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Answer Key and Suggested Answers to Discussion Questions for
Learning Guide to SWAN LAKE



Answer Key to Comprehension Test/Homework Assignment


1.  How does Von Rothbart control Odette? Suggested Response: With a magic spell.

2.  What is the relationship between Von Rothbart and Odile? Suggested Response: He is her father. She is his daughter.

3.  What weapon does Siegfried try to use when he goes hunting in the forest? Suggested Response: A cross-bow.

4.  What is the purpose of the ball at which Siegfried meets Odile? Suggested Response: To find a suitable mate for the prince.

5.  What happens at the end of the ballet? Suggested Response: Odette forgives Siegfried, they jump into the lake to break Von Rothbart's spell, and they are reunited in the afterlife.


6.  Which character grows and learns something in this story and what does he or she learn? Suggested Response: Siegfried learns that a woman who is very attractive and entrancing may, in fact, be false and lead him away from his true love.

7.  What was the most beautiful thing about this ballet? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer to this question. Good answers will make reference to specific movements and scenes.

8.  Many people believe that the dancing of Odette (the White Swan) describes some essential qualities of the feminine. Did you have that feeling? How would you describe it? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer to this question. A good answer will include concepts such as gracefulness, delicacy, vulnerability and compassion.

9.  Describe the movements that you thought were most swan-like. Suggested Response: There is no one correct response to this question. Possible answers include: the arm movements in which the arms move like wings or when the ballerina sits down and bends forward with her arms in front of her.

10.  What is the difference between a "symbol" and a "metaphor"? Suggested Response: A metaphor is a comparison of one thing with another by equating attributes of a dissimilar thing to the thing described. An example from the Odyssey is the term "rosy fingered dawn" or "wine-dark sea". A symbol stands for something else while keeping its own identity. In "Swan Lake", Odette stands for true love and Odile is a symbol of the false love that a man can feel for a glamorous but heartless woman.

11.  Odette is a symbol but there is also something about her which is metaphorical, what is it? Suggested Response: Odette's movements as the White Swan are a metaphor attributing the beauty and grace of a swan to a woman.

12.  Why does an effective symbol usually lead to an apt metaphor? Suggested Response: With a good symbol there is a connection between the symbol and what is being represented so that the symbol is evocative of the thing for which it stands. This evocative connection can be turned into a metaphor. Thus, in the example of the flower discussed in the Helpful Background section, the fact that the flower itself is beautiful and vibrant evokes the happy times in the subject's life. It is therefore a effective symbol.

13.  Describe two themes of "Swan Lake" and how they are expressed in the ballet. Suggested Response: See Helpful Background section.

14.  What is it about "Swan Lake" that places it in the tradition of Romantic ballet? Name three things. Suggested Response: It idealizes the wild and natural over the constraints of society. It emphasizes the yearning for love. One character is a sorcerer who casts spells on women making them into swans.

Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


1.   At the ball, Siegfried becomes infatuated with Odile. Either he mistakenly thought she was Odette or he was just taken with the glamour of Odile. Either way, in the heat of the moment he didn't check carefully enough or he abandoned his love for Odette. As a result he swore his love for Odile and betrayed Odette. What does this tell you about infatuation and overwhelmingly strong feelings of attraction? Suggested Response: They can often mislead us and before we act on them, they should be tempered with time and reflection.

Last updated April 5, 2008.

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