Monday 15 April 2024

Class 10 English (Comm.): Poem | The Frog and the Nightingale | Vikram Seth | Summary and Question and Answers |#eduvictors

The Frog and the Nightingale

By: Vikram Seth

Class 10 English (Comm.): Poem | The Frog and the Nightingale | Vikram Seth | Summary and Question and Answers |#eduvictors


The poem tells the story of a boastful frog and a talented nightingale. Every night, the frog sings terribly, much to the annoyance of the other creatures in the bog. One night, a beautiful song fills the air – it's the nightingale singing for the first time. The frog is awestruck by her song.

The creatures are captivated by the nightingale's melody, cheering her on. The frog, however, sees an opportunity. He convinces the nightingale that her singing is good but lacks proper training. He offers to be her teacher for a fee. The trusting nightingale agrees.

The frog then bullies the nightingale into singing all night, claiming it's necessary for improvement. He pockets the money earned from the mesmerized creatures, all the while criticizing the nightingale's singing. The poem ends with the nightingale, exhausted and miserable, forced to sing continuously under the frog's manipulation.

Q1: Describe the first meeting between the nightingale and the frog.

Answer: The poem starts with the frog's usual croaking, and then the nightingale begins to sing. We can infer that the nightingale is new to the bog, and her song is a surprise to everyone, including the frog. The poem suggests the frog is initially struck by the nightingale's beautiful voice.

Q2. How did the frog benefit from the nightingale's song?

Answer: The frog benefited from the nightingale's song in two deceitful ways:

Financial Gain: The frog saw the nightingale's popularity as a money-making opportunity. He convinced her she needed training and charged her a fee to be her teacher. Additionally, he started charging the other creatures an admission fee to hear the nightingale sing, lining his pockets with their appreciation.

Regaining Attention:  The poem portrays the frog as someone who enjoys being the centre of attention in the bog. The nightingale's superior singing likely made the frog feel overshadowed. By manipulating her into singing under his "tutelage," he regained some control and a sense of importance.

Q3. By citing examples from the poem, prove that the nightingale was a simple and foolish bird.

The poem by Vikram Seth portrays the nightingale's trusting nature and lack of experience rather than outright foolishness. However, some examples suggest her simplicity:

Naive Trust in the Frog's Expertise: Despite having a naturally beautiful voice, the nightingale is easily convinced by the arrogant frog that her singing needs improvement.  The poem doesn't mention the nightingale questioning the frog's own poor singing ability, highlighting a lack of critical thinking.

"The frog, whose voice was croaking loud and harsh, / Considered this a point he had to stress."

Blind Faith in the Training: The nightingale readily agrees to the frog's harsh training regime, even though it involves singing all night and receiving constant criticism. This suggests a lack of experience or knowledge about vocal training methods.

"The gullible bird, by flattery made vain, / Agreed to every test."

Ignoring the Warning Signs: As the nightingale becomes exhausted and her song loses its magic, there's no mention of her questioning the frog's methods or seeking outside opinions. This suggests a certain simplicity in trusting the initial authority figure.

It's important to note that the poem criticizes the situation where genuine talent is exploited by someone who takes advantage of another's trusting nature. The nightingale's simplicity makes her vulnerable, but it doesn't diminish the beauty of her song.

Q4. Identify the poetic devices and metaphors used in the poem.

The poem "The Frog and the Nightingale" by Vikram Seth uses several poetic devices and metaphors. Here's a breakdown of some of them:

Poetic Devices:

Alliteration: Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words close together.
"Croaked away in Bingle Bog" (B's)
"Dumbstruck sat the gaping frog" (D's and G's)
"Bravo! Too divine! Encore!" (B's and D's)

Onomatopoeia: Words that imitate the sounds they describe.
"Croaked awn and awn and awn"
"Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash!"

Personification: Giving human qualities to non-human things.
"The frog… minstrelled on till morning night"
"The whole admiring bog… Stared towards the sumac"
"Animals for miles around… Flocked towards the magic sound"

Simile: Comparing two things using "like" or "as."
"The frog… replied. 'Yes,' the frog replied, 'You see, I'm the frog who owns this tree. In this bog I've long been known For my splendid baritone'" (compares the frog's voice to a baritone singer)

Metaphor: Directly stating that one thing is something else, without using "like" or "as." (There aren't many clear metaphors in this poem)

Metaphors (possible interpretations):

The Sumac Tree: This could be a metaphor for the stage or platform where the nightingale performs.

The Frog as a Critic: The way the frog critiques and exploits the nightingale can be seen as a metaphor for manipulative figures in the arts who prey on talent.

The Nightingale's Song: The nightingale's beautiful song could be a metaphor for true artistic expression that is eventually stifled by commercial pressures.

Question: Write your impression of the frog in the poem.

Answer: The poem paints the frog as a deeply unlikeable character. He's arrogant, believing his awful croaking is superior. He's jealous and threatened by the nightingale's talent.  Most damningly, he's manipulative and exploitative.  He cons the trusting nightingale into believing he's a qualified teacher, then uses her for his own financial gain.  He pushes her relentlessly, destroying her beautiful song and ultimately her life.  The poem suggests the frog is a buffoon/clown, hiding his own mediocrity behind boasts and "artful" pronouncements like "Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash!"

Question: What message does the poet Vikram Seth try to convey throughout the poem "The Frog and the Nightingale". Write in 75-100 words.

Answer: In "The Frog and the Nightingale," Seth criticizes the exploitation of talent. The trusting nightingale's beautiful song is manipulated by the boastful frog for his own gain.  Her unique voice is crushed under pressure to conform, ultimately leading to her demise. The poem suggests valuing one's own gifts and warns against manipulative figures who stifle true artistry.

Question: Support the view that the creatures of Bingle Bog liked the nightingale's singing. 

Answer: The poem offers strong evidence the creatures adored the nightingale's song. Their initial reaction is clear: "The whole admiring bog / Stared towards the sumac, rapt."  Even more demonstrative is their enthusiastic response: "Ducks had swum and herons waded / To her as she serenaded... Toads and teals and tiddlers...cheered on, enraptured: / 'Bravo!' 'Too divine!' 'Encore!'" This collective praise and attentiveness leave no doubt the nightingale's singing brought joy to the bog.

Question: What are the different ways in which the frog asserts his importance? Answer in 75-100 words.

Answer: The frog asserts his importance in several ways:

Ownership: He claims to own the sumac tree, the nightingale's performance space.

Musical Expertise: He boasts of his own "splendid baritone" and his role as a critic for the "Bog Trumpet."

Training and Authority: He positions himself as a qualified teacher, charging the nightingale for his "training."

Control of the Show: He takes charge of ticket sales, profiting from the nightingale's talent.

Question: Why is the frog's joy both sweet and bitter?

Answer: The frog's joy in "The Frog and the Nightingale" is both sweet and bitter because of his conflicting emotions:


Financial Gain: He profits handsomely from the nightingale's singing, charging her for lessons and collecting admission fees from the audience.

Regained Attention: The nightingale's popularity likely replaces the annoyance his own croaking caused. He might feel like the centre of attention again by controlling her performance.


Jealousy: Deep down, the frog lacks the nightingale's natural talent. Her success might sting with envy despite the financial gain.

Insecurity: The poem hints at the frog's need for external validation. His joy might be tainted by the knowledge that the crowd admires the nightingale, not his own abilities.

Therefore, the frog's joy is a complex mix of satisfaction from money and a power trip, overshadowed by underlying jealousy and insecurity.

Question: What was the frog’s ulterior motive in making the nightingale add fills and trills to her songs? 

Answer: The frog's ulterior motive in making the nightingale add fills and trills to her songs likely wasn't purely artistic. Here are two reasons why:

Appeal to a Wider Audience: The poem mentions the frog suggesting the nightingale's song lacked "a certain force" and needed "more trills."  These additions might be aimed at making the song more flashy and crowd-pleasing. This could attract a larger audience, leading to more ticket sales and ultimately more money for the frog.

Control and Manipulation:  The technical demands of mastering trills and fills could be a way for the frog to exert control over the nightingale.  By keeping her focused on technical aspects, he diverts her attention from her natural, beautiful style. This makes her more reliant on him and weakens her own artistic voice. This control allows the frog to manipulate her performance for his own benefit.

Question: Contradict the fact that the nightingale did not deserve the frog’s wrath.

Answer: While the poem portrays the nightingale as a victim, there's an argument to be made that she wasn't entirely blameless for the frog's wrath:

Naive Trust: The nightingale readily accepts the arrogant frog's criticism and questionable training methods.  A more critical or experienced singer might have questioned his expertise or sought alternative opinions.

Over-reliance: The nightingale becomes overly dependent on the frog's approval and training.  She prioritizes his judgment over her own intuition and loses touch with her natural style.

These points suggest a certain naivety that makes her vulnerable to the frog's manipulation. It doesn't justify his cruelty, but it adds a layer of complexity to the story.

Question: Bring out the irony in the frog's statement - 'Your song must be your own'

Answer: The irony in the frog's statement "Your song must be your own" is multifaceted:

Hypocrisy: Throughout the poem, the frog actively works to destroy the nightingale's unique song. He criticizes her natural style, pushes her to conform to a crowd-pleasing formula, and ultimately crushes her original voice.  By saying her song "must be her own," he contradicts his own actions.

False Authority: The frog has no real qualifications to judge or improve the nightingale's singing. He himself is a terrible singer, relying on stolen attention and manipulation.  His claim to authority on what constitutes an "own song" is completely unfounded.

Self-serving Motive: The frog likely wants the nightingale's song to be "her own" only insofar as it benefits him. He wants her to conform to a style that brings in more money and keeps him in control. True ownership of her voice, which would involve artistic freedom, is exactly what he takes away.

The statement "Your song must be your own" is a cruel twist as it comes from the very one who stole her voice. It highlights the manipulative nature of the frog and the tragedy of the nightingale's lost talent.

Question: What was the purpose of the poet to end the poem in this manner? Can you suggest a different ending? 

Answer: The poem ends with the frog's boastful croaking reclaiming the bog, emphasizing his victory and the nightingale's silencing. This stark ending reinforces the themes of exploitation and the loss of true artistry. It leaves a bitter taste, prompting reflection on the vulnerability of talent and the dangers of manipulation.

A different ending could offer a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the other creatures, realizing the nightingale's demise, could confront the frog or seek out her song elsewhere. This wouldn't erase the tragedy, but it would suggest that the value of her voice isn't entirely lost.

Question: Do you think the nightingale is 'brainless'? Give reasons for your answer. Answer in one paragraph of 100-120 words

Answer: The poem portrays the nightingale as trusting and lacking experience, not brainless.  She possesses a naturally beautiful song, a talent requiring some level of skill.  However, her trusting nature makes her vulnerable.  She readily accepts the self-proclaimed expertise of a terrible singer and doesn't critically evaluate his methods. This suggests a lack of experience in the world, not a lack of intelligence. The poem criticizes the exploitation of genuine talent by those who take advantage of trusting natures.

Question: Despite having a melodious voice and being a crowd-puller, the nightingale turns out to be a loser and dies. How far is she responsible for her own downfall? Answer in one paragraph of 100-120 words

Answer: The nightingale shares some responsibility for her downfall. Her trusting nature blinds her to the frog's manipulative tactics. She lacks scepticism, readily accepting the unqualified frog's harsh criticism and gruelling training. Additionally, she prioritizes the frog's approval over her own intuition, losing touch with her natural style. However, the poem places more blame on the manipulative frog. The nightingale's talent is undeniable, and her dependence on the self-proclaimed expert stems from her lack of experience in navigating the world, not a lack of intelligence. The poem criticizes the vulnerability of genuine talent to those who exploit it, suggesting the nightingale is more victim than villain in her tragic demise.

Question: Do you agree with the Frog's inference of Nightingale's character? Give
reasons for your answer.

Answer: No, I don't agree with the Frog's inference of the Nightingale's character. Here's why:

Nightingale's Talent: The poem clearly establishes Nightingale's natural gift for beautiful singing. This suggests an inherent artistic ability, not the lack of talent the Frog implies.

Naive Trust: The Nightingale's gullibility in trusting the boastful Frog exposes her lack of experience or a critical eye, not an inherent flaw in her character.
Manipulation: The Frog actively exploits the Nightingale's trust. He preys on her desire for improvement and her lack of experience in the world.

Loss of Self: The Nightingale's artistic decline is a result of the Frog's manipulation, not a lack of character.

Frog's Bias: The Frog's judgment is clouded by jealousy of the Nightingale's natural talent. His perception of her character is likely skewed by his own shortcomings.

The poem highlights the dangers of manipulation and the vulnerability of trusting someone who takes advantage of that trust. The Nightingale's downfall is a result of a complex situation, not a reflection of a flawed character.

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