Travesties Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Describe the scene at the beginning of the play.

The play opens in the Zurich library in 1917. At various locations are Lenin, James Joyce, and Tristan Tzara. Lenin dictates his work on imperialism to Cecily, the librarian. Joyce, likewise, is dictating Ulysses to Gwendolen. Tzara is in the process of clipping words from a book, dropping them in a hat, and drawing them out to form poems.

2. How do Gwendolen and Cecily mishandle their folders in the beginning of the play?

Gwendolen, working as Joyce's assistant in this scene, has a folder with chapter of Ulysses; Cecily, as Lenin's assistant, has a folder with part of his book. The folders are similar, and at one point the two women inadvertently trade folders with each other.

3. Describe Henry Carr as he enters the play.

Henry Carr, as he enters the play, is very old. He is well-spoken but deeply confused about his memories of Zurich. As such, he bombastically expounds on grand characterizations of historical significance, but he cannot keep his facts straight and often reaches stumbling points in his monologue.

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