Between the Acts Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What does title suggest is the relationship between collective history and individual history?

    Taking place all within a single day on the very precipice of the outbreak of a second World War in the span of a couple of decades, “between the acts” can easily be interpreted as referring to that span of time between worldwide engagement on the battlefield. Although the percentage of the global population which actively took part in wars on the battlefield represents a fractional minority, it is more than fair to say that the entire rest of the population of planet was impacted to one degree or another by the wars which bookend the brief enjoyment of relative peace.

    The story persistently makes the connection between performance on the stage as merely a mirror of the “performance” of real life. Those taking part in the pageant are impacted by the collective “act” but in the sections focusing on what occurs “between” those acts it also becomes apparent that real life is impacted by the pageantry as well. What happens to society on a collective level trickles down to the individual level even when there is no direct connection or correlation.

  2. 2

    How does the description of the proposed site for the new cesspool fit into the thematic construction of sweeping historical events impacting individual lives?

    The site chosen for the cesspool-to-be is notably described using historical terminology suggestion of great sweeping tidal periods in British history. It will be built on a road constructed by the Romans during the height of their empire. Later the land became the property upon which a manor house was born during one of the most famous epochal historical eras ever named: the Elizabethan period. And still later, the hill was ploughed for the purpose of growing wheat to keep the bellies of soldiers full during the Napoleonic Wars. Those forces of history have led inexorably to a utilization of the land which most equitably shared for individual purposes while also making a corrosively ironic statement about how lives “between the acts” are impacted by the consequences of those “acts.”

  3. 3

    What assertion made by Bartholomew early on is so utterly platitudinous as to be unworthy of notice only ultimately be revealed as insidious foreshadowing?

    As preparations reach a manic state in advance of the much-hyped pageant, a few characters are discussing the aesthetic worthiness of the pageant’s director, Miss La Trobe. Isabella notes that she is so intensely involved that everyone is called upon to do something. To which Bartholomew adds, “Our part is to be the audience. And a very important part too.” At the time, there is nothing to indicate that Bartholomew’s meaning goes so much as a step beyond the hackneyed expressions of the same theatrical concept of the audience being just as important as the players to the success of any stage production only because without the audience, why would the players perform at all? In reality, however, the audience will turn out to be just as essential to the La Trobe’s directorial conceptualization as the players once the effect of bringing out the mirrors and turning the reflective surfaces upon those watching is engaged.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.