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Quiz about Shakespeares Birds
Quiz about Shakespeares Birds

Shakespeare's Birds Trivia Quiz


Shakespeare clearly possessed some fundamental ornithological knowledge. But exactly which birds did he refer to in his plays?

A multiple-choice quiz by HobbitLady. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
HobbitLady
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
358,119
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
231
Last 3 plays: james1947 (10/10), workisboring (4/10), GoodwinPD (10/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. In "Romeo and Juliet", the ill-fated couple have just spent their one and only night together and Romeo must flee into exile, or risk death if he is captured. Understandably, he is reluctant to leave Juliet and, as dawn approaches, tries to persuade her the bird she has heard singing is not beginning the dawn chorus, but is ... what kind of bird? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Lady Macbeth claims: "The _______ himself is hoarse/That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan/Under my battlements." To which fateful bird does she allude? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Which bird, according to a song in "The Winter's Tale", chants "tirra lirra"? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. In the spring, when "daisies pied and violets blue" "do paint the meadows with delight", this bird "on every tree, his blithesome note sings merrily". In "Love's Labours Lost", this song mentions many birds but focuses primarily on which one?

Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. In which of Shakespeare's plays does a jester's song about a "jolly robin" mock the plight of a miserable butler? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. A character in "Hamlet" - but which one? - makes the pretty random comment "They say the owl was a baker's daughter". Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. A lover called Lysander switches his affection from one girl, Hermia, to another, Helena, exclaiming: "Who will not change a _________ for a _________?" Which pair of birds fills the blanks? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. In "Much Ado About Nothing", which character insults which other character in the following words: "Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher"? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. In "The Taming of the Shrew", Katharina (or Kate) is not only compared with that small, shrill, fierce rodent. Her husband, Petruchio, compares her with a number of birds of prey. Which one correctly fills the gap in this quotation: "Another way I have to man my ________, To make her come and know her keeper's call"? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Many refer to Shakespeare as the Swan of Avon, but poet Robert Greene, Shakespeare's contemporary, wrote of him as: "an upstart ________ beautified with our feathers". To which bird did Greene compare Shakespeare? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. In "Romeo and Juliet", the ill-fated couple have just spent their one and only night together and Romeo must flee into exile, or risk death if he is captured. Understandably, he is reluctant to leave Juliet and, as dawn approaches, tries to persuade her the bird she has heard singing is not beginning the dawn chorus, but is ... what kind of bird?

Answer: Nightingale

More tuneful than an owl, it is the romantic nightingale to which Romeo refers and which has, perhaps, serenaded the lovers during the night. Now, however, it is that early bird the lark which Juliet hears, but Romeo denies it. As far as I know, there were no canaries in the Capulet household!
2. Lady Macbeth claims: "The _______ himself is hoarse/That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan/Under my battlements." To which fateful bird does she allude?

Answer: Raven

Whilst any of the birds mentioned is capable of a fairly ear-splitting racket and might be found in the vicinity of a castle, the raven is, of course, traditionally a bird of ill-omen. Even it would be hard-put to utter sufficient warning to match Macbeth's evil wife's ill intent towards her kingly guest, whom she plans to murder. Note the possessive pronoun - her battlements, indeed! Macbeth might have something to say about that if he wasn't such a wimp. "Macbeth", bizarrely, is especially rich in bird references: besides raven, I've found house martin or swallow ("temple-haunting martlet"), owl ("obscure bird" plus several direct references), falcon, kites (and "hell-kite"), magpies ("magot-pies"), choughs, rooks, wren, chickens, loon (a kind of water-bird) and geese - a total of twelve different birds!
3. Which bird, according to a song in "The Winter's Tale", chants "tirra lirra"?

Answer: Lark

The rogue Autolycus sings this song, mentioning thrush and jay in the next line, and following the song with a proverbial reference to the thieving habits of kites, "When the kite builds, look to lesser linen" - in other words, these birds steal underwear (left outside on bushes to dry after being washed) to line their nests! Autolycus himself is, like the kite, an opportunist thief.
4. In the spring, when "daisies pied and violets blue" "do paint the meadows with delight", this bird "on every tree, his blithesome note sings merrily". In "Love's Labours Lost", this song mentions many birds but focuses primarily on which one?

Answer: cuckoo

This song also mentions in passing larks, turtles (no shells - not the amphibian but the turtle dove), jays and daws (i.e. jackdaws). It starts off sounding pretty idyllic but by verse two the cuckoo is mocking married men, suggesting their wives may be unfaithful and they are thus "cuckolds".

By the last couple of verses it's winter and the owl has taken over as the noisiest bird, reminding everyone of death no doubt. Another cheery little number!
5. In which of Shakespeare's plays does a jester's song about a "jolly robin" mock the plight of a miserable butler?

Answer: Twelfth Night

The jester is Feste, the butler Malvolio. Feste's friends have persuaded the Lady of the house, Olivia, that Malvolio is insane, whilst simultaneously convincing Malvolio that Olivia loves him. Neither fact is true. At this point in the play, Malvolio has been imprisoned in a "dark cell" outside which Feste (who bears a grudge against the unfortunate butler) sings: "Hey, robin, jolly robin,/Tell me how thy lady does./My lady is unkind, perdy./Alas! why is she so?/She loves another.

A miserable message from a cheerful bird!
6. A character in "Hamlet" - but which one? - makes the pretty random comment "They say the owl was a baker's daughter".

Answer: Ophelia

Surely only a mad person would confuse "bubo bubo" with the offspring of a pastry-cook! And surely Ophelia is the only character in this play who is absolutely insane ... Although Hamlet says some bizarre things ("very like a whale" ... "I know a hawk from a handsaw"? - hey, there's another bird reference!) and appears at times to have at least one screw loose, he claims to be pretending. Poor Ophelia confides this Owl assertion to Claudius, not long before she goes swimming for the last time.
7. A lover called Lysander switches his affection from one girl, Hermia, to another, Helena, exclaiming: "Who will not change a _________ for a _________?" Which pair of birds fills the blanks?

Answer: Raven/Dove

This is, of course, from "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Poor old Lysander's change of heart has been induced by Oberon's magic potion dropped on his eyelids whilst he slept, resulting in him perceiving his former darling Hermia as harsh-voiced, ungainly, ugly and unwanted, like the raven. Meanwhile, Helena (in whom he previously showed no romantic interest) becomes the epitome of gentleness in word, deed and looks, a dove. Fortunately (for Hermia, at least) the fairies eventually apply an antidote.

Incidentally, in the final act, during the famously hilarious play-within-a-play ineptly performed by Bottom the Weaver and his friends, Pyramus (the tragic hero played by Bottom) calls his lover Thisbe a "dainty duck". I don't think there are any chickens in the play, however - see "Macbeth" for a chicken reference.
8. In "Much Ado About Nothing", which character insults which other character in the following words: "Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher"?

Answer: Benedick/Beatrice

Famously, this couple have a "kind of merry war" of words - in which Beatrice wins most of the battles! Here Beatrice retorts that "A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours". Obviously, they were made for one another so it comes as no surprise when they fall for a pretty thin trick to make them fall in love; their friends make each believe the other is desperately in love with them.

Incidentally, if you like the band Mumford and Sons, you might have spotted that the song "Sigh No More" is packed with quotations from this play (no bird references though).
9. In "The Taming of the Shrew", Katharina (or Kate) is not only compared with that small, shrill, fierce rodent. Her husband, Petruchio, compares her with a number of birds of prey. Which one correctly fills the gap in this quotation: "Another way I have to man my ________, To make her come and know her keeper's call"?

Answer: Haggard

This soliloquy of Petruchio's shows extensive knowledge of the art of falconry. Whilst Petruchio also refers to Kate as a "falcon" in this speech and alludes to "kites", the use of the word "haggard" is especially interesting: it is a technical word for a bird of prey which has been captured fully grown (as opposed to being raised in captivity or taken from the wild as a juvenile) and reflects the added difficulty Petruchio has in getting Kate to change established patterns of behaviour.

His method of training her like a hawk involves sleep deprivation and food deprivation.

The only possible positive thing to note is that he doesn't make her suffer anything he doesn't also impose on himself!
10. Many refer to Shakespeare as the Swan of Avon, but poet Robert Greene, Shakespeare's contemporary, wrote of him as: "an upstart ________ beautified with our feathers". To which bird did Greene compare Shakespeare?

Answer: crow

Isn't jealousy a terrible thing! Greene himself was the author of the incredibly well-known play (okay, sarcasm is also a pretty poor device - the almost-forgotten play) "Friar Bungay and Friar Bacon". He is, sad to say, best known for the very tract from which this quotation was taken, and only because it was the first record of Shakespeare's growing renown as a man of the theatre, a playwright and a poet.

Its further references to "Tyger's heart wrapped in a player's hide" (alluding to a line from "Henry VI Part 3")and a "very Shake-Scene" firmly establish the object of his ire as Shakespeare even though he does not directly refer to him by name. Greene's pamphlet was called "A Groats-worth of Witte". You probably know that a groat was a very small coin indeed. Enough said, joke entirely on Greene!
Source: Author HobbitLady

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor looney_tunes before going online.
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