated on one play.
c.  Shakespeare murdered Christopher Marlowe to prevent him from writing a play about Richard III.

6. Which line is not correctly quoted from Shakespeare's text?
a. "We are such stuff as dreams are made on."
b. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
c. "The better part of valor is discretion."

7. Which "fact" is not a fact?
a. Shakespeare was a member of the Protestant Church of England.
b. Shakespeare was known to his friends as a Catholic.
c. Shakespeare's company was required to defend itself in court, in an inquiry into whether the actors had supported the rebellious action of the Earl of Essex.

8. Which line is not quoted correctly from Shakespeare's text?
a. "Cry, 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'"
b. "Coral is not more red than her lips' red."
c. "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."

9. Which "fact" is not a fact?
a. Shakespeare cut his wife out of his will.
b. The only four-footed animal that appeared on Shakespeare's stage was a dog.
c. Four-footed animals that appeared on Shakespeare's stage included a dog and a bear.

10.  Which line is not quoted correctly from Shakespeare's text?
a. "A pox on both your houses!"
b. "There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will."
c. "I have immortal longings in me."

ANSWERS (and explanations):

1. c. The correct line is, "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio." True, "a"'s "Table of green fields" makes no sense, but it is the original line. A later editor amended it to the more familiar "babbled of green fields." (It describes Falstaff's behavior while dying.) As for "c," two authentic versions of this line from Othello exist. One says "base Judaean," the other says "base Indian." Both are racist. And to complicate matters, it's black man speaking. Or a white actor in blackface, which is even odder.
2. d. Both the son and the godfather were named Hamnet. As for the sonnets, most of them were written to a guy. As for Facebook: Shakespeare would not have understood Facebook, but not for the reason stated. He does in fact use "friend" as a verb a couple of times, including in King Lear, when Lear insults Cordelia by calling her "unfriended." OK, that's an adjective, but he uses "friend" as a verb in Henry V ("Disorder, that hath spoiled us, friend us now!").
3. a. This misquoted line of King Lear's is close to being correct, but it has a few too many "Kill!"s in it.
4. b. The line is from King Lear. 
5. a. Queen Elizabeth was never Shakespeare's patron, though King James was (or, in any case, was the patron of his acting company). "Wait!," you might argue. "Neither did Shakespeare kill Christopher Marlowe." Well -- maybe not. But can you prove it?
6. a. I get mixed up quoting this one myself, but it's actually "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
7. b. If Shakespeare was a Catholic, he kept it a right good secret.
8. b. The correct line, from Sonnet 130, is "Coral is far more red than her lips' red."
9. c. A real dog is given a part in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Perhaps I can't prove that Shakespeare didn't also bring a real bear on stage in act 3 of The Winter's Tale. But since to do so would have been crazy, and he wasn't, I'm pretty confident he used a guy in a bear suit.
10. a. The correct line, said by the dying Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, is "A plague a' both  your houses!"


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