DQ: Second Shepherd’s Play

Featured Image from Folger Library 2016 Production


Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Second Shepherd’s Play

1.What’s the gist of Coll’s opening complaint?

2. Describe the verse structure. What are some instances in which the verse structure reinforces the content of the speeches?

3. Who is Coll talking about in line 40? Why is this man taking away all his stuff?

4. What are some of Gib’s complaints against marriage? What does Gib’s wife look like?

5. What con-job does Mak try to pull to steel the sheep initially?What is Coll’s reaction to Mak’s potential acting career? (I.e., where does he tell him to stick his fake southern accent?)

6. How frequently does Mak’s wife Gill give birth according to lines 347 and following?

7. Why does Mak draw a circle on the ground around the sleeping shepherds? What is he trying to do? What does Mak steal from the Shepherds as they sleep? How does this symbolically connect to the Christmas story?

8. What excuse does Mak give to leave the shepherds and return to his wife? (i.e., what does he say he saw in a dream as he slept?

9. Where do Gill and Mak hide their future dinner? How does that symbolically connect to the Christmas story?

10. When the shepherds “inform” Mak that one of their sheep has been stolen, Mak claims, “Had I been thore, / Some should have bought it full sore.” How is this funny or ironic?

11. Gill vows to the shepherds, “If ever I you beguiled, / That I eat this child / That lies in this cradill.” Why is this funny or ironic?

12. Explain how all these jokes about eating the child connect with the Christian ritual of eucharist or communion.

13. Coll, Gib, and Daw leave Mak’s house completely tricked. What do they realize as they leave that gives them the desire to go back? (What have they overlooked doing earlier that they now want to do out of generosity?

14. When Daw bends down to kiss Mak’s child, what about the “child” gives away its real identity?

15. How does Mak try to talk his way out of the problem in lines 867-68 and 882-84? How does Gill try to talk her way out of the situation after that?

16. After talking about burning Gill alive or cutting off Mak’s head, what punishment does the group settle on for Mak? Lecture Question: What was this activity associated with in the medieval period?

17. Who or what appears with good news after the shepherds lie down?

18. After receiving this message, Gib, Daw and Coll discuss the way the messenger sang, and they try to “croon” and imitate it? How is this symbolic?

19. Gib turns out to be something of a bible scholar. What does he connect with the angelic message in terms of prophecy?

20. How do themes of animal, gender, and work translate from Greek comedy & tragedy into the Medieval mystery tradition?