Shakespeare Midterm Exam
Fall 2020

English 205 — Fall 2020
Washington State University



I. IDENTIFICATIONS. [10 questions; total 20 points.]

You know, maybe match Column A with Column B; or identify who says “I am Christopher Sly”; or fill in the blank: “Kiss me, _____” — that kind of question, only a bit harder, taken from the materials of the first half of the term: The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, and other in-class materials. These cates will be inflicted individually and intracerebrally during the scheduled class period, Friday, October 9th. I will e-mail you the questions (both as e-mail text and as a Word doc) by 9:00am and will expect answers (either format) e-mailed back to me individually by 10:00am.

II. QUOTATIONS. [8 questions; total 40 points.]

Included in the same e-mailing will be a combination of identification and, more importantly, significance questions, following quotations from the three plays and other relevant materials, extracted for their representativeness of our discussions over key points during these first weeks. This is not Trivial Pursuit, and I derive no glee from stumping you; but you do need to recognize key ideas and moments from the plays and from our interactions in class. If you have read the plays closely and paid attention in class, only a close review of notes is necessary for preparation; my web notes may be of use also. Otherwise, woe to thee, gleeking dog-hearted knave.

III. TAKE-HOME ESSAY. [Total 40 points.]

DO THIS PART FIRST! Answer the following question thoroughly and precisely, perhaps even shrewdly, to at least three or four (3-4) pages, double-spaced. Answers should be virtuoso pieces of brilliance manifested in impressive eloquence, with facile reference to specifics from the Shakespearean texts, rather than just “Words, words, words.” An e-copy of the essay is due on exam day — Friday, October 9th, 9:10 am — to be dropped in Blackboard in the Discussions section.

What’s new?

That is, describe your frame of mind about Shakespeare and your expectations about a university Shakespeare course before this semester began (or, if you had taken one already, then before that class). What facet of Shakespeare, emerging since the start of this semester, has changed or modified your prior impression of this field of study, and what is the significance of this experience? Be precise enough to be including specifics and quotations from at least one of our plays. I’m not looking for an early course evaluation here, nor flattery, but rather a reflective moment on the critical thinking component of this portion of your educational experience at WSU while it is, ideally, happening.

For more advice on writing a sterling essay and avoiding common pitfalls, see here: Essay Advice.

The essay is due at the start of exam time to accompany the other “in-class” components of the test. You’ll be glad you did, for ’tis deeds must win the prize!


Identify the character or thing referred to (underlined) in the following.

“My business asketh haste, and every day I cannot come to woo.”



“I pray you . . . be not so disquiet.
The meat was well, if you were so contented.”


“For how I firmly am resolv’d you know:
That is, not to bestow my youngest daughter
Before I have a husband for the elder.”


“The King hath kill’d his heart.”


“She is our capital demand, compris’d
Within the fore-rank of our articles.”


“Ask for me to-morrow, and you
shall find me a grave man.”


“Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”


* * *

Answer completely but concisely the following.

“Fie, what a foolish duty call you this?”
“I would your duty were as foolish too.
The wisdom of your duty, …
Hath cost me a hundred crowns since supper-time.”
“The more fool you for laying on my duty.”

Name both speakers here, and explain why the money was lost. What is the greater significance (unintended by the speaker) we realize in the final line?

“But in the other’s silence do I see
Maid’s mild behavior and sobriety.
. . .
Hark . . . thou mayst hear Minerva speak.”

Identify the speaker and the play. Name two ways the reference to Minerva applies to the character he sees (one meaning he intends, the other he is unaware of).

* * *

“Am I a lord, and have I such a lady?
Or do I dream? Or have I dream’d till now?”

Identify the speaker.
Earlier he spoke in prose, but here the verse form is called what?
How does the change in style introduce one of the themes of the play?

“. . . the scene
Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton;
There is the playhouse now, there you must sit….”

Identify the speaker and the play.
How is this moment peculiar, compared to normal transitions?
What does this suggest about Shakespeare’s subtler message here?

You see a film clip in which a man pursues a woman up a staircase, insisting, “Will you, nil you, I will marry you.” She says, “I’d sooner die!” and exits out an upper-story window. With a panicked look on his face, the man says to himself, “My twenty thousand crowns!”

What might be considered inappropriate, in comparison with the play itself, in how the director handled this scene? Explain briefly.