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An Averted Tragedy

Mr. Capen's Comparative World Literature Class
Quiz 1
Points possible: 50
NAME: Amanda McWilliams
Question 1 (5 points): Our class recently took a field trip to two alternate universes in which two of our world's most famous literary characters really exist. To travel to these universes, we ___.
A. quantum-phased
B. quantum-teleported
C. quantum-transported
D. quantum-wibble-wobbled
YOUR ANSWER: B
Score: 5
Teacher comments:
Question 2 (5 points): Why is it important for our class to be quantum-cloaked whenever we travel the multiverse?
YOUR ANSWER: So the people there don't see us.
Score: 1
Teacher comments: Your answer is incomplete. We must be quantum-cloaked so that none of the people we observe can see, hear, smell, touch, or taste us, and--just as important--so that we don't interact in any way with other multiverse travelers, or with ourselves if and when we return to the same universe to observe the same event.
Question 3 (5 points): Which two tragic heroes did we observe?
A. Sophocles' Achilles and Shakespeare's Hamlet
B. Sophocles' Ajax and Shakespeare's Macbeth
C. Euripides' Ajax and Shakespeare's Hamlet
D. Sophocles' Ajax and Shakespeare's Hamlet
YOUR ANSWER: D
Score: 5
Teacher comments:
Question 4 (5 points): What happens to people when we quantum-swap them?
A. Each person retains his or her original memories and personality
B. Each person retains his or her original memories but takes on the other's personality
C. Each person takes on the other's memories but retains his or her original personality
D. Each person takes on the other's memories and personality
YOUR ANSWER: C
Score: 5
Teacher comments:
Question 5 (5 points): Why did we quantum-swap our two tragic heroes?
YOUR ANSWER: So we could see how different they are in the different universes.
Score: 3
Teacher comments: More specifically, we quantum-swap tragic heroes so we can observe to what degree the environment itself, the tragic hero's world, makes that person tragic, as well as to discover to what extent each hero is a reflection of the aesthetic quality of his universe.
Question 6 (5 points): What happened to the tragic heroes in their respective original timelines before we quantum-swapped them? (Be specific.)
YOUR ANSWER: Ajax committed suicide because he lost a debate with Odysseus about who got to keep Achilles' armor. Hamlet missed his opportunity to kill Claudius, accidentally killed Polonius, and later died in a duel with Polonius' son Laertes.
Score: 5
Teacher comments:
Question 7 (5 points): What happened to the tragic heroes after we quantum-swapped them?
YOUR ANSWER: Hamlet convinced Lord Agamemnon to give him a rematch with Odysseus. A crowd of soldiers gathered around to hear what Hamlet/Ajax had to say now--but none of them expected what was about to happen. Hamlet gave his "to be or not to be" soliloquy and the crowd went silent. Odysseus just stood there with his mouth open but he couldn't speak. Then he started to shout about some god betraying Athena and helping Ajax. (I guess that god was us.) By unanimous decision, Hamlet won the armor. Odysseus was furious, but then he and Hamlet had a friendly debate and seemed to become friendly with each other.
Meanwhile, in the other universe, Ajax walked in on King Claudius kneeling and praying, and, in one quick motion, Ajax sliced the king's head off. Then he killed Polonius and fled the castle. He joined up with Fortinbras' army and marched with them as they conquered the land.
Score: 5
Teacher comments: Good observations.
Question 8 (5 points): In your opinion, were the quantum-swapped heroes still tragic in character? (Answer should be at least 50 words.)
YOUR ANSWER: No, because each man found a peace in the other's universe which had eluded him in his own. Hamlet was up to the challenge that Ajax had faced, and Ajax was just the avenging hero that the ghost of Hamlet's father had demanded him to be. Both men lived happily ever after in their new universes--until we swapped them again.
Score: 5
Teacher comments:
Question 9 (5 points): Why did we quantum-swap the heroes back to their own universes and restore their original timelines before we quantum-teleported ourselves back to the lecture hall in our own world?
A. Because we're cruel
B. Because we like watching people suffer
C. They were much happier in their original universes
D. It's the law
YOUR ANSWER: D
Score: 5
Teacher comments:
Question 10 (5 points): How did you feel seeing these tragic heroes in life? Did you experience what Aristotle called the tragic emotions of pity and terror?
YOUR ANSWER: Mostly I was just sad for them, even when they were happy in their new situations, because I knew we would have to send them to back to their own universes where they felt they didn't belong. It made me cry.
Score: 5
Teacher comments:
Extra credit question (2 points): What was it Polonius shouted after he witnessed Ajax cutting the king's head off?
YOUR ANSWER: "What, ho! Help! Help! Help!"
Score: 2
Total score: 46 points / 92% / A
"Hey, I got a B. Amanda, what did you get?"
"An A. I almost got a B, but that extra credit question saved me."
"Heh. Tragedy averted."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, April 10th, 2017

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