Tamilnadu State Board Class 9 English Solutions Poem Chapter 4 The Spider and the Fly
A. Read the following lines from the poem and answer the questions in a sentence or two.
The Spider and the Fly Questions and Answer Question 1. “The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve many curious things to show when you are there ”
How to reach the spider’s parlour.
The spider’s parlour can be reached through a winding stair.
What will the fly get to see in the parlour?
The fly will get to see many curious things in the parlour.
2. “Oh no, no, ” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see! ”
Is the fly willing to enter the spider’s pantry?
No. The fly is not willing to enter the spider’s pantry.
Can you guess what was in the pantry?
Only remains of dead flies may be found in the pantry.
3. “Sweet creature! ” said the Spider, “You ’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!”
List the words used by the spider to describe the fly.
The Spider and the Fly Workbook Answer:
Sweet, witty, wise, handsome, gauzy, brilliant.
Why does the spider say that the fly is witty?
The spider calls the fly witty because the fly is clever to avoid entering the web.
4. The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
Why is the poet using the word ‘den’ to describe the spider’s web?
The spider is like a lion in its web. So the poet uses the word.
Why was the spider sure that the fly would come back again?
The spider has flattered the fly of its beauty, so he was sure it would come back again.
With buzzy wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue-
Who does’she’refer to? ON)
She refers to the fly.
What was’she’thinking of? 0
She was thinking of her beautiful eyes and the colours of her wings.
6. And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne ’er give heed:
Who does ‘I’ refer to?
I refers to the poet.
What is the advice given to the readers?
The poet advises us not to fall a prey to flattery and sweet words.
Poem Comprehension and Poetic Devices Additional Questions
1. ‘Will you walk into my parlour? ” said the spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
Whose parlour is the prettiest?
The spider’s parlour is the prettiest.
Who does the spider ask to walk into his parlour?
The spider asks the fly to walk into his parlour.
2. “Oh, no, no, ” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
can never come down gain
What will happen to those who go up the spider’s winding stair?
The Spider and the Fly Poem Questions and Answer:
They can never come down again.
What do you mean by the word ‘vain’?
‘Vain’ means useless.
3. “Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head;
How does the spider describe the beauty of fly’s wings?
The spider says that the wings ware pearl and silvery.
Whose robes are green and purple?
The fly’s robes are green and purple.
What is the poetic device used in the first line?
Repetition is used here. ‘Hither, hither’ are the words repeated together for emphasis’.
4. “Sweet creature! ” said the Spider, “you ’re witty and you ’re wise,
Name tire poetic device in this line.
Spider and the Fly Question Answer:
Alliteration is used here.
you’re – you’re; witty – wise; sweet – spider.
5. ‘How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes! ’ .
What is the poetic device used here?
Anaphora. Repetition of the word, “how” at the beginning of two successive phrases.
B. Complete the summary by Ailing in the spaces with suitable words.
The poem begins with the spider’s pursuit of the fly. He chats to the fly to come into its home. The spider describes his parlour as the prettiest one. The spider kindles the curiosity of the fly so that she may enter his home. Fortunately, the fly was witty and refused to get into his home. Now the spider pretends to be a host and asks her to come and rest in his home. He offers her food and a bed to rest. This time also the fly declines the spider’s offer very politely. The next weapon that the spider uses is flattery. The spider praises the wings and eyes of the fly and also praises her wisdom. He invites her to look at herself in the mirror which is in his parlour. The fly is tempted by the words of the spider and she falls a prey to her flattery.
C. Answer the following questions in about 80-100 words.
Write a character sketch of the spider.
This poem takes us through a spider’s ultimately successful attempts in enticing a fly into its web. The spider is cunning in capturing its victim. It ensnares the fly through the use of seduction and flattery. In stanza one, it does its best to trap the fly into its parlour with the promises of pretty things to see. Next, it tries a different tactics, offering the fly a pretty and a comfortable place to sleep, and lovely food. Finally, it tries to flatter the fly by praising its beauty and traps the fly into his den.
The Spider and the Fly Isc Question 2. What happens if we fall a prey to flattery? Give instances from the poem ‘The Spider and the Fly’.
If we fall a prey to flattery, we have to face evil consequences, just like the fly who falls a prey to the spider’s flattery and seduction. The spider uses different tactics to entice the fly into its web. It invites the fly into its parlour with the promises of pretty things to see. When the fly refuses, it entices him by offering a pretty, comfortable bed and lovely food. When the fly refuses again, finally it flatters the fly for its beautiful appearance. The fly gets flattered and gets trapped into its den. This poem teaches us that we should be cautious against those who use flattery and charm to disguise their true evil intentions.
The Spider and the Fly Question 3.
In your own words, give a detailed description of:
a) The Spider’s Parlour.
The Spider’s Parlour had winding stairs. It is the prettiest parlour that had ever been seen by the fly. It has been filled with many pretty things, which would arouse the curiosity of the fly. There are also pretty curtains, whose sheets are fine and thin. It had a pretty and a comfortable bed.
b) The Fly’s Appearance
The fly had gauzy wings and brilliant eyes. But the spider flattered it saying that it had pearl and silver wings, green and purple body and its antenna is like a crown on him.
Paragraph : Additional Question
The Spider and the Fly Mind Map Question 1.
How does the spider entice the fly?
In the beginning, the spider entices the fly into its parlour with the promise of pretty things to see. Next it tries a different tactic, offering the fly a pretty and a comfortable place to sleep. Then it asks the fly how can it prove its warm affection towards the fly. So it comes forward to offer him good food. When the fly refuses all these, then it tries to trap him by flattering him by praising his appearance. The fly gets trapped at its flattery and never comes out again.
‘Tht spider was sura that the fly will coma to his den.1 Why did he think so?
Spider and the Fly Poem Questions and Answer:
The spider makes some attempts to entice the fly into its web. It invites him to its parlour, promising to show curious things. It offers a comfortable place to sleep and good food to eat. But the fly refuses all these things. At last, the spider uses a powerful weapon of flattering the fly. It praises its wings, eyes, and robes. It invites him to look at his beauty in its mirror. The fly gets flattered but refuses to go in, assuring that he will come another day. This made the spider to analyze that the silly fly would soon come back again. It comes back to its den, getting mesmerized by the wily sweet talk of the spider and falls a prey to it.
Appreciating the Poem
Figures of Speech
1. Consonance : Repetition of similar consonant sounds in the neighbouring words. It is used to refer to the repetition of sounds at the end of the word, but also refers to repeated sounds in the middle of a word.
T’is the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy; – repetition of the “t, ” and “r” sounds.
Pick out one more instance of consonance from the poem.
- The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, – repetition of the “r ” sound.
- For who goes up your winding stair – repetition of the “r ” sound.
- To idle, silly flattering words, – repetition of the “l” sound.
2. Assonance : Repetition of similar vowel sounds in the neighbouring words.
T’is the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy; – repetition of the “i ” sounds.
Pick out one more instance from the poem.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; – repetition of the “aw” sounds.
3. Anaphora : Repetition of a word or a phrase at the beginning of a sequence of sentences, paragraphs and lines.
(e.g.): How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes! – repetition of the word “how” at the beginning of two successive phrases.
Identify the figures of speech.
“Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead! ”
Simile (spider’s eyes are compared with diamond, using the word “like”)
4. Alliteration : Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words.
Pick out the words in alliteration.
“Sweet creature! ” said the Spider, “You ’re witty and you ’re wise, ”
“Sweet – Spider; witty – wise”
Please note the difference among Consonance, Assonance and Alliteration :
Consonance is used to refer to the repetition of consonant sounds at the end of the word, but also refers to repeated sounds in the middle of a word.
Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound in the middle of a word.
Alliteration, is the repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of a word.
D. Listen to the passage and tilt in the blanks with appropriate answers.
Without trust there is no ________.
relationship at all
_________ is a very rare thing to find in life.
When people betray you learn from the _______.
Dont’t let ______ on the road _________.
small bumps, throw you back
If we keep moving forward you will have a wonderfully _______.
E. The cunning spider was waiting for a chance to pull the fly into its web and it used all the possible ways to trap her. Have you ever been trapped by flattery to do something you did not want to do? Discuss in pairs and share your experience in the class.
My classmate tried to flatter me to make her project done by me. She praised my hand writing and my brilliant ideas that I had put into my project. She urged me to give the same ideas and help her to complete the project as early as possible. She tried to entice me by flattering me as much as possible. But I didn’t fall into her trap, and avoided her, as I had to finish my project on the very same day.
F. The fly gives into flattery and becomes the spider’s prey. If you are asked to give a happy ending to the poem, how will you save the fly? Write in your own words.
If the fly had kept listening to her inner sense, it would have been safe and not have fallen a prey to the spider. The fly begins to refuse the spider’s offers initially. But it gets trapped finally, when the spider flatters it. If it had not been carried away by the , spider’s seduction and flattery, it could have been saved. It would have been cautious and escaped from the spider’s enticing web without getting trapped at all.
The Spider and the Fly Textual Activities
If your little brother or sister does not like to eat any of these following vegetables,
- how will you make him or her eat them?
- what are all the flattering or tempting words you might use to convince them?
- work in pairs and enact that moment in front of your classmates.
If my little brother or sister does not like vegetables, I will threaten with frightening stories and tnake him/her eat. I will also tell them that veggies will keep us beautiful, strong and look like heroes, etc.
The Spider and the Fly About the Author
Mary Howitt (12 March 1799 – 30 January 1888) was an English poet. She was born at Coleford, in Gloucestershire. Their Queen Anne house is now known as Howitt Place. Mary Botham was educated at home, and read widely; she commenced writing verses at a very early age. She married William Howitt and began a career of joint authorship with him. Together with her husband, she wrote over 180 books. Their literary productions at first consisted chiefly of poetical and other contributions to annuals and periodicals, of which a selection was published in 1827 under the title of The Desolation ofEyam and other Poems.
William and Mary mixed with many important literary figures of the day including Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. On moving to Esher in 1837, she commenced writing her well-known tales for children, a long series of books which met with signal success. Mary Howitt has double-fame in the realm of Children’s literature. She was the first English translator of Hans Christian Andersen.
The Spider and the Fly Summary
‘The Spider and the Fly’ is a poem by Mary Howitt (1799-1888), published in 1828.This is a funny little serious piece in the vein of the spider sense. The poem takes us through a spider’s ultimately successful attempts in enticing a fly into its web. Now, if only that fly would have kept listening to her ‘spider sense’, it would have been safe and not have fallen a prey.
- This poem tells the story of a cunning Spider who ensnares a Fly through the use of seduction and flattery.
- The poem teaches children to be cautious against those who use flattery and charm to disguise their true evil intentions.
- The gruesome ending in this cautionary tale is used to reinforce the important life lesson being taught.
In stanza one, the spider does its best to entice the fly into its parlour with the promise of pretty things to see. The fly refuses and says it will never visit, because it knows whoever goes there is never seen again.
In stanza two, the spider tries a different tactic, offering the fly a pretty and comfortable place to sleep. Again, the fly refuses, citing the disappearance of others who have accepted this offer.
In stanza three, the spider asks what it can do to prove its motives are pure; it offers lovely food to the fly, but once again, the fly refuses, saying it has heard about the spider’s pantry and isn’t interested.
In stanza four, the spider tries to flatter the fly by praising its appearance and inviting it in to look into a mirror. Though flattered, the fly refuses – but leaves the door open a bit by implying “some other time.”
In stanza five, the spider knows it has won and begins preparations to feast on the fly. After setting a tlever trap, it again appeals to the fly’s vanity and praises its beauty compared to the spider’s less appealing appearance.
In stanza six, the vain fly comes by to hear more blandishments about its beauty, and the spider strikes, taking the fly into its parlour, from which it never emerges.
In stanza seven, the narrator speaks directly to readers with an imperative: never fall for the flattery of a predator—learn from this fable of the spider and the fly.
The Spider and the Fly Main Characters:
- The spider,
- The Fly
- The narrator
The Spider and the Fly Poem Overview
” Will you walk into my parlour? ”said the Spider to the Fly,
“This the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And Fve many curious things to show when you are there. ”
The first stanza is the spider’s pursuit of the fly – with a charming invitation into his home. Yet this sociable chat is edged with a sense of mistrust, a sense of danger that comes with these two characters, the spider and the fly, being natural predator and prey.
The spider describes his parlour as the ‘prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy’. The act of spying is to watch something secretly. We share secrets and confidences with our closed ones. Inviting the fly to spy into his abode, the spider is trying to send the message that he considers the fly to be close. The spider portrays his home as a mysterious wonderful place.
More details are added to arouse the fly’s curiosity. The parlour may be reached through a ‘winding stair’ and it is filled with ‘many pretty things’.
“Oh no, no, ” said the little Fly, ‘‘to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
can never come down again. ”
Thankfully, the fly wisely sees through the spider’s deviousness. She knows that those who go through the ‘winding stair’ into his home never come out. It implies she is aware that the spider has eaten his previous guests. This is one extended invitation she shouldn’t be accepting. She clearly declines, telling the spider that to ask her into his home is ‘in vain’ – or useless.
“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed? ” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in! ’’
The spider has been keeping a close eye on the fly. He tries a different tactic for his next move. This time the spider feigns concern.
Posing as a sympathizer, the spider pretends to fret over how tired the fly must be (I’m sure you must be weary, dear) after what he feels is a day of intense flying. He goes so far as to personally offer her a respite from the day’s activities.
The cunning villain also adds a subtle dose of flattery.
‘Soaring up so high’ is how he describes the fly’s flight. He hopes the fly will lower her guard if she feels that she has a kindly shoulder to lean on.
He temptingly offers prospect of a little rest like offering water to a thirsty traveller. A cosy little bed, with light sheets to rest on. A quiet place, with pretty curtains drawn around to make it cool and dark. To an exhausted person, this would be a bliss. The perfect atmosphere to ‘snugly tuck’ in. This means to ensure a comfortable snooze, by securing the bed-sheets closely around one-self.
Interestingly, the ‘fine and thin’ sheets bring to mind the fine silk of a cobweb. If the spider tucks the fly into this bed, she could find herself in permanent slumber.
“Oh no, no, ” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed! ”
Then again, perhaps the spider tried too hard when he proposed to personally tuck the fly in. Weary or not, the fly is still alert to the perils of falling for the spider’s flattery. She turns him down on his own offer, remarking that everyone knows of the spider’s ill repute as a host. As she hears, no one who goes for a sleepover at the spider’s ever wakes up again. Her refusal is not just based on her own observations now.
This time, she is even more firm. In addition to her “0 no, no!” note her repetition of ‘never’ for emphasis- “They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed.”
Said the cunning Spider to the Fly,
“Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm aff ection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome – will you please to take a slice? ”
Still the spider perseveres. Now he tries to manipulate the fly into feeling guilty for not accepting his many gestures of friendship.
“Dear friend, what shall I do…?” The spider is eager to prove his friendship – but is still on his terms. At the end of the day, he’s using guilt as another roundabout way to get the fly into his home.“I have within my pantry good store of all that’s nice”- These constant invitations to see or sample something or another in his house is almost a pitiful refrain. He is desperate and at his wit’s end (or so it seems) on how to gain the fly’s trust.
No. 18 – 19
“Oh no, no, ” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see! ”
It’s commendable the way the fly fights politeness with politeness. She addresses the spider as ‘Kind sir’ – a dainty reply to his ‘Dear friend’. It shows that while the fly shows courtesy to the spider, she is not keen on him as a friend and will still keep her distance. The fly then proceeds to firmly turn down his invitation and tactfully alludes that she already knows what’s in the spider’s pantry (his past victims) and is not interested in knowing more.
“Sweet creature!’’ said the Spider, “you ’re witty and you ’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf
If you ‘ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
Vanity is the spider’s choice weapon now. He heaps flattery on the fly. In praising her wit and wisdom, the spider sends the message that he acknowledges that the fly is a smart cookie. This well-placed compliment could have lulled her into a false sense of security, for the fly could assume that she was smart enough to see through the spider’s evil plans. Immediately after, the spider begins to praise her loveliness – those gauzy wings and brilliant eyes. The spider speaks as if the fly does not realize her own beauty. He wants to show her how lovely she is. Again an invitation, to see herself in the looking glass. One moment is all he asks of her, one moment is all he needs.
“I thank you, gentle sir, ” she said, “for what you ‘re pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day
From the earlier unhesitating “O no, no!”, our little fly doesn’t seem too vehement in her refusal now. She hasn’t accepted the spider’s invite; we could even say she is stalling. After all, the fly still hasn’t specified when she will visit the spider. But while she hasn’t said yes, she hasn’t given an outright ‘no’ like she used to earlier either.
This hesitation from the fly and not an outright falling for the spider’s flattery is an insight into the poet’s understanding of the human psyche.
Spider turned him roundabout, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little comer sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly
After all that talk of the fly being witty and wise, the spider calls her ‘silly’. Like so many others he has lured before, he is confident that she has predictably fallen for his honey tongued scheme. Up until now, just like the fly, we had our suspicions – the fly’s discomfort, her observations on the guests that never return, the rumours about the spider, the spider’s continuous wheedling to come to his home. But it is at this point in the poem, that the spider’s evil intent becomes clear.
He is seen gloating. He weaves a web not easily noticeable (a subtle web) – ready to trap the fly. His devious plan comes to light as he sets his table for the fly – not as his guest to dine with, but as his feast to dine on.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead! ”
‘Come hither, hither, pretty fly,’ the spider calls out eagerly. Feeling like he has baited his prey, the spider rapidly reels the fly in with vivid flattery. The ‘robes of green and purple’ refer to the colour of the fly’s body, the ‘crest’ or crown likely the fly’s antenna. ‘Gauzy wings’ have now become ‘pearl and silver wing’; ‘brilliant eyes’ are now ‘eyes like diamond bright’.
Simile is used here. The poet likens the fly’s bright eyes to diamonds, against the spider’s dull eyes which are compared to lead. The spider is self- depreciating so as to highlight the fly’s beauty.
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by
‘Alas, Alas!’ – The poetic lament for ‘Oh no!’ is uttered! With these words, one can only foresee doom for the fly. What’s even more vexing is that the fly was actually a wise creature at the beginning. But as the poet says Alas! – Vanity will be her downfall and she becomes silly and foolish. Lured in by the spider’s devious sweet talk – his ‘wily, flattering words’- the fly sets aside her sensible self. Yet, there’s still a part of her that is wary of how safe the situation is. We see her ‘slowly flitting by ’- guardedly testing the waters as she comes closer to the spider’s home.
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew.
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue –
Thinking only of her crested head – poor foolish thing!
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour – but she ne ’er came out again
Mesmerized by thoughts of her reflection, she gradually approaches the spider’s web. Unheeding her instincts, the fly hardly offers any resistance. Clearly engrossed in her own beauty, the fly is impervious to the danger she is in.
This was the moment the spider had been building up so long for. Quickly, he pounces on her – ‘fiercely held her fast’. Now deadly and focused on his goal, the spider wastes no time. The home that he had so charmingly described before reveals its deadly designs.
As the poem rapidly takes us through the spider’s winding stair, his dismal den, his little parlour; our foreboding is realized and we know there is a grisly end for the poor fly. For just like she remarked once of the others before her, ‘she ne’er came out again! ’
No. 42 – 45
And now dear little children, who may this story real
To idle, silly flattering words, 1 pray you ne ‘er give heed:
Unto an evil counselor close heart and ear and eye.
And lake a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.
There’s a change in the narration style of the poem as the poet ends her tale. She breaks off from the storytelling mode and directly addresses her audience, offering up a warning or moral to conclude the poem.
‘Take a lesson from the Spider and the Fly’, the poet counsels. Be distrustful of useless, sweet talk that is insincere. Not aH praise or advice is genuine, therefore you must be careful of who you listen to.
‘Unto an evil counsellor, close heart, and ear, and eye’ – For that matter, the poet would rather like us not coming into contact at all with sweet tongued people with not-so-sweet intentions.
The Spider and the Fly Mind Map
The Spider and the Fly Glossary