Sunday, 12 June 2016

BSc BA English Notes One Act Play Smokescreens (Harold Brighouse) Summary Reference Context and Question Answers

BSc BA English Notes One Act Play Smokescreens (Harold Brighouse) Summary Reference Context and Question Answers


Summary

The play “Smokescreens” has at least three basic ideas or themes. The first theme is that every character in the play has a duel personality. They hide their real personality behind smokescreens. The second theme is the bad effects of broken families on children. The third theme is the generation gap.
Susan has come to London to see her sister Lucy. Primrose is her niece and very modern. She goes to nightclubs late at night. She smokes cigarettes and wears lipstick.
Susan is conservative and does not like this. She hides her bag so that she may not go out. Actually, she wants to have a talk with her. Primrose needs her handbag because there are cigarettes and lipstick in it. Then she comes to know that her Aunt Susan has her handbag. She takes her handbag and leaves.
Susan objects that Lucy has not disciplined her daughter but Lucy defends herself. They exchange their views as how children should be brought up.
Lucy is a self-made woman. She has divorced her husband, because he is unfaithful. She starts a business of taxicabs. She gives all her time to her business and ignores her daughter. Primrose is against her mother because of that. She does not like her mother’s views on the institution of marriage. She sends her friend Clarice to tell her mother and aunt that she is going to marry John. John is Clarice’s brother and is very ugly.
Clarice tells Lucy and Susan about her ugly brother in detail. Later Primrose also comes there and breaks the news of her marriage. Her mother is shocked but hides her feelings. Primrose and Lucy have a talk and then Primrose leaves telling her that John is waiting in the dining room.


Reference

These lines have been taken from the play “Smoke Screens” written by Harold Brighouse.
 

Context

The play is a serious social comedy. Its story is a three-sided conflict. Primrose, the young heroine is a modern girl. Her mother, Lucy Aston, is a liberal lady divorced by her charming husband. Susan, her aunt, is a conservative. Lucy does not like to interfere with her daughter‟s affairs. Susan tries to warn her against the dangers faced by Primrose. Primrose wants to marry a footballer, John. Her mother and Susan are astonished.Susan leaves the house in disgust. Her mother decides to let her marry. But she says she will keep a vigilant watch over her daughter‟s husband through the smoke screen of her taxi car business. She does not like to lose her daughter. But she is quite helpless.

Q. What are the basic ideas or themes of the play “Smokescreens”.
Ans.
The play “Smokescreens” has at least three basic ideas or themes. The first theme is that all the characters in the play have duel personalities. They hide their real personalities behind smokescreens. The second theme is the bad effects of broken families on children. The third theme is the generation gap.
When we read the play carefully, we see that all the three main characters hide themselves behind smokescreens. They pretend what they are not. Primrose pretends to be a rude and spoiled girl. However, later in the story she begs her aunt’s forgiveness and tells her that she does so only to avoid conversation. She tells her aunt that she behaves just like a cuttlefish that squirts out a flood of ink to hide it from attack.
Aunt Susan pretends to have the Victorian morality. However, surprisingly she tells a lie about her headache just to stop Primrose from going out. Lucy pretends that she does not have any care or love for her daughter, but actually, she is a loving and caring mother.  The writer shows her love for her daughter at the end of the play.
The second theme is that a broken family has very bad effects n children. They are spoiled. They are rude and disrespectful to their elders and do what they like. They are confused and do such things as are not good for them.
The third theme is the generation gap. The writer has depicted the generation gap very successfully. The old generation is hard and harsh towards the young generation and has the Victorian morality. However, the young generation is rude. The people of this generation want to live according to the demands of their society.

Q. Bring out the conflict between Primrose and Aunt Susan or generation gap in the play.
Ans.
The conflict between Primrose and Aunt Susan is that Aunt Susan wants Primrose not to go out at night, whereas Primrose is not ready to listen to her. Actually, they have conflict because of the generation gap.
Aunt Susan has come to London to see her sister. She is 50 and believes in the Victorian morality. She is conservative and believes that children should be treated very harshly. They should be spanked to teach discipline. She also believes that parents should use power of the purse to prevent children from doing undesirable things. Therefore, she decides to talk to Primrose rather harshly. That is why she hides to talk to Primrose’s handbag just to stop her from going out and to talk to her.
Primrose is a representative of the young generation. She wants to do what she likes. She wants to go out wearing lipstick and smoking cigarettes. She is not ready to listen to her aunt and she behaves rudely to her. She wants to live own life. She is not ready to be dictated by the old generation.
Therefore, this is the conflict between Primrose and Aunt Susan. Actually, it is a conflict between the old and the young generation.

Q. Bring out the conflict between Lucy and Susan.
Ans.
The conflict between Aunt Susan and Lucy is that Aunt Susan thinks that Lucy spoiled Primrose. She has not brought her up according to the Victorian morality. She has spoiled her by telling wrong things about her father. However, Lucy defends herself and says that what she did was right.
Aunt Susan believes in the Victorian morality. She is conservative and believes that children should be treated very harshly and they should be spanked to teach discipline. She also believes that parents should use power of the purse to prevent children from doing undesirable things.
Lucy represents old but liberal minded generation and does not believe in the Victorian morality. The people of this generation believe: “Give our children a better time than we had ourselves.” Therefore, the people like Lucy do not try to discipline their children. That is why Lucy does not stop Primrose from doing anything.
Aunt Susan says that she has spoiled Primrose by telling her that her father was a scoundrel and her mother was a fool who married him. Lucy says that she did that because she had to justify her divorce before Primrose.
Therefore, we can conclude that the conflict between Aunt Susan and Lucy is that Aunt Susan thinks that Lucy has spoiled Primrose. She has not brought her up according to the Victorian morality. She has spoiled her by telling her wrong things about her father. However, Lucy defends herself and says that what she did was right.

Q. Why did Primrose decide to marry ugly John instead of marrying a charming man?
Ans.
Primrose decided to marry ugly John instead of a charming man because of the following reasons:
Firstly, she decided to marry ugly John because it would be an insult to her mother if she married a charming man. She said, “I’ve not insulted you. If I’d picked a charming man….” Actually, her father was a charming man. Probably, she had told her daughter that all charming men were unfaithful. She divorced her father because of that. If fact, Lucy had told her so to justify her divorce. Now Primrose was a grown up girl and she knew that not all men were equal. That was why she decided to marry ugly John.
Secondly, she thought that if she married a charming man, her mother would exert her influence on her and would not let her marry. She said to her mother, “Well, for a Charles, you’d have had the right to exert your influence….”
Thirdly, she thought that her mother made a mistake, when she married a charming man. She said that she was marrying an ugly man who was different from her charming father. Therefore, it was a different mistake.
Fourthly, she thought that her mother had been sentimental when she married a charming man, whereas she was not being sentimental. She meant to say that her decision of marrying an ugly man was quite sensible.
Lastly, she decided to marry ugly John because she was in love with him. She told her mother that she was going to marry ugly John because he made her feel all funny inside.
Therefore, these were the reasons behind her marrying ugly John.

Q. Bring out the conflict between Primrose and Lucy.
Ans.
The conflict between Primrose and Lucy is on two levels and they have strained relation because of this conflict.
Firstly, there is conflict because Lucy and Primrose have different views on the institution of marriage. Lucy has been talking against the institution of marriage. That is why Primrose says, “Oh, I know what it means to talk about marriage in this house! It is like talking about something decent people don’t mention.” Lucy may be telling Primrose that the institution of marriage is not a good institution. Primrose says, “…I think marriage is a jolly fine institution.”
She tells that Lucy will not let her marry because Lucy is very young to be a mother-in-law. She says, “I think my mother would prefer me to remain unmarried.” She also thinks that she is a marrying woman, whereas her mother is not.
Secondly, Primrose thinks that her mother neglects her and gives more time to her business. Her business is more important to her than her daughter is. She says to her mother about taxicabs, “They mean more to than I do.” At this Lucy says, “They have their uses.” Primrose gets angry at this answer and says, “I’ve been an awful ass?”
Actually, Lucy has been neglecting Primrose with a purpose. She does not want to impose strict discipline on her. She wants that Primrose should have every chance of enjoying life. However, Primrose misunderstands her. At the end of the story Lucy says, “Taxicabs! Taxicabs, and she believed me!”
Therefore, we can conclude that the conflict between Primrose and Lucy is on two levels and they have strained relation because of his conflict. We can say that mostly Lucy is responsible for this conflict.

Q. How is an independent career a living protest against the necessary of marriage?
Ans.
Lucy was a self-made woman but against the institution of marriage.
Primrose was a marrying woman like her Aunt Susan. Discuss.
When we read the play “Smokescreens” carefully, we see that Lucy and Primrose had conflicting views on the institution of marriage. She said to her mother, “I’m a marrying woman. It’s tough to be a marrying woman….”
Actually, Lucy, her mother, had divorced Primrose’s father and set him away. At that time, he had a car. She hired it out and drove it. She worked very hard for fifteen years. Now she owned three garages and numberless taxicabs. She did not marry again because she was trying to expand her business. She had no time for marriage. Actually, she did not need to marry a man because she had everything. It is in this sense that Primrose thought that an independent career was a living protest against the necessary of marriage.
Unlike her mother, Primrose was a marrying woman, because she had no interest in business or independent career. She said to her mother, “My mother worked, and I didn’t. I haven’t the brains. I think I’m like Aunt Susan in one way. I’m a marrying woman.” Therefore, she compared herself with Aunt Susan because Aunt Susan did not have an independent career. She had a happy family life with a husband and two good sons. This was also according to Primrose’s nature.

Q. Primrose is a child of a broken family. Discuss.
Ans.
No doubt, Primrose is a child of a broken family. The child of a broken family is usually spoiled. He is rude and disrespectful to his elders and does whatever he likes.
When we read the play “Smokescreens” carefully, we find that Primrose is just like that. She goes out at night wearing lipstick and smoking cigarettes. She probably goes to nightclubs that are very bad places. She is rude and disrespectful to her elders. When Aunt Susan hides her handbag, she talks to her rudely. She threatens her that she will spill her on the ground if she does not give her the handbag. She does not listen to her aunt and goes out. When she talks to her mother, she calls her by her name.
We see that Primrose does what she likes. Once when she decides to go out, she does not listen to her aunt and mother. She does not give up smoking in spite of the advice of her aunt. Similarly, when she decides to marry an ugly man, she does not listen to her mother who does not like her decision.
Lucy, her mother is mainly responsible for that. She gives all her time and energies to her business. She neglects her daughter who is very sore about it. Primrose says to her mother about the taxicabs, “They mean more to you than I do?” At this Lucy says, “They have their uses.” Lucy tells her sister, I couldn’t be a domestic mother to my daughter while I was running a business.”
Primrose sums up all this by telling her aunt that it is not particularly easy to be Primrose. Actually, she means to say that she is like that because she belongs to a broken family.

Q. The title of the poem is justified. Discuss.
Ans.
The title of the play “Smokescreens” is quite justified. It is very meaningful and symbolic. ‘Smokescreens’ in the context of the play means a veil of smoke behind which a character hides his real personality and feelings.
When we read the play, we find that there are three main characters in the play and they all have their own smokescreens. They hide their real feelings and personalities and pretend to be what they are not.
The first main character is Aunt Susan. She pretends to be a very civilized and conservative woman. She pretends to have the Victorian morality. However, surprisingly she tells a lie about her headache just to stop Primrose from going out. Apparently, she sympathizes her sister but inwardly she enjoys hers sister’s bad condition. Lucy notices that and asks her not to look so complacent.
The second main character is Primrose. She pretends to be a rude and spoiled girl. She is rude to her aunt and even threatens to spill her on the ground. She is not ready to listen to her aunt. She wears lipstick and goes to nightclubs. However, later in the story she begs her aunt’s forgiveness and tells her that she did so only to avoid conversation. She tells her aunt that she behaved just like a cuttlefish that squirts out a flood of ink to hide it from attack.
The third main character is Lucy. She pretends that she does not have any care or love for her daughter. Actually, she is a loving mother. She wants that her daughter should have every chance of enjoying life. The writer shows her love for her daughter at the end of the play.Therefore, we see that the title of the play is quite justified.

Written by: Asad Hussain

BSc BA English Notes One Act Play Something to Talk About (Eden Phillpotts) Summary Reference Context and Question Answers

BSc BA English Notes One Act Play Something to Talk About (Eden Phillpotts) Summary Reference Context and Question Answers


Summary

The play “Something to Talk About” conveys the idea that very rich people become sick of their monotonous lives. So just for a change, they welcome everything, even burglary. Secondly, we also see that it is very difficult to bear the loss of things, it does not matter how rich a person is. To save his things he ready to harm others.
At three on Christmas morning the Wolf, a burglar, comes to Sydneys’ residence to steal Christmas presents. Lord Redchester is the head of the family. Lady Redchester is his wife Guy and Lettice are his children. Bishop is his brother.
The Wolf is trying to open the safe when Guy comes in. Wolf levels his revolver at him, buy Guy wins his confidence with his clever talk. He takes his permission to bring Lettice there. He tells him that Lettice wants to watch him at work.
Preston, the butler, comes there. The Wolf ties him. Guy promises that the butler will not do anything wrong and unties him. Soon all the members of the family come to room one by one. The Wolf tries his best to open the safe but fails.
Lord Redchester tells him the password “Sophy” and he opens the safe in no time. He brings out all the presents one by one. Everybody tries his gifts. The Wolf takes back the presents and decides to go, but Bishop tries to exploit his religious feelings.
Then he tempts him to leave their presents and take more costly things of their neighbor. They promise to help him in stealing. Buy describes the location. The Wolf agrees and gives back their presents and leaves. Everybody shakes hands with him.

Reference

These lines have been taken from the play “Something to TalkAbout” written by Eden Philpotts.
 

Context

The play is a delightful comedy. This is a satire on the mentality of aristocratic English class. Wolf a notorious burglar enters stealthily the house of Sydney‟s to take away their rich gifts of Christmas. The whole family comes there and enjoys the presence of the burglar. They are very happy and treat the wolf like an old friend. It is the burglar who is surprised, not thefamily. This turning of the tables makes the story very amusing.Wolf puts all their presents in a bag but leaves them, when Wolf is told about more precious gifts in a neighbouring house. The Sydney‟s save their gifts and enjoy the presence of Wolf.

Questions



Q. What is the theme of the play “Something to Talk About”?
Ans.
The theme of the play “Something to Talk About” is the attitude of very rich people. The theme is that very rich people become so tired of their monotonous lives that just for a change or some excitement they enjoy even a burglary. The title of the play also suggests that. We also see that it is very difficult to bear the loss of things. It does not matter how rich a person is. To save his things he is ready to harm others.
The Sydney family lives outside a Cathedral town. This family’s nest-door neighbor lives at a distance of three miles. This shows how isolated life this family is leading. They are living away from common people. They have nothing different or new to do. That is why, when the ‘Wolf’ comes to steal their Christmas presents they welcome him warmly. They treat him just like a guest of honour. Guy says to the Wolf, “You are manna in the wilderness – you are indeed.” This means that they are considering the burglar a blessing from God.
We see that Sydneys are very rich but in spite of being so much rich, they cannot bear the loss of their things. They are ready to harm others. On one occasion, Lettice requests the ‘Wolf’ to let her keep the tiara and take her Uncle Charles’ crosier. Therefore, just to save her tiara she tries to harm her uncle. When the Sydneys see that the ‘Wolf’ is going to take the Christmas presents after all, they ask their neighbour’s costly tings instead. Therefore, they try to harm their neighbor. This is also the theme of the play.

Q. Bring about the humour in the play “Something to Talk About”.
Ans.
“Something to Talk About” is a light comedy. Discuss.
The play “Something to Talk About” is a perfect example of a light comedy. The writer has created humour through very comic comments by the characters and through some very comic situations. Although there is a revolver and a constant threat to life by the burglar, yet the situation remains light and does not become serious anytime.
When Guy asks the Wolf if he is a burglar, he gives a humorous answer. He says, “What d’you think I was. A piano-tuner?” It is also very funny to call a burglar ‘manna in the wilderness’. The Wolf tells Guy about the treatment of American law with criminals with such a funny way that we cannot help laughing. He says, “It’s worthwhile in the States. When they catch you, if you’re bad enough, you go to Sing Sing, and they give you flower gardens and Bridge parties….” When Lord Redchester finds Wolf in his house, he says, “Who the deuce is?” When we read the words ‘deuce’ and ‘imposter’, we laugh heartily.
The play is full of many funny situations too. We see a funny situation when Guy introduces his sister, Lettice, to the Wolf as though he were a guest of honour. It is very funny when Lettice praises Wolf’s tools and he explains them to her. We find another situation when they sing just to encourage the burglar. After that, we find a funny situation when Wolf leaves and everybody shakes hands with him and expresses god wishes.
Therefore, the play “Something to Talk About” is a light comedy and it is full of comic comments and situations.

Q. Discuss the elements of irony in the play “Something to Talk About”.
Ans.
The play “Something to Talk About” is full of elements of irony.
Firstly, we find irony when Wolf tells Guy how American law courts treat criminals. He says, “It’s worthwhile in the States. When they catch you, if you’re bad enough, you go to Sing, Sing and they give you flower gardens and Bridge parties…” Apparently, Wolf is appreciating American law courts, but inwards he is making fun of their lenient treatment towards criminals.
Secondly, we find irony when Guy tells Wolf, “We’re the most trustworthy family in England.” But later in the play we find that they ask Wolf to leave their presents and take their neighbour’s costly things.
Thirdly, at the start of the play, Wolf tells Guy, “The safe isn’t built to beat me.” However, later we see that fails to force open the safe. Fourthly, we find irony in the attitude of Bishop. He advises Wolf to leave worldly wealth and join the ranks of the trustworthy, honourable, and virtuous, but he himself is not ready to leave his gold crosier. To save his gold crosier, he not only tries to exploit Wolf’s religious feelings, but also puts temptation in his way.
Lastly, irony is found in the attitude of the Sydnys. Outwardly, they appreciate Wolf but inwardly they consider him an ‘enemy of society’. They want to get rid of him to save their Christmas presents.

Q. Discuss the elements of satire in the play.
Ans.
Firstly, satire is on rich people who lead a monotonous life and do nothing. They have no sense of morality and are ready to do anything to save their things.
Secondly, satire is on religious people who have become so worldly. They cannot bear the loss of worldly things and are ready even to tempt others and exploit their religious feelings. They preach one thing and practice another. When Wolf says that he does not like clergy, Lady Redchester says, “More does he – finds them most difficult and lawless.” She further says, “He never criticizes anybody; and never does anything; but just sits on the fence and prays for everybody.”
Thirdly, the satire is on English made things that are inferior. Lord Redchester tells Wolf, “We stick to home-made things as a rule, though they are so inferior.” Fourthly, satire is on English roads. Guy says, “Rather bad roads in England, I’m afraid.” At this Wolf says, “You’re right. Worst roads in England.”
Therefore, the play is full of satire.

Q. The Sydneys’ greatest desire is to have some novelty in their monotonous lives. Discuss.
Ans
. No doubt, the play “Something to Talk About” is a clever and pleasant representation of the temperament of modern English people, who might well find nocturnal alarm a matter of objective entertainment. They are so much desirous of some novelty and change in their lives that burglary is not a serious matter. The burglar with a revolver does not frighten them; rather he is “manna in the wilderness”. They enjoy his presence in their home.
They are so much fond of entertainment that everyone wants to join in. One by one all the members of the family come there. No one appears to be afraid or alarmed. To them the burglar is some sort of actor who is going to give some astounding performance.
Lettice wants her mother to join in. She says to Lord R, “Do you thing I might wake mama? She’ll never forgive us if she misses this. You know how she is always yearning for something to happen. It will be cruel, papa, to enjoy Wolf without her.” The words spoken by Lettice tell us about the temperament of a modern English people, who might well find nocturnal alarm a matter of objective entertainment.
They arrange chairs in a semi-circle. They thank the burglar on coming to their home for stealing. Lady Redchester says, “The terror of England! And under our roof! How nice of him! How do you do?” Therefore, they receive the burglar rather warmly. They treat him just like a guest of honour.
Therefore, from the above discussion, we can conclude that the play “Something to Talk About” is a clever and pleasant representation of the temperament of modern English people.

Written by: Asad Hussain

BSc BA English Notes One Act Play The Boy Comes Home (A. A. Milne) Summary Reference Context and Question Answers

BSc BA English Notes One Act Play The Boy Comes Home (A. A. Milne) Summary Reference Context and Question Answers


Summary

The play “The Boy Comes Home” is a light comedy. It throws light on the generation gap. The old generation thinks that the young generation is immature just like a schoolboy. It should obey the old generation. In fact, the young generation is mature and it can take the right decision.
Philip is a young man of 23. He lives with Uncle James who is his patron. He has returned after four years of war. On the very first morning, he comes for breakfast at ten. Uncle James keeps a strict discipline in the house. According to his orders, breakfast is served at eight.
Philip has row with Mrs. Higgins because of this. She threatens to leave the job if she is asked to prepare breakfast at ten. Philip handles her very cleverly.
Uncle James comes to see Philip. He wants to ask him to join his jam business; however, just before Philip’s entry into the room, he goes to sleep. In his dream, he meets with Philip. He orders him to join jam business. However, Philip wants to learn some profession. Uncle James thinks that Philip is just like a schoolboy and he cannot choose a career for himself.
To prove that he is mature, Philip relates his experience at Somme. However, Uncle James still insists on his own decision. He threatens to use the power of the purse. At this, Philip takes out a revolver and a bomb out of his pocket and frightens Uncle James to death. He agrees to do what Philip wants.
In the meanwhile, Uncle James wakes up. He is now a changed man. When Philip actually comes to talk to him, he is rather confused and repeats the same things what Philip has said in his dream. Philip at once agrees to join the jam business. Uncle James is not sure about his dream.


Reference

These lines have been taken from the play “The Boy Comes Home” written by A.A. Milne.

Context

The play is a fateful event in the family affairs of Uncle James, a successful businessman who believes in strict discipline. Philip,the young nephew of Uncle James, comes home after four years of active war services in the army. He is now a mature young man though only 21. He gets up late against the strict orders of his uncle to get up early. Uncle James is angry to see that Philip has violated the strict rules of his discipline. He presses Philip to join him in his jam business. But Philip refuses to do so, holding that he would prefer to be an architect. His uncle refuses to give him the money for that job. Philip takes out his revolver. Uncle
James gives in. but suddenly Philip announces to join the business of his uncle. It is a favorable change for the family.
 

Questions


Q. What are the conflicts between Philip and Uncle James?
Ans.
The first conflict between Philip and Uncle James is that Philip does not like his Uncle’s authoritative attitude and his strict discipline in the house. Philip says to Uncle James, “Well, we don’t get on too well together…”
When we read the play “The Boy Comes Home” carefully, we find the authoritative attitude of Uncle James. He treats Philip as an inexperienced schoolboy. He thinks that he will decide everything for Philip. He says to Emily, “I have decided that the best thing he can do is to come into the business at once. He further says, “He’ll fall in with my wishes.”
He is ready to use his authority as a patron. Aunt Emily asks him to let Philip decide his career. However, he says, “He may, but I don’t see how he proposes to do it so long as I hold the purse strings.” This is what he has in his mind when he calls Philip. He just wants to tell Philip about his decision. Secondly, Philip wants the money left by his father to learn some profession. However, Uncle James does not want to give him the money until he is 25.  Philip does not like it and says, “Look here, Uncle James do you really think that you can treat me like a boy who’s just left school?” Uncle James tells Philip that he will use the power of purse if he does not submit to his orders. Then Philip uses the power of revolver and bomb. He frightens Uncle James to death and Uncle James is ready to do what Philip wants.
Therefore, these are the conflicts between Philip and Uncle James.

Q. What is the importance of dream in the play “The Boy Comes Home”?
Ans.
The dreams sequence has great importance in the play “The Boy Comes Home” for a number of reasons. The first and the most important reason is that it looks very awkward and immoral for a nephew to aim a revolver at his uncle and to make him kneel down and beg for his life. That is why the writer has used the dream sequence to relate this awkward and immoral situation. He makes the reader believe that all this has happened in a dream and he should not take it seriously.
Secondly, we see that dream sequence ends the conflict between Philip and Uncle James. Philip does not like Uncle James’s authoritative attitude and strict discipline. He wants to live somewhere else. He wants his money and wants to learn some profession. While Uncle James does not want to give him the money until he is 25. We see that after his dream Uncle James is a new man. Now there exists no conflict between them. He is now a reasonable man. Now he understands the problems of the young generation.
Thirdly, dream sequence is a source of comedy. After the dream, Uncle James repeats the same words as Philip has spoken in his dream. In the dream sequence, Philip say, “If I’m four years behind, so is everybody else.” After the dream sequence, Uncle James speaks the same words. He says, “Well, if you’re four years behind, so is everybody else.” These kinds of sentences create comedy and the reader laughs when he reads these sentences.
Therefore, with the help of the dream sequence, the writer has related a very awkward and immoral incident. It resolves the conflict between Philip and Uncle James and provides comedy to the play.

Q. How has the war affected Philip’s personality?
Ans.
The war has greatly affected Philip’s personality. The words spoken by Aunt Emily are very important and meaningful. She says to Uncle James, “Well, I think that Philip’s four years out there have made him more of a man, he doesn’t seem somehow like a boy who can be told what to do. I’m sure they have taught him something.” She further says, “You’ll find him different.”
Before going to the war, Philip was just like an inexperienced boy. Now he is like a grown up man. Before going to the war, he used to do what he was asked to do. Now he makes his own decisions and nobody can dictate him. Army has taught him something. He is different now.
Now he has learned how to handle people. He handles Mrs. Higgins so successfully that she is taken aback. She tells a lie to save her job. When she leaves, she is speechless. At the end of the Philip says that he does not know if he will be any good. At this, Uncle James says, “It’s your experience in managing and…er…handling men which I hope will be of value.”
He has also learned to use power against power. Uncle James threatens to use the power of purse, but suddenly Philip takes out a revolver and levels at him. Uncle James tells Philip that it is not good to settle arguments by force. At this, Philip tells him about war and says, “We used force to put down force. That is what I’m doing now.”
Therefore, we can conclude that war has greatly affected Philip’s personality. He is now like a grown up man. He has learned to handle people and to use force against force.

Q. How does Philip prove himself a mature and responsible man?
Ans.
Philip proves himself a mature and responsible man to Aunt Emily by handling Mrs. Higgins and to Uncle James by relating the incident of Somme.
Philip handles Mrs. Higgins, the cook, so successfully that when she leaves she is speechless. Aunt Emily is very much impressed and tells Uncle James, “Well, I think that Philip’s four years out there have made him more of a man.” This shows that is quite convinced that Philip is mature and responsible.
Uncle James is not ready to give Philip the money left by his father until he is 25. He thinks that Philip is just like a schoolboy. To prove that he is mature enough Philip relates the event that took place at Somme during the war.
It happened that Philip’s company was in a trench. The German knew about them. The Germans killed the company commander. After his death, now Philip was the company commander. They had lost about half the company by that time. It was a very difficult situation and he had great responsibility on his shoulders. Lives of many soldiers depended on him. He took a very mature and responsible decision. He moved the company to the other trench. Then he went back to the C.O. and told him that he had moved.
Uncle James appreciated him and said, “I’m glad that you did well out there and I’m sure your colonel would speak kindly of you….” The words spoken by Uncle James show that Philip has proved himself mature and responsible very successfully.

Q. Relate the incident of Somme in your words.
Ans.
It happened at Somme, the front, which Philip’s company was to attack next day. They were in a trench. The Germans knew about them. Therefore, they were firing at them. The company commander wanted to move from that place. He asked his C.O. about that. The C.O. ordered them to stay there and wait until the next day.
Later, the Germans killed the company commander. After his death, now Philip was the company commander. He knew something about scouting too. Therefore, he found another trench. That was better than the first trench. He sent two men one after the other to ask if he could move that trench. However, they did not come back.
They had lost about half the company by that time. Now Philip had three options. Firstly, he might stay there and wait until the next day. Secondly, he might move to that other trench against orders. Thirdly, he might go back himself and explain the situation to the C.O.
It was a very difficult situation. He had great responsibility on his shoulders at that time. Lives of many soldiers depended on him. He took a very mature and responsible decision. He moved the company to the other trench. Then he went back to the C.O. and told him that he had moved. After that, he went back to the company again.

Q. Discuss the comic elements in the play “The Boy Comes Home”.
Ans.
The play “The Boy Comes Home” is a light comedy.
Firstly, we find comic element at the start of the play. Philip comes down for breakfast at 10 o’clock, whereas the breakfast is served at 8. Philip asks Marry, the parlor-maid, to bring breakfast. Marry tries to frighten him and says, “I’m sure I don’t know what Mrs. Higgins will say?” She starts repeating this sentence. This sentence creates a lot of humor.
Mrs. Higgins comes and shows her anger. However, Philip handles her so artfully that she has to tell a lie to save her job. She says, “Who said anything about going?” There is a great difference between how she comes and goes. This situation is very funny and makes us laugh.
Secondly, Uncle James tells about his sacrifices in a very funny way. He says that he has done his part for the country by giving his nephew to the country, by suffering the shortage of potatoes and by paying the excess profits tax. His claims are very funny.
Thirdly, in the dream sequence, Philip talks about choosing a career. He says, “If I’m four years behind, so is everybody else.” After the dream, Uncle James repeats the same words. He says, “Well, if you’re four years behind, so is everybody else.” This is funny.
At the end of the play, Uncle James’s condition creates a lot of comedy when he laughs with a forced heartiness. Philip says about the strict manager, “Perhaps I’d better bring my revolver….” At this Uncle James says, “Ha, ha! A good joke that! Ha, ha, ha! A good joke – but only a joke, of course.”
Therefore, the play is full of comic elements.

Written by: Asad Hussain

BSc BA English Notes One Act Play The Bear (Anton Chekhove) Summary Reference Context and Question Answers

BSc BA English Notes One Act Play The Bear (Anton Chekhove) Summary Reference Context and Question Answers


Summary

The play “The Bear” is a farce. It is full of many absurd situations and remarks. There are three main characters in the play and they all make us laugh with their absurd behavior and comments.
Popova is a widow. Her husband died seven months ago, but she is still in mourning. Her servant, Luka advises her to give up her mourning. He advises her to see her neighbors, but she says that she will keep on mourning until her death.
In the meanwhile, Smirnov comes to take 1200 roubles from Popova. Her husband used to buy oat from him. Popova tells him that her steward is out and she will pay him the day after tomorrow.
However, Smirnov insists on taking the money that day. He behaves rudely. He even makes fun of Popova’s mourning and her state of mind. Popova also becomes rude. They speak against each others sex and use insulting words. Smirnov thinks that he has been insulted. He challenges Popova to fight a duel.
Popova accepts the challenge and brings her husband’s revolver. However, she does not know how to fire. She asks Smirnov to teach her how to fire. The situation changes and Smirnov is impressed by her boldness and beauty. He says that he does not want to fight the duel. He expresses his love for her. He offers her his hand.
First, she insists on fighting, but then asks him to go. She changes her decision repeatedly and then decides to marry him. When Luka returns with other servants to beat Smirnov, he is surprised to see them touching each other.

Reference

These lines have been taken from the play “The Bear” written by “Anton Chekhove”.

Context

The play is powerful farce. The writer has exposed the feudal mentality through a delightful comedy. Popova, the heroine, is a beautiful young widow. She is in deep mourning for her husband who died seven months ago. She wants to show the world how faithful a wife she is. She has shut herself up in her bower refuses to see visitors. Smirnov, a middle-aged landlord, calls on her for recovery of a loan taken by her husband. She tries to put him off. He insists to see her. So she has to see him. He asks for his money. She tells him to come day after tomorrow. Bitter quarrels follows. During the quarrel Smirnov suggests that she should marry instead of wasting her life away for her disloyal husband. Popova gives in because she does not like to lose such a good offer

Questions


Q. Describe the reasons behind the marriage of Popova and Smirnov.
Ans.
Both Popova and Smirnov had their own reasons of marriage. We shall discuss them one by one.
Popova had been mourning the death of her husband for the last seven months. She had been leading a lonely and sad life since then. Seven months was a long period. Now time had conquered her grief. Inwardly, she wanted some change in her life. She did not want to continue this mourning any more. Besides, it is human psychology that man gets sick and tired of doing the same thing for a long period.
The second reason may be the advice of her servant Luka. He shocked her by making her understand that in ten years’ time, she would not be beautiful anymore and no man would look at her. It was shocking for Popova.
The third reason was that Popova had a very romantic nature. Her mourning the death of her husband for seven months shows this. However, when Smirnov assured her of his love, she was greatly moved. It was very romantic that a man was on his knees, was offering her his hand, and was speaking very romantic dialogues. Smirnov said, “…I’m on my knees like a fool, offering you my hand…” It was all according to her romantic nature. She could not resist it and accepted the proposal.
Smirnov decided to marry Popova because he fell in love with her. He was greatly impressed by her beauty and boldness. He said, “But what a woman!” and, “That’s the sort I can understand!” He further says, “I’ve never in my life seen one like her!” He also says, “I love you as I’ve never loved before!”
Therefore, these were the reasons behind the marriage of Popova and Smirnov.

Q. What was the main issue or conflict between Smirnov and Popova?
Ans.
When we go through the play “The Bear”, we find that at first, the main conflict between them was money, but later this conflict changed into another conflict – insult.
Popova’s late husband was to pay some money to Smirnov. He used to buy oats for his horses. However, before paying the money he died. Seven months had passed. Now Smirnov and come to Popova to take his money. Unfortunately, Popova’s steward was not present. Therefore, she was unable to pay his money that day. She plainly told Smirnov about this situation. She promised that she would pay his money the day after tomorrow. However, Smirnov insisted on taking the money on that day. Smirnov talked to her rudely and in an uncivilized manner. He made fun of her mourning. Popova also made fun of him. She even abuses him and calls him a bear. She said, “You’re a boor! A coarse bear! A bourbon! A monster!”
Smirnov thought that Popova had insulted him. On the other hand, Popova thought that Smirnov did not know how to behave before women. She wanted to kill him for that. This was the second main conflict between them. This conflict between them grew serious and they decided to fight a duel. Popova brought her late husband’s revolver.
Therefore, we can say that at first the main conflict between them was money. However, later this conflict changed into another conflict – insult. Both of them thought that they had been insulted. Luckily, these conflicts did not bring any serious consequences. 

Q. The play “The Bear” is a farce (ridiculous situation). Discuss.
Ans.
Describe the comic elements of the play “The Bear”.
When we go through the play “The Bear”, we find that it is a farce. A farce is full of many absurd situations and remarks. These situations and remarks make the readers laugh. There are three main characters in the play and they all make us laugh with their absurd comments. There are also many absurd situations. When the play starts, we see that Luka is advising Popova to leave her mourning and go out to see her neighbours. However, his way of advising her is very absurd. He gives the examples of cats, midges, and spiders. We simply laugh at these examples. Popova looks at the photograph of her husband and calls him a ‘bad child’. The word ‘bad child’ makes us laugh.
When Popova refuses to give Smirnov the money, he says, “I have not the pleasure of being either your husband or your finance, so please don’t make scenes.” These remarks are very funny and absurd and we laugh at them. When Popova accepts the challenge of duel from Smirnov, he says that he will bring her down like a chicken. The word ‘chicken’ is very funny.
We find the most comic and absurd situation in the play when Popova brings her husband’s revolvers and asks Smirnov to teach her how to fire. This is very absurd that she asks her enemy to teach her how to fire. It is also very absurd that Smirnov starts teaching her. What a funny and absurd situation it is! He not only teaches her how to fire, but he also tells her the prices of different revolvers. Another situation is very funny when Popova changes her mind repeatedly. At one time, she asks him to leave and at another asks him to stay.
From the above discussion, we can conclude that it is a farce and there are many comic and absurd elements in the play. The writer has created comedy through funny comments and absurd situations.

Q. Discuss the title of the play “The Bear”.
Ans.
The title of the play “The Bear” is quite justified. This title suggests the attitude of Smirnov who is just like a bear. In everyday language, we call ‘bear’ to a person who is rude, bad mannered and bad tempered.
When we go through the play, we find that Smirnov is bad-tempered and rude. On his first appearance in the play, he calls Luka, the servant of Popova, fool and ass. Popova tells him that her steward is not present and so she cannot pay the money that day but Smirnov does not listen to her. When Popova tells him that she is in a state of mind, Smirnov makes fun of her state of mind. He even makes fun of her mourning. He makes fun of her wearing lipstick and powdering her face.
Then he talks against women. Popova is right when she says that he does not know how to behave before women. When Luka asks him to leave, he gets angry and threatens him. He says, “Shut up! Who are you talking to? I’ll chop you into pieces!” these words spoken by Smirnov clearly show how bad-tempered he is.
He is so rude that he challenges Popova to fight a duel. Now it is very rude to challenge a woman to fight a duel. He is ready to kill her and says, “I’ll bring her down like a chicken! I’m not a little boy or a sentimental puppy; I don’t care about this “softer sex.”
Therefore, from the above discussion we can conclude that the title of the play is quite justified. It suggests the attitude of Smirnov who is just like a bear in his attitude.

Q. Justify the end of the play “The Bear”.
Ans.
No doubt, the end of the play “The Bear” is very sudden and unexpected. We see that both Smirnov and Popova have revolvers in their hands. They are going to fight a duel and to kill each other but suddenly they decide to marry. This is unexpected. However, when we go through the play, we find that this sudden and unexpected end has many reasons. We shall discuss them one by one.
The reason of Popova’s change of mind was that Popova had been mourning the death of her husband for the last seven months. She had been leading a lonely and sad life since then. Seven months was a long period. Now time had conquered her grief. Inwardly, she wanted some change in her life. She did not want to continue this mourning any more. Besides, it is human psychology that man gets sick and tired of doing the same thing for a long time.
The second reason may be the advice of Luka, her servant. He shocked her by telling her that in ten year’s time, she would not be beautiful anymore and no man would look at her. It was shocking for Popova. The third reason was that Popova had a very romantic nature. When Smirnov assured her of his love, she was greatly moved. It was all according to her romantic nature.
Smirnov decide to marry Popova because he fell in love with her. He was greatly impressed by her beauty. When Popova accepted his challenge of fighting a duel, he was greatly impressed by her boldness too. So, he changed his mind and decided to marry her.
The most important point in that it is a comedy and the end of a comedy cannot be serious. Its end must be funny and pleasant.
 Therefore, we can conclude that although the end of the play is sudden and unexpected, yet it is quite justified.

Q. Both Smirnov and Popova have the same qualities of character. Discuss.
Ans.
Both Popova and Smirnov are the chips off the same block. Discuss.
It is quite right to say that both Smirnov and Popova have the same qualities of character.
When we go through the play “The Bear” carefully, we find that both are rude, romantic, quarrelsome and hot-tempered. Both swear not to marry all their lives, but they change their decision.
When the play starts, we see that Smirnov comes right in without getting any permission. He calls Luka fool and ass. Later, he makes fun of Popova's mourning and her state of mind. He speaks against women and uses insulting words. It is also very rude to challenge a woman to fight a duel. He threatens that he will chop Luka into pieces. He is romantic by nature. He falls in love with Popova. He tells Popova that he had fought duels three times because of women. He changes his decision and decides to marry Popova.
Popova is also just like Smirnov. She is rude too. She abuses Smirnov. She talks against men. When Smirnov challenges her to fight a duel, she at once accepts the challenge. She goes and brings revolvers. Smirnov wants to avoid the duel, but she insists on fighting it. This shows how quarrelsome and hot-tempered she is.
She is romantic by nature. She mourns the death of her husband for seven months. She talks to his photograph and promises to continue mourning until her death. This is romantic but she also changes her decision of mourning until her death and decides to marry Smirnov.
Therefore, we can conclude that both Smirnov and Popova are the chips off the same block and they have the same qualities of character.

Q. Prove the play a farcical comedy portraying the behaviour of the feudal?
Ans.
Anton Chekhove was not only a dramatist but also a great short story writer. The present play “The Bear” is a farce, full of fun, fury and boisterous noisy laughter. The play revolves around two main characters and the behavior of the characters is ridiculous, funny,and sentimental. Popova‟s husband has died and she has cut herself off from society. She has closed herself in the four walls of her house and is leading a completely secluded life when the play opens, Luka, her servant, is seen advising her to take part in the activities of life. She announces that since the death of her husband, life has lost all its meaning for her. Through their conversation, we come to know that Popova‟s late husband had not been a nice fellow. He had not treated Popova well.Still Popova is bent upon showing the soul of the dead husband how faithful she is. So she rebukes Luka for advising her to take full interest in life, as it‟s a saying: “There are women who love their husbands as blindly, as enthusiastically and as enigmatically as nuns their cloister.”
The writer has exposed the feudal mentality through a delightful comedy. Smirnov, a middle aged landlord, calls on Popova for the recovery of a loan taken by her husband. The servant, Luka, brings the message. She refuses to admit Smirnov. But he insists on seeing her. So she has to see him. Smirnov asks for his money. She tells him to come day after tomorrow. Smirnov says he will not leave the house without money. He would rather stay in the house till the day after tomorrow. A bitter quarrel follows. During the quarrel Smirnov suggests that she should marry instead of wasting her life away for her cruel, disloyal husband. He presses this point home and succeeds in persuading her to marry him. Popova gives in because she does not like to lose such a good offer. The play is a delightful satire on utilitarian morality as well. Smirnov marries Popova for her wealth and status. She too sees her own advantage. Smirnov is not only a jovial fellow but also a landlord. It is thus an equal bargain for both of them. Apart from this serious theme the play is remarkable for its superb humor of dialogue and situation. So the play is a good farce and has farcical situation.

Q. Draw woman nature discussing Popova‟s character.
Ans.
Popova is a rich young widow of feudal class. She is true representative of her class. She is foolish, frivolous and selfish. She loves to show off even in sorrow. She wishes to be honored as a faithful wife. That is why she seems to take her husband‟s death seriously. She is hypocrite because she does not love her husband so much as she pretends. She is a very talkative lady and it is through her continuous talk that we are able to guess that most of the time she is telling lies and is, in fact quite unfaithful and insincere. She says: “I shall be true till death and show him how I can love.”  Smirnov, a friend of her husband, has come to collect his bill but she refuses and says that she will pay the bill, the day after tomorrow.Smirnov asks her to pay immediately. So they decide to fight a duel with each other. But she does not know how to fire a shot, and says to Smirnov: “Before we fight you must know to fire. I have never held a pistol in my hands before.” Smirnov who is as perfect a shot as one who, “ Can put a bullet through a coin tossed into the air as it comes down”
Smirnov begins to tell her and on the other hand he himself declares that he is “going to fire in the air” because “its‟ my affair” .Meanwhile the moody Smirnov falls in love with Popova. He kneels before her and says: “I love you as I have never loved before! I have refused twelve woman, nine have refused me, but I never loved one of them as I love you.” At first she shows hatred towards him. He gets up and quickly goes to the door but she stops him. “No, stop … No … go away, go away I hate you”, “yes, yes go away”. All of a sudden we see popova lowering her eyes and they embrace each other most passionately. Through the character of Popova, the writer has described and shown the nature of woman. Like ladies of her class Popova is very emotional. She flies into a rage whenever something happens against her desire. She cannot stand defiance. Popova has no character. She is often in conflict with herself. For instance she vows never to forget her husband, but at the same time she admits that he was not good husband. Popova easily falls for temptation. So she accepts Smirnov‟s offer readily. She is a complex character because she is not what she seems. All in all she is a truly feudal character showing the woman‟s nature.

Character Sketch of Smirnov

Smirnov is a middle-aged landlord. He is a very intelligent and clever man. He knows how to make his way in the world. He knows the psychology of a woman. That is why he is not disturbed by the hostile attitude of popova. He knows how to handle her.Smirnov has no respect for others. He openly condemns Popova‟s husband. He does not mind speaking indecently about the dead man.His conversation with Popova is not polite. He seems to have no manners. But actually he is very clever. He wants to achieve his object. And he knows that is the best way to achieve it. Woman likes a bold and outspoken man. So Smirnov deals with her, as Smirnov is a man of the world and a businessman. He is very much like the heroes of Bernard Shaw. The delightful humor of speech and action in the play owes its orig into the odd speech and manners of Smirnov. Even in a furious mood,his speech carries a note of humor, because his fury is the fury of a foolish man. We cannot help smiling at his irritation.Smirnov behaves like a fool but he is not really a fool. He is rather a shrewd businessman who pretends to be a rude intruding fool. Popova is really taken in by his trick. He knows that she will fall for it. She pretends to be angry but in fact she likes the bold manner of Smirnov.So we see that Smirnov succeeds in his purpose.

Written by: Asad Hussain

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