Get notes, line-by-line explanation, summary, questions and answers, critical analysis, word meanings, extras, and pdf of the poem “The Glove and the Lions” by Leigh Hunt which is part of ICSE Class 10 English (Treasure Chest: A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories). However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
The poem opens with a description of King Francis, who is watching his lions fighting in an arena for sport. The king sits above the arena, surrounded by nobles and elegant ladies. Among the nobles is Count de Lorge, who longingly signs for one particular lady there.
The narrator describes the scene as a gallant spectacle, with the brave king presiding over the fierce lions battling below. The lions rampage and roar, viciously biting and clawing at one another in a frenzied fight. Bloody foam flies from their mouths over the barricades enclosing the pit. Amused by the violence, King Francis comments that the spectators are better off watching from their seats than down in the pit.
The lady whom Count de Lorge desires overhears the king’s remark. She is described as strikingly beautiful, with an unchanging smile and bright, intelligent eyes. Confidently believing her lover De Lorge to be the bravest man, she decides to test his love and win glory for herself. With the king, nobles, and ladies looking on, she drops her glove into the lion’s pit, challenging De Lorge to retrieve it.
De Lorge bows to the lady, then jumps into the midst of the raging lions. Quickly and nimbly he leaps back out, glove in hand. But rather than gently return the glove to prove his love, he angrily throws it right in the lady’s face. King Francis approves of De Lorge’s reaction, declaring that it was not true love, but the lady’s vanity and pride that led her to set such a dangerous challenge. The poem ends with the king’s pronouncement on the situation.
In summary, the poem tells the story of a lady who arrogantly tests her lover’s bravery by throwing her glove into a lion pit. But when he succeeds in the challenge and angrily throws the glove back at her, the king praises the lover and condemns the lady’s pride and vanity. The vivid imagery and surprising twist reveal the flaws underlying the spectacle of chivalry and romance.
Line-by-line explanation of the poem
King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport,
This first line introduces us right away to King Francis, describing him vividly as a lively, vigorous, and energetic king who took delight in royal sporting events and games. The word “hearty” paints a picture of a king full of vitality and enthusiasm.
And one day as his lions fought, sat looking on the court;
One day, as part of his enjoyment of royal entertainments, King Francis was observing his own lions fighting fiercely and ferociously in an arena or enclosed court. The line reveals that the king kept lions for violent sport and spectacle, sitting safely above the action as the powerful beasts battled below.
The nobles filled the benches, and the ladies in their pride,
The arena was filled with nobles and aristocrats sitting in raised benches above the fighting pit, and elegant ladies dressed in their finest, most ornate gowns and jewels, exhibiting their status and pride.
And ‘mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sighed:
Among the assembled nobles was the Count de Lorge, who had eyes only for one particular lady there, sighing longingly for the woman he desired.
And truly ’twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show,
It was truly a noble and magnificent spectacle, the height of royal entertainment, to witness the king presiding over this thrilling animal combat.
Valour and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.
The scene embodied ideals of chivalry and romance – bravery and love, with the king holding court above while the fierce royal beasts battled below.
Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;
The lions prowled and roared aggressively, their terrible, gaping mouths stretched wide as if laughing horribly and maliciously.
They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws;
Savagely the lions bit and locked their jaws, glaring fiercely, striking mighty blows with their paws that swiped as powerfully and swiftly as beams of wind.
With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another;
With immense, crushing power and muffled, choked roars, the lions wrestled, grappled, and forcefully rolled over each other.
Till all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother;
Until the fighting pit was filled with flying sand and tangled manes in a deafening, chaotic turmoil.
The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;
The bloody foam from the lions’ mouths sprayed through the air over the pit’s barricades.
Said Francis then, “Faith, gentlemen, we’re better here than there.”
Seeing the violent spectacle, King Francis remarked humorously to his noble audience that they were safer observing from their seats than down in the pit with the ferocious beasts.
De Lorge’s love o’erheard the King, a beauteous lively dame
The lady whom De Lorge pined for, a strikingly beautiful and spirited woman, overheard the king’s wry comment.
With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seemed the same;
She had smiling, inviting lips and piercing, intelligent eyes which always appeared unchanged, constantly sparkling and alluring.
She thought, the Count my lover is brave as brave can be;
She thought assuredly that her lover, the Count de Lorge, was as courageous and daring as any man could possibly be.
He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me;
She was confident he would carry out remarkable, incredible deeds to demonstrate the depth of his devotion and adoration for her.
King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;
With the king, ladies of the court, and admirers all observing intently, she realised the perfect, almost providential opportunity before her.
I’ll drop my glove, to prove his love; great glory will be mine.
She decided she would drop her glove into the lion’s den as a challenge to the Count, to prove the strength of his chivalric love for her – and in doing so, she would gain enormous honour and renown.
She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
So she daringly dropped her glove into the pit, turning to the Count with a confident, anticipatory smile, having set out to test the depths of his devotion.
He bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild:
The Count bowed gracefully to the lady, then instantly, unhesitatingly jumped down into the pit, recklessly casting himself into the midst of the wild, vicious lions.
The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regained his place,
Just as rapidly as he had leapt in, the Count leapt back out of the pit, with extraordinary deftness and agility returning to stand again before the noble crowd.
Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady’s face.
But rather than tenderly returning her glove as a token of his love, he spitefully, violently threw it right in her face in front of all.
“By God!” said Francis, “rightly done!” and he rose from where he sat:
“By God!” exclaimed King Francis, approving of the Count’s shocking action, “That was the right thing to do!” And he stood up dramatically from his royal seat.
“No love,” quoth he, “but vanity, sets love a task like that.”
“It was not true love,” declared the king, “but vanity and pride that set a challenge like that, when love itself was at stake.”
hearty: lively, vigorous, energetic
court: enclosed arena for sports and spectacles
nobles: aristocrats, members of the highest social class
benches: raised, tiered seats around an arena
pride: vanity, haughtiness, satisfaction in status
sighed: longed, pined, yearned
gallant: noble, chivalrous, dignified
crowning: ultimate, preeminent
show: spectacle, display, entertainment
valour: courage, bravery, boldness in battle
ramped: prowled, stalked aggressively
roared: yelled ferociously at high volume
horrid: terrifying, dreadful, causing horror
jaws: mouths, snouts, openings of mouth
glared: stared angrily and intensely
beams: rays, shafts of light
paws: animal feet with claws
wallowing: rolling, thrashing around
might: power, immense strength
stifled: muffled, choked, suppressed
smother: chaotic mix, turmoil
bars: barricades, railings
whisking: spraying, scattering rapidly
quoth: said, spoke
vanity: excessive pride, self-importance
About the author
Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) was a prominent Romantic-era writer, poet, essayist, critic and journalist who lived during the same time period as the famous Romantic poets Keats, Byron and Shelley. Hunt is known for his evocative descriptions, lyrical verse, appreciation of nature, and mastery of atmosphere and mood in his writing.
As an influential journalist, Hunt was also one of the most outspoken defenders of liberties during the age of the French Revolution.
The poem “The Glove and the Lions” by Hunt is a humorous narrative set in mediaeval times when concepts of valour and chivalry were idealised. Through the story, Hunt gently pokes fun at the notion of men feeling they must perpetually “prove” their masculine courage to the women they admire.
With its playful tone and lyrical language, the poem is meant to be enjoyed for its poetic beauty and gentle humour, rather than interpreted as conveying a serious moral lesson or message. Hunt invites readers to delight in the world and characters he brings to life through vivid details, rather than looking for deeper meaning or instruction underneath the charming mediaeval tale.
Additional/Extra questions and answers
1. Who was watching the lions fight?
Answer: King Francis was watching the lions fight. He is described as a “hearty king” who loved these kinds of royal sporting events and spectacles. As the lions battled in the arena below, King Francis sat above observing the violent entertainment, surrounded by his assembled nobles and elegant ladies.
2. What was the atmosphere like in the arena where the lion fight took place?
Answer: The arena was filled with nobles and aristocrats sitting elevated on benches above the fighting pit, and elegant ladies dressed ornately to exhibit their pride and status. There was likely a sense of anticipation and thrill in the crowd as they waited for the spectacle of violence to unfold before them, with King Francis grandly presiding over the event. The nobles and ladies probably chattered excitedly as the lion pit filled with the sounds of aggressive roars and smothered growls, building a tense, dramatic atmosphere.
3. How did the lady react after seeing her lover retrieve her glove from the lion pit?
Answer: Rather than expressing love or appreciation when her lover Count de Lorge successfully retrieved her glove from the lion pit, the lady reacted with shocked outrage when he angrily threw the glove back in her face. This reaction revealed her arrogance and selfish motives in setting such a dangerous challenge, as she cared more about glory for herself than the safety of her purported beloved. Her indignance at his response exposed her vain priorities.
4. In what ways does the poet create a vivid sense of drama and tension throughout the poem?
Answer: The poet uses powerful imagery and vivid language to create a dramatic, tense atmosphere. Phrases like “horrid laughing jaws”, “bloody foam”, and “thunderous smother” paint a scene of animalistic violence and chaos. The sounds of “ramped and roared” lions convey the aural sensations of the fight. Active, aggressive verbs like “bit”, “glared”, “rolling” animate the vicious lion battle. Short lines and caesura create a choppy, tense rhythm. The stakes heighten as the lady throws her glove into the pit, testing her lover’s courage. The surprise twist at the end provides dramatic irony revealing the lady’s arrogance.
5. How does the poem explore contrasts between appearances and reality in relation to courage, love, nobility and pride?
Answer: On the surface, the story portrays ideals of courage, love and nobility through aristocratic spectacle. But subtler ironies and darker notes critique hollow appearances. The lavish setting masks selfish motivations, as both lady and lover manipulate romance for pride. De Lorge’s dignified retrieval of the glove proves a superficial gesture when he petulantly tosses it back. The king’s approval of that spite reveals faulty assumptions behind chivalry. The lion fight’s brutality contrasts with its gallant staging. So while honouring nobility outwardly, the deeper reality exposes vain, reckless, violent traits contradicting virtuous appearances.
6. Who was Count de Lorge longing for?
Answer: Count de Lorge was longing for and sighing over a particular lady who was present in the audience observing the lion fight spectacle.
7. What was King Francis’ reaction when De Lorge threw the glove back at the lady?
Answer: When De Lorge spitefully threw the lady’s glove back in her face, King Francis approved of his action, standing up and declaring “By God! rightly done!”. The king praised De Lorge’s indignant response, agreeing that the lady’s vain challenge warranted such retaliation.
8. What does the depiction of the nobles observing the violent lion fight suggest about their character?
Answer: The detached, entertained manner in which the elegantly dressed nobles watched the gory lion combat implies a kind of ethical emptiness and dehumanisation among the privileged upper class. Their fascination with the brutal spectacle and King Francis’ casual attitude about danger reveal a bored, reckless decadence and thirst for petty thrills among the elite.
9. Discuss how the ironic twist conclusion of the poem serves as a critique of superficial values around courage, honour and love.
Answer: The ironic reveal that the lady’s challenge was meant to test love rather than courage highlights the superficiality of her gesture, and the hollow chivalry it was based on. The king’s approval of De Lorge’s indignant reaction further implies flawed assumptions around honour. Ultimately the irony exposes the falsity and selfish pride underlying acts meant to embody higher ideals. The characters’ focus on appearances, reputation and glory over mutual understanding reveals the problematic values underlying aristocratic chivalric society.
10. What aspect of the lady’s appearance does the poet draw attention to?
Answer: The poet places emphasis on the lady’s constant, alluring smile and her sharp, bright eyes, highlighting her confident beauty and captivating gaze.
11. How does the poem’s rhythmic structure contribute to its dramatic impact?
Answer: The poem’s use of abrupt caesura, short compressed lines, and staccato phrases creates tension when depicting the lions’ vicious battle. This halting rhythm evokes the unpredictable, erratic movements of the thrashing lions. The pace slows and punctuation chops up the verse, mirroring the animals’ fierce clashes. This rhythmic disruption adds drama and uncertainty, amplifying the fierce, chaotic brutality.
12. What motivated the lady to throw her glove into the lion pit?
Answer: The lady was motivated by arrogance and selfish pride to throw her glove into the lion pit. She wanted to prove the depth of her lover’s devotion to her by making him face mortal danger to retrieve her glove. Her aim was to win glory and honour for herself through this gesture, rather than out of concern for her lover’s safety. She used the spectacle to gratify her own ego.
13. How does the poem critique empty displays of nobility, courage, and honour amongst the aristocratic class?
Answer: Although the story outwardly depicts noble courage and honour, the irony exposes this as an empty facade. The king’s detached oversight of gory combat highlights the elite’s numbness to violence. The lover’s dignified retrieval of the glove is undercut by his cruel reaction, underscoring the falsity of chivalric love. The lady’s arrogant motives reveal the vainglory behind her challenge. Together these ironies critique the superficial expectations of valour and etiquette that override empathy and ethics in aristocratic society.
14. Who decided to drop her glove in the lion pit?
Answer: The lady whom Count de Lorge desired decided she would drop her glove into the lion pit.
15. Why did the lady think her lover Count de Lorge was brave?
Answer: The lady thought Count de Lorge was incredibly brave because of her absolute faith and confidence in his courage, which she believed was as great as any man could possibly be.
16. What do the reactions of De Lorge and King Francis reveal about them?
Answer: De Lorge’s petulant, vengeful reaction in throwing the glove in the lady’s face reveals his bitterness and wounded masculinity and pride. King Francis’ approval of this act shows his own superficial sense of manly bravado, caring more about a bold show or display rather than deeper virtue. Their reactions ultimately reveal the flaws and hollowness underlying their chivalric ideals.
17. How does the poem build up dramatic tension leading to the lady’s challenge?
Answer: The elaborately described setting and characters establish an atmosphere rife with underlying drama before the challenge. Details about the opulent nobles, De Lorge’s longing, and the lions’ violence all subtly foreground the lady’s imminent risky action. The lavish staging depicts a scene steeped in reckless thrill-seeking and ego, heightening the tension around the challenge.
18. Discuss how irony and reversals in the conclusion critique the values of chivalry and courtly love.
Answer: The twist reveals the lady’s arrogant motives, ironically undermining conventions of courtly romance. Her pridefulness is punished rather than honoured through love, subverting chivalric ideals. De Lorge’s dignified retrieval of the glove is nullified by his spiteful reaction, satirising hollow male valour. The king’s approval of De Lorge’s petulance further highlights the flawed masculine pride behind chivalry. Through these ironic reversals, the poem ultimately critiques the vain selfishness and brutality that lie beneath chivalric facades.
19. Who bowed before leaping into the lion pit?
Answer: Count de Lorge bowed gracefully before the lady before leaping into the lion pit to retrieve her glove.
20. How did Count de Lorge react after he returned from the lion pit?
Answer: Instead of gently returning the lady’s glove as a token of love, Count de Lorge reacted spitefully by hurling the glove violently in her face, full of indignant bitterness.
21. What critique of the nobility does the poem suggest through its depiction of the lavish, violent spectacle?
Answer: The nobles’ glamorous attire contrasted with their detached observation of gory combat suggests an ethical emptiness and dehumanisation among the elite class. Their thirst for such thrills implies a reckless decadence, using their privileges irresponsibly without compassion. Overall, it critiques the nobles’ superficiality and trivial pursuits, contrasting their elegant appearance with underlying ethical flaws.
22. How does the use of vivid imagery and figurative language add to the impact and atmosphere of the poem?
Answer: Vivid imagery like “bloody foam” and figurative language like “blows like beams” create visceral, dramatic sensations to transport the reader. The metaphors make the lion’s deadly force palpable. Visual details like tangled manes convey chaotic thrashing. These powerful images allow the reader to visualise and feel the scene, drawing them into the atmosphere of violence and tension at the heart of the poem. The vividness makes the action gripping and emotionally affecting.
23. In what ways does the poem combine elements of the chivalric code with subtle ironies and critiques of courtly society?
Answer: On the surface, the story of the lady’s challenge draws on conventions of mediaeval chivalry and courtly romance. Yet subtle ironies undermine these ideals, as when the lover spurns decorum by throwing back the glove, revealing the flawed masculine pride behind courtly gestures. The lady’s arrogant motives for her challenge uncover the empty vanity of courtly games of romance. So while using chivalric tropes, the poet ultimately critiques the brutality, superficiality and hollowness of aristocratic society through layered ironies and reversals.
24. What was the atmosphere like watching the lions fight?
Answer: The nobles and ladies watched the lion fight intently, likely chatting excitedly as the roars built tension. King Francis presided over this thrilling spectacle, where the audience expected entertainment from the violent combat below.
25. Why did the lady drop her glove in the pit?
Answer: The lady arrogantly dropped her glove to test her lover’s devotion. She wanted him to prove his courage by facing the lions, so she could gain status through his bravery.
26. How did the lady react to getting her glove thrown back?
Answer: The lady reacted with shocked outrage when her lover spitefully threw her glove back instead of gently returning it. This exposed her selfish motives in her challenge.
27. What does the lover throwing back the glove reveal about his character?
Answer: The lover throwing back the glove spitefully rather than with love reveals his bitterness and wounded masculine pride. His reaction exposes flawed chivalric assumptions.
28. How does the poem critique superficial values of the upper class?
Answer: The poem critiques the upper class through details like the king’s casual view of violence and the lady’s arrogant challenge. Their focus on reputation over empathy reveals ethical emptiness beneath elegant appearances.
29. How did the lions behave in the fighting pit?
Answer: The lions rampaged and roared aggressively in the fighting pit, viciously biting and clawing at one another. They wrestled forcefully, filling the arena with flying sand and tangled manes in a deafening, chaotic frenzy.
1. What is King Francis described as at the start of the poem?
A. A serious king B. A friendly king C. A hearty king D. A weary king
Answer: C. A hearty king
2. What were the lions doing in the arena?
A. Sleeping B. Playing C. Fighting D. Feeding
Answer: C. Fighting
3. Who was sitting amongst the nobles assembled?
A. Count de Lorge B. The lady C. King Francis D. The lion keeper
Answer: A. Count de Lorge
4. What did the lady decide to do to prove her lover’s devotion?
A. Sing him a song B. Bake him a cake C. Drop her glove into the pit D. Blow him a kiss
Answer: C. Drop her glove into the pit
5. How did Count de Lorge initially react when the lady dropped her glove?
A. He bowed to her B. He scolded her C. He ran away D. He blew her a kiss
Answer: A. He bowed to her
6. What did Count de Lorge do after emerging from the lion pit?
A. Returned the glove gently B. Threw the glove at the lady C. Kissed the lady’s hand D. Curtsied to the lady
Answer: B. Threw the glove at the lady
7. How did King Francis respond when De Lorge threw the glove back?
A. He condemned De Lorge B. He challenged De Lorge to a duel C. He approved of De Lorge’s action D. He reprimanded the lady
Answer: C. He approved of De Lorge’s action
8. What motivated the lady to throw her glove in the lion pit?
A. Anger at De Lorge B. A desire to clean her glove C. Vanity and pride D. Love for De Lorge
Answer: C. Vanity and pride
9. How does the poet create dramatic tension in the poem?
A. With humor B. With serene imagery C. With vivid language D. With optimistic tone
Answer: C. With vivid language
10. What happened when the lions fought in the pit?
A. They purred and napped B. They wagged their tails C. They rampaged in a frenzy D. They nibbled delicately
Answer: C. They rampaged in a frenzy
11. Why were the nobles and ladies assembled to watch the fight?
A. For ethical observation B. For educational purposes C. For thrilling entertainment D. For lion conservation awareness
Answer: C. For thrilling entertainment
12. What aspect of the lady is emphasised by the poet?
A. Her intellect B. Her grace C. Her smile D. Her attire
Answer: C. Her smile
13. What is Count de Lorge’s motivation revealed to be?
A. Love B. Bravery C. Duty D. Wounded pride
Answer: D. Wounded pride
14. How does the poem critique superficial values?
A. By praising compassion B. By promoting patience C. Through ironic twists D. Through optimistic tones
Answer: C. Through ironic twists
15. What was the atmosphere like in the arena?
A. Sleepy B. Graceful C. Dramatic tension D. Relaxing
Answer: C. Dramatic tension
16. Why were the ladies dressed ornately?
A. To attract suitors B. To show status C. For warmth D. For fashion
Answer: B. To show status
17. What does King Francis’ reaction reveal?
A. His wisdom B. His apathy C. His courage D. His cruelty
Answer: B. His apathy
18. How does the poem explore appearances vs reality?
A. By praising truth B. Through subtle ironies C. Through obvious metaphors D. Through optimistic language
Answer: B. Through subtle ironies
19. What imagery conveys the violence of the lion fight?
A. Blood and gore B. Garlands and flowers C. Light and rainbows D. Perfumes and doves
Answer: A. Blood and gore
20. What aspect of rhythm builds dramatic tension?
A. Sonorous melodies B. Smooth, flowing lines C. Abrupt caesura D. Rhyming couplets
Answer: C. Abrupt caesura
21. What does the lady’s arrogant challenge critique?
A. Timidity B. Recklessness C. Compassion D. Honor
Answer: B. Recklessness
22. Why does the lover throw back the glove angrily?
A. For revenge B. For love C. For duty D. For vanity
Answer: A. For revenge
23. What is ironic about the lady’s motive for her challenge?
A. It was about pride rather than love B. It was to humiliate her lover C. It was to test the king D. It was to anger the lions
Answer: A. It was about pride rather than love
24. What do the caesura and short lines evoke about the lion fight?
A. Calmness B. Frailty C. Unpredictability D. Harbor
Answer: C. Unpredictability
25. How does the king’s approval of De Lorge reveal flawed assumptions?
A. By critiquing cowardice B. By praising courage C. By valuing bravado over empathy D. By condemning deception
Answer: C. By valuing bravado over empathy
26. What does the ornate imagery of the nobles contrast with?
A. Poverty B. Wisdom C. Brutality D. Honor
Answer: C. Brutality
27. What poetic device is used in “ramped and roared”?
A. Rhythm B. Alliteration C. Consonance D. Assonance
Answer: B. Alliteration
28. What does the lady’s vanity lead her to overlook?
A. Her lover’s feelings B. Her gloves size C. Her hair D. Her purse
Answer: A. Her lover’s feelings
29. What theme does the poem critique?
A. Isolation B. Technology C. Superficiality D. Change
Answer: C. Superficiality
30. Why does the poet describe the lions’ “horrid laughing jaws”?
A. For comedy B. For horror C. For cuteness D. For clarity
Answer: B. For horror
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