Conundrum: Five for Five

Last week’s Conundrum about kings named Henry reminded me of a Shakespeare final I gave about five years ago. This was for an advanced graduate course on Shakespeare, and I actually decided to give the final exam as a takehome. What’s more, the first five questions were True or False. Surprisingly, only two students got all five questions right. Sounds like quite a Conundrum to me…


1. Twelfth Night is named after a holiday in December.

2. Gloucester (in King Lear) has two sons; the bastard one is named Edmund.

3. Katherine of Valois was wife to Henry V, mother to Henry VI, and grandmother to Henry VII.

4. Based on evidence in Hamlet, it is reasonable to assume that Shakespeare may have read at least some of the writings of Sigmund Freud.

5. The title of The Merchant of Venice refers to a Jewish merchant named Shylock.

I should point out that the five questions combined were ten percent of an exam that was ten percent of the final grade, so these questions alone were not enough to affect anyone’s final grade. I don’t believe in trying to trick students, but I felt that a takehome exam deserved a little extra bite. The rest of the exam was short answer and essay and was very straightforward.

Can anyone answer all five questions correctly?

One Response to “Conundrum: Five for Five”

  1. Shakespeare Teacher » Blog Archive » The Wager Says:

    [...] course on Shakespeare, and I chose to give my final exam as a take-home. The questions included true/false, short answer, extended response, and one long [...]

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