Q1. The nightingale was foolish and could be exploited. Explain in 100-125 words. [C.B.S.E., 2011 (T-1)]
Ans : The nightingale had a typical temperament of an artist. She was very musical and her melody not only earned her great appreciation but also made some creatures cry. The crowd of her concerts consisted of some with titles and creatures from far also flocked to listen to her. She quickly became addicted to their praise but lacked acute business sense. She was not practical or worldly wise and got very foolishly trapped by the clever frog. She never realised that he was making money and cheating her. She never saw through his manipulations that he wanted her to overexert. He criticised her needlessly and made her lose confidence. So it was the nightingale’s fault to succumb to the clever frog’s tricks. She never realised her own interest and welfare till the end. Her end was inevitable.
Q2. The frog was too boastful and conceited. The nightingale was too modest and unaware of her latent talent. The frog was insensitive to public reaction. The nightingale thrived solely on public adulation. Compare and contrast the singing of the frog with that of the nightingale in the light of the above statements.
Ans : The frog was conceited and self-centred. He sang loudly, brashly all through the night, thus disturbing all the creatures of the Bingle Bog. The frog was rude, arrogant and too boastful. The bog-creatures were so fed up that they prayed, resorted to beating but nothing could stop his irritating and noisy singing. The frog basically lived and sang to please himself. He was egoistic and self-centred.
In contrast the nightingale was too sensitive and polite. She was innocent and very gullible. Despite being an excellent singer, she loses confidence because of the frog. So she is an artist who has no confidence in herself and needs others to either boost her morale or break it. The nightingale was most pleasant and the frog was most irritating and unmusical.
Q3. Vikram Seth has used irony and symbols with great dexterity in the poem ‘The Frog and the Nightingale.’ Discuss by giving examples.
Ans : The poet has incorporated a large variety of meanings beneath the emotional storyline. The poem is allegorical in nature for the frog is a symbol of very clever and manipulative people who exploit young artists and abort their careers. The nightingale represents true and innocent artists who are taken for a ride by the people like frog in the guise of organisers who harm the blooming careers of great ‘geniuses’ in the making. It is ironical that nightingale enchants and pleases everyone, but does not understand her own strength or talent. The poet also highlights the importance of public applause and the importance of blooming careers. It is ironical that many times a good talent is nipped in the bud, like that of the nightingale.
Q4. How did the Frog break the nightingale’s spirit and destroy her? (100 to 125 words)
Ans : The frog wanted to be the undisputed king of Bingle Bog. He sang to his delight and could not stand any kind of rivalry. Even though he was hated by all but there was no one to compete with. He is extremely passionate about his loud and unmusical voice and has an exaggerated opinion about himself. When the nightingale arrives, she mesmerises everyone with her politeness and musical voice. The frog senses competition. So he forcibly becomes her tutor and mentor and strategically plans, not only to finish her career but also to end her life. He makes her sing in rough weather, endlessly and advises her to exert more and more. As a result, the nightingale succumbs to pressure and the frog emerges as the king of Bingle Bog again.
Q5. Do you think that ‘The Frog and the Nightingale’ is a humorous poem or a tragic one? Give arguments to support your answer.
Ans : The basic storyline of the poem is humorous. The poet has added lot of humorous touches like the pun of words like “owl of Sandwich” etc. The frog’s exaggerated opinion of himself is really funny and the fact that he is compared to ‘Mozart’, a great musician, is quite hilarious. There are bits of humour here and there but the message and essence of the story is tragic. The poem is a tragic tale of a great singer whose flourishing and thriving career is ended prematurely. The nightingale is too innocent, too gullible and her succumbing to her death is a masterstroke of great tragedy. Her end arouses sympathy for her and hatred for such conniving cheats who exploit natural talent and destroy it for their own selfish interests.
SOME IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
Q1. Why does the frog persist in singing though no one in the bog wishes to hear him?
Ans. The frog is too conceited and has an exaggerated opinion of himself as a singer. He thinks that his voice is a ‘splendid baritone’. He wishes to remain the unrivalled singer of the bog. The frog is loud and most unmusical. All the creatures of the bog tried all the tricks to drive him away. But the frog is too thick-skinned and continues to sing his ‘crass cacophony’ from the sumac tree. The frog was so passionate about his singing that hewould sing incessantly from evening till morning light. This was his way of expressing his heart-felt joy, he claimed. The frog is a hypocrite, who only lives for himself. He is least concerned for the discomfort he is causing to others.
Q2. Do you think the nightingale was responsible for her own exploitation? Why/Why not? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. The nightingale is a singing ‘genius’ but she is not worldly-wise. Her serenade in the bingle bog leaves the creatures mesmerised but she does not have the foresight or the cleverness to cash upon her asset. She knows that she is a great sensation for the bog music lovers but gets exploited by the manipulative frog. The frog makes her practise again and again, exhausts her and she loses her star status. The nightingale is too vulnerable and becomes susceptible to fan following. She is a poor judge of psychology and does not see through the frog’s clever plans. So she ends up paying with her life. Her end is a great tragedy, a sad culmination of an unfulfilled artist, who dies prematurely.
Q3. What does the poet wish to convey in the poem ‘The Frog and the Nightingale’?
Ans. This is an allegorical poem by Vikram Seth and reveals a deeper meaning beneath the emotional story line. The frog is a living symbol of cunning and conniving people, while the nightingale represents innocence and vulnerability to the extreme. Artists like the frog are shams without substance and thrive on the misfortune of others. They are loathed, hated and have little worth themselves, so they derive sadistic pleasure in tormenting and exploiting others. Naturally talented singers are sometimes not worldly-wise, so they fall prey to scheming ‘touts’.
The poet ridicules such music organisers who mint money by cheating and exploiting others. There is a hint of satire evident, when the poet talks about money making people, who make false promises and destroy natural talent.
The poet also highlights the significance of public adulation in the life of an artist like the nightingale. She is innocent to praise and admiration but gradually, she also becomes addicted to it. So it can be said that even modest artists wish to perform before power-packed audience and the jingle of cash-counters gives them an emotional high.
The poet concludes that success is a game like tugo f- war, in which the clever survive and the innocent and vulnerable succumb to bitter defeat.