The Thursday Quiz is an "Is It or Isn't It" game. From the list of twelve items, your job is to determine whether each IS or ISN'T a true example of the week's category.
Remember always that "to be or not to be that?" is the question. Also:
No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. Violators will be hoist on their own petard.This Week's Category creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time!
This week, the Thursday Quiz presents some of the greatest plays of the Immortal Bard, shortened to a manageable length for today's busy lifestyles. Which plays have I summarized more or less accurately? And which have I converted from hawk to handsaw?
1. All's Well that Ends Well -- Helena, the orphaned daughter of a physician, lives in the home of the Countess of Rossillion and is secretly in love with the Countess's son, Bertram. She cures the King of France of a disease, then asks for Bertram's hand in marriage. Bertram flees to a war in Italy in order to avoid marriage. Helena goes on what is ostensibly a pilgrimage and ends up in Florence, where she meets Bertram's new flame Diana. Helena sleeps with Bertram while Bertram believes he is sleeping with Diana, and thereby bags her man.
2. As You Like It -- Diago, an ensign in the Venetian army who really dislikes his General, maliciously schemes against him. He tries to make trouble between the General and his powerful father-in-law, and then tricks the General into believing that his wife is having an affair with his best buddy. Eventually, the hapless General commands the assassination of his pal and kills his innocent wife himself. But things don't turn out too well for Diago, either.
3. Henry V -- Henry, Duke of Gloucester, wants to be king, but so many other people are in his way! What to do? He has his brother George arrested for treason and then killed. King Edward IV, the third brother, hearing of George's death and takes ill and dies. Henry has his little nephews, Edward's heirs, confined in the Tower, ostensibly for safe-keeping. Edward IV's widow, Elizabeth, mistrusts Henry and is proved right when he also has HER brothers executed. Then he kills the nephews! He's king! Then he kills his wife. But by then, he has made quite a few enemies and they come and kill him.
4. Macbeth -- The King of Scotland is dead and has been succeeded by his brother Claudius. Claudius has also married Gertrude, the widowed Queen. The prince, Gertrude's son, is already distressed by his father's death and the hasty remarriage. When his father's ghost appears to announce that he was murdered by Claudius, the prince vows revenge. To cover his intentions, he feigns madness.
5. The Merchant of Venice -- Bassanio, a young Venetian, is determined to woo the wealthy heiress Portia. He needs some dosh to pull this off, and asks his rich buddy Antonio to lend him the money. Antonio has some cash flow issues, so borrows the cash from a moneylender, Shylock. Shylock doesn't much like Antonio, so offers him an interest-free loan that carries a nasty late penalty: a pound of flesh. Death, basically. For a while, it looks like Antonio will have to pay the penalty, but eventually everything turns out fine.
6. Othello -- A Moorish general gets talked into killing the king and assuming the throne by his ambitious wife. Then, they decide that he needs to kill off a few more people who would also like to be king, or people who correctly suspect him of having murdered his predecessor. Eventually, a competitor shows up with a big army and, much to his surprise -- some dodgy witches implied that he was invulnerable -- does him in.
7. Pericles -- Greek populist Oripides offers a crown to Pericles. Although Pericles turns it down, fear that he is becoming too powerful leads several Athenian leaders, including the highly respected Achilles, to plot his assassination. Disregarding his wife's prophetic dream, Pericles goes to the Agora and is killed. In rabble-rousing speeches, Achilles and Oripides present contrasting views of the conspirators' motives. The people turn against the conspirators, who are forced to flee Athens. Beset by Oripides' army and haunted by Pericles' ghost, Achilles agrees to take his army to serve in the Trojan War.
8. The Taming of the Shrew -- Katherine, a young woman of Padua, needs to be married off so that her beautiful little sister, Bianca, can get hitched. While much wooing of Bianca is going on, a poor poet named Petruchio arrives in town. Petruchio sees that Katherine, who is thought of as abrasive, is actually a kind-hearted person who lacks opportunities to express her intelligence. He becomes her tutor, and the two of them conspire to make people think he has "tamed" her. This allows Katherine, no longer stigmatized as a "shrew," to marry the Duke of Padua; in gratitude, her father grants Petruchio Bianca's hand in marriage.
9. The Tempest -- Prospero, former Duke of Milan, has been exiled to an island where he lives quietly with his daughter Miranda, an enslaved supernatural being named Caliban, a spirit named Ariel, and his books. When his enemies sail by the island, Prospero uses magic to raise a storm and shipwreck them. The castaways wander the island, enduring all sorts of tests and mischief set up for them by Prospero. Some of them scheme with Caliban against Prospero, futilely. A handsome prince, Ferdinand, falls in love with Miranda. Everyone is reconciled in the end, and Prospero gives up magic since it's kind of sacrilegious.
10. Titus Andronicus -- Titus Andronicus, Rome's most honored general, returns from wars against the Goths with their Queen Tamora and her sons as captives. He sacrifices her eldest son; she vows revenge. Once she becomes empress through various twists and turns, her two remaining sons rape and horrifically mutilate Titus' daughter; he vows revenge. He eventually gets it by killing the two sons and serving them to their mom in a pie. Then pretty much everyone else gets killed too.
11. Two Gentlemen of Verona -- Geronto and Marcello, the titular gentlemen of Verona, enter into a bet to see who can woo the most beautiful woman. After predictable hijinks, Geronto falls in love with a beautiful but anonymous actress at the palace theater, and Marcello is smitten by a young shepherdess he sees in the countryside. Neither can work up the nerve to approach their loves, but each brags publically of bawdy make-out sessions in order to claim the bet. Unfortunately for the gentlemen, both of the women are in fact the same woman: the young Queen, who goes out in disguise to escape the tedium of palace life. When the King hears of their boasts, they are condemned to death -- but when the whole story comes out, the King and Queen are more flattered than angry, and they are granted a full pardon.
12. The Winter's Tale -- Viola and her twin brother Sebastian have been shipwrecked, and Viola believes Sebastian to be drowned. Viola disguises herself as a boy and, calling herself "Cesario," enters the service of Duke Orsino. The Duke sends Cesario to woo the lady Olivia on his behalf but Olivia falls in love with the attractive 'boy' instead. Meanwhile, Sebastian turns out to still be alive and, since he looks a lot like his sister, hinjinks ensue. Olivia meets Sebastian and, mistaking him for Cesario, arranges for them to be secretly married. Other people are also confused by meeting “Cesario” unexpectedly. Orsino is furious at the apparent falseness of his page, but eventually true identities are revealed and Orsino recognizes his love for Viola.
Post your answers in the comments.
Note: These summaries -- the true ones, anyway -- have been vetted and approved by an actual, real-life Shakespeare scholar, for your protection.