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Joe B.
EFL Teacher and English Literature Graduate
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Literature
TutorMe
Question:

The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical- comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited. Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men. - 'Hamlet' Act II, scene ii In this extract, how does Shakespeare use humour ?

Joe B.
Answer:

There are several humorous aspects to this extract. The most obvious is the damage it does to the already comical character of Polonious. The humor focuses around the idea of genres and the way in which they are often mixed in theatre. Polonious, attempting to assert the quality of the acting troupe, states that they are the best for all genre's of theatre. "Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor / Plautus too light" is a great compliment indeed, and the phrase "these are the only men" suggests that the actors must be the best in the world. The hyperbole is stark, in reality no acting troupe is capable of being the best in every theatrical genre, thus Polonius' praise of them only highlights his foolishness. Yet there is a darker side to this extract. Although it affirms the stupidity of Polonious through humour, it also serves as a tragic foreshadowing of his grim fate. Shakespeare clearly points out how theatrical genres can merge together, combining to such an extent that the lines between them disappear completely. The phrase "tragical-/comical-historical-pastoral" sounds ridiculous, particularly when spoken by Polonius the fool of the play, yet it contains truth. Shakespeare points out that a play can be both comical and tragic, 'Hamlet' being one example, it is considered a tragedy yet contains comical scenes and characters as shown in this extract. Genres, plays and their scenes become "individable", their characters multi-faceted. Not even the fool Polonious is a purely comical character. His demise and the demise of his children remind the audience that no comedy is safe from the tragic, no tragedy from the comic. In this extract Shakespeare asserts that genres are fluid and infinite in their combinations, and in the rest of the play he proves this assertion.

English as a Second Language
TutorMe
Question:

Read the following text about two brothers. Are the statements 'Right' or 'Wrong'? Circle the right answer. Something very strange was happening to Victor. He never knew that he had a twin brother until he started playing football! Victor was born in Russia, but when he was very small he got lost in a big shopping centre. He never found his parents so he was brought up in an orphanage, a special home for children who don't have parents. When Victor was twelve years old he moved to London. He also started playing football, which he enjoyed very much. One day when he was playing football a man waved at him. "Come on Barry!" he shouted. "But I'm not Barry," thought Victor. This happened to Victor several times, strangers kept calling him Barry. One day when a young girl called him Barry Victor said "but my name's not Barry, it's Victor." The girl replied, "Oh! But you look like my friend Barry from school. You have the same eyes, and the same ears, and the same nose! Is Barry your brother?" Victor said that he did not have any brothers, but he was interested in this boy Barry. "Where does Barry live?" he asked. "Come on I'll show you!" replied the girl. Victor and his new friend went to Barry's house, and Victor wrote a note and put it through the door. The note had Victor's address on it and Victor hoped that Barry would write to him. A few days later Victor got a letter from Barry, and they found out that they had the same birthday, they looked the same and both of them were from Russia. Barry and Victor were twin brothers!

Joe B.
Answer:

1) Victor and his brother were both born in Russia. - Right 2) Victor's parents left him in Russia with a friend. - Wrong 3) Barry wrote to Victor first. - Wrong 4) Victor always knew that he had a twin brother. - Wrong 5) People called Victor "Barry" lots of times. - Right

English
TutorMe
Question:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." - Jane Austen Explain how Austen creates irony of Pride and Prejudice in this opening line.

Joe B.
Answer:

The irony in this line stems from the first words. Austen immediately invokes the notion of universal truths and connects it to that of an unmarried man of good fortune. The idea that a man "must be in want of a wife' is a fallacy. One can neither assume a man's intentions with total certainty or take one rich man's desire for a wife to be indicative of every single and rich man in existence. The reader is aware of this as is Austen herself, an ironic joke is thus created at the expense of Austen's characters, particularly the marriage obsessed Mrs. Bennett, whom Austen is about to introduce. Therefore one of Austen's themes is immediately apparent. The reader can expect more of her playful ironic humor, something that is pervasive throughout the entire novel. As readers we are often privy to information the character's are not.

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