The Lion in Winter Short Essay - Answer Key

Anthony Harvey
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1. About what is this play?

This play places several historical characters, principally King Henry II of England and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, into the fictionalized context of a family gathering at Christmas and dramatizes the personal and political conflicts that result. In a series of wittily written confrontations, the characters manipulate each other like pieces on a chessboard, constantly seeking weaknesses in each other and jockeying for advantage. By the end of the play the situation is the same as when it started--nothing has been resolved, but everybody, including the audience, has enjoyed the game.

2. Where does the first scene take place? According to Henry, what is a futile gesture that Alais makes?

The first scene takes place in the bedchamber of Henry's mistress, Alais (Alice). As Alais tries on a small crown, Henry tells her she's making a futile gesture and tells her to hurry.

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