Get summary, textual solutions, questions, answers, notes. pdf, extras to the poem/chapter “The Frog and The Nightingale” by Vikram Seth which is a part of Class 10 English Literature Reader syllabus for students studying under Manipur Board (BSEM).
The poem opens by introducing a frog that lives in Bingle Bog. Every night, the frog would croak loudly and unpleasantly from dusk to dawn, much to the annoyance of the other creatures. The frog sings tonelessly from a sumac tree, unwilling to stop singing despite the creatures’ complaints and attempts to silence him with sticks and stones.
One night, a nightingale arrives and perches on the sumac tree under the moonlight. The nightingale sings a beautiful and melodious song, which captivates all the creatures of the bog. They are stunned into silence initially, then clap and cheer for her when she finishes. Even a lonely loon weeps upon hearing her moving melody. Emboldened by their admiration, the nightingale sings rapturously through the night without pause.
The next night, just as the nightingale is preparing to sing again, the frog interrupts and introduces himself arrogantly. He claims to own the tree she sits on, to be renowned in those parts for his splendid baritone voice, and to write occasionally for the Bog Trumpet magazine. When asked, the frog tells the nightingale that her song “lacked a certain force”. Flattered to receive feedback from such an esteemed critic, the humble nightingale brushes off his criticism good-naturedly since her song is her very own creation.
Sensing an opportunity, the manipulative frog offers to coach the nightingale to sing better for a fee. Lacking confidence, the nightingale eagerly accepts the frog’s tutelage, comparing him to the great Mozart. Under the frog’s guidance, the nightingale becomes an enormously popular sensation, drawing animals from miles around. The frog then starts organizing ticketed concerts and forcing the nightingale to rehearse for long hours without rest.
Overworked and depressed by the frog’s constant bullying about improving her performances to further boost his earnings, the nightingale loses her creative spirit. Her audiences, tired of her now uninspired songs, stop coming altogether. One night, his cruel demands finally take their toll – while attempting the impossible feats the frog insists upon, the nightingale overstrains herself and dies. Unrepentant, the frog falsely blames her oversensitivity and lack of self-confidence for her death. With his rival gone, the frog happily reclaims his place as the bog’s undisputed croaking champion.
Textual questions and answers
A. Based on your understanding of the poem tick the correct answer:
(a) The frog’s intention was to
Answer: exploit the nightingale to make money.
(b) The animals in the bog
Answer: admired and loved the nightingale’s song.
(c) The Nightingale
Answer: lacked self-confidence.
(d) Towards the end the nightingale no longer enjoyed her own singing because
Answer: she was used to appreciation and praise.
B. Answer the following questions in a sentence each:
(i) Did the animals in the bog enjoy the frog’s croakings?
Answer: No, the animals in the bog did not enjoy the frog’s croakings.
(ii) What did the solitary loon do after she had heard the nightingale’s song?
Answer: After hearing the nightingale’s song, the solitary loon wept.
(iii) How did the nightingale feel when the frog praised her after her first song in the bog?
Answer: The nightingale felt greatly flattered and impressed when the frog praised her after her first song in the bog.
(iv) The frog offered to train the nightingale. Why did he do so?
Answer: The frog offered to train the nightingale to exploit her for making money.
(v) “Though next morning it was raining.” Did the frog give the nightingale rest because it was raining?
Answer: No, the frog did not give the nightingale rest despite it raining.
(vi) Why did the frog advise the nightingale to add some trills to her song?
Answer: The frog advised the nightingale to add trills to her song to make it more appealing to the audience and to earn more money.
(vii) What happened to the nightingale at the end?
Answer: At the end, the nightingale, stressed by the frog’s demands, burst a vein and died.
C. Answer the following questions briefly:
i. What did the frog do every night at Bingle Bay?
Answer: Every night at Bingle Bay, the frog croaked in an unpleasant and persistent manner.
ii. ‘So the nightingale once more. Quite unused to such applause. Sang till dawn without a pause.’ Write why the nightingale behaved so.
Answer: The nightingale sang till dawn without a pause because it was unaccustomed to the applause it received and was excited by this newfound admiration.
iii. How did the frog introduce himself?
Answer: The frog introduced himself as the owner of the tree where the nightingale perched and as a renowned singer and writer for the ‘Bog Trumpet.’
iv. “Did you….did you like my song?” How did the frog react to the nightingale’s question?
Answer: When the nightingale asked if the frog liked its song, the frog responded by saying the song was not bad but too long, had fine technique but lacked force.
v. How did the nightingale feel flattered and impressed?
Answer: The nightingale felt flattered and impressed when the frog, presented as a critic and a seasoned musician, discussed its art and singing technique.
vi. How did the frog manipulate the nightingale to bring the nightingale under his control?
Answer: The frog manipulated the nightingale by flattering its singing abilities, offering to train it to sing better, and asserting his superiority and experience in music.
(vii) “This is a fairy-tale. And you are Mozart in disguise. Come to earth before my eyes.” Explain why the nightingale said so.
Answer: The nightingale said this to the frog, believing it to be a great musician like Mozart, because it was naive and easily influenced by the frog’s deceptive flattery.
(viii) How did the frog commercially exploit the nightingale?
Answer: The frog commercially exploited the nightingale by organizing concerts, charging admission fees from the audience, and making the nightingale perform relentlessly.
(ix) The frog did not allow the nightingale to rest even in rain. What does it tell about his character?
Answer: The frog’s refusal to allow the nightingale rest even in the rain reveals his relentless, exploitative, and unsympathetic nature.
(x) “Every day the frog would sold her. Songs for silver tried to scold her:” How did the frog scold her?
Answer: The frog scolded the nightingale by critiquing its singing, demanding more practice, and insisting on changes to make the performances more commercially successful.
(xi) Why did the birds and beasts grow tired?
Answer: The birds and beasts grew tired because the nightingale’s song became mechanical and uninspired due to continuous and stressful rehearsals and performances.
(xii) Why was the frog who’d sold her angry?
Answer: The frog was angry because the nightingale’s performances no longer attracted audiences, leading to a decline in his earnings from the concerts.
(xiii) How did the nightingale die?
Answer: The nightingale died from stress and physical strain imposed by the frog’s relentless demands, culminating in the bursting of a vein during a forceful performance.
A. You may have noted that the story of the frog and the nightingale is not at all a story of a frog and a nightingale. Actually, each of them is a representation of human characters in the modern world of commercialization of arts. Commercialisation of arts (actually everything has been commercialised) has given rise to a situation in which the meek and the innocent talents are exploited by ruthless businessmen.
In the light of this background, fill in the two columns given below with the words/phrases applicable to the two characters:
|subject to flattery
B. Make a list of alliterative words found in the poem:
- “foghorn of the frog” – The ‘f’ sound is repeated.
- “night nightingale” – The ‘n’ sound is repeated.
- “Toads teals tiddlers” – The ‘t’ sound is repeated.
- “Next night”, “twitched her tail” – The ‘n’ and ‘t’ sounds are repeated respectively.
- “bad – but” – The ‘b’ sound is repeated.
- “Now the nightingale” – The ‘n’ sound is repeated.
- “He began her” – The ‘h’ sound is repeated.
- “scarf and sash” – The ‘s’ sound is repeated.
- “she was shivering” – The ‘sh’ sound is repeated.
- “subdued and sleep”, “Mallard and Milady” – The ‘s’ and ‘m’ sounds are repeated respectively.
- “Songs for silver”, “second song” – The ‘s’ sound is repeated.
- “must make”, “better billings” – The ‘m’ and ‘b’ sounds are repeated respectively.
- “birds and beasts” – The ‘b’ sound is repeated.
- “more morose” – The ‘m’ sound is repeated.
- “Brainless bird” – The ‘b’ sound is repeated.
- “Trembling terrified” – The ‘t’ sound is repeated.
- “tried to teach”, “too tense”, “she should” – The ‘t’ and ‘sh’ sounds are repeated respectively.
Think and write
A. In our present world people like the frog take advantage of the unsophisticated but talented ones like the nightingale for the purpose of making money. Justify the above statement in the present day scenario of commercialisation of arts, music, films etc. Write a paragraph on it.
Answer: In the current world, the commercialization of arts, music, and films has created an environment where individuals like the frog, who are cunning and opportunistic, exploit the talented yet naïve individuals like the nightingale. This exploitation is primarily for monetary gains. In various artistic fields, there are instances where inexperienced but gifted artists are manipulated by those who are more astute in the business aspects of the industry. These opportunists capitalise on the talents of these artists, often guiding them towards paths that may not align with their artistic integrity or personal aspirations. The end goal for these manipulators is financial profit, often at the expense of the true artistic expression and well-being of the artists they exploit. This scenario mirrors the dynamics between the frog and the nightingale, where the frog, despite being less talented, takes advantage of the nightingale’s abilities for his own benefit, pushing her towards her eventual demise.
B. At the end the nightingale dies in her effort to keep up the level of success. Do you think the end is correct? Write a few lines justifying your answer.
Answer: The end of the nightingale’s story, though tragic, serves as a poignant and cautionary tale. It highlights the detrimental effects of succumbing to external pressures and losing one’s sense of self in the pursuit of success and validation. The nightingale, in her attempt to maintain her success and please the frog, loses her originality, joy, and ultimately her life. This ending emphasises the importance of self-belief and the dangers of allowing oneself to be excessively influenced by others, especially those with ulterior motives. It serves as a reminder that true success lies in staying true to oneself and one’s talents, rather than conforming to others’ expectations at the cost of personal authenticity and well-being.
I just read the tragic story of the nightingale’s death at the hands of the cunning frog. While reading, I kept hoping the nightingale would realize the frog’s exploitative intentions and fly away to safety. However, her trusting nature and lack of confidence led to her downfall.
I can’t help feeling that the nightingale was doomed from the moment she allowed the frog into her life. She was too innocent to see through his flattery and greed. His increasingly unreasonable demands wore her down physically and emotionally. By the end, her spirit was completely broken.
So was her death inevitable? Perhaps not, if only she had believed in her own talent instead of seeking validation from the jealous frog. If only she had recognized the toxic nature of his criticism and manipulation before it was too late. She had the gift of sublime song within her all along. How I wish she had found the courage to nurture that gift on her own terms, instead of surrendering it to the whims of a tyrant!
Even though the nightingale could not save herself, I hope her tragedy serves as a cautionary tale. May it remind other vulnerable artists to stay true to their vision, and refuse to let cruel critics dim their light. The frogs of the world should never be allowed to silence beautiful voices. The nightingale’s song deserved so much better than the bitter end it met. If only, if only…
Extra/additional questions and answers/solutions
1. What kind of voice and singing style did the frog have?
Answer: The frog had an unpleasant, loud, croaking voice which all the other creatures in the bog hated. His singing style is described as a “crass cacophony” suggesting it was insensitive anddiscordant.
19. Did you sympathise more with the frog or the nightingale? Why?
Answer: Most readers would sympathise more with the nightingale as she was innocent, got sincerely happy sharing her song and only wanted appreciation while the frog had ulterior motives, used her talent callously for money and caused her death without regret making him utterly unlikable. The nightingale was the helpless victim here.
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