question: Michael Frayn's Copenhagen
questions should be posted in the WOK Study Questions folder
for Frayn's Copenhagen
For the first set
of questions, let us establish what actually happens in the play.
Please answer all of these questions in full sentences but keep
the answers concise.
1. We find out some
background information (exposition) in the first few pages of the
play. Using quotes where helpful as support for your answers, please
describe by answering the following questions, what we discover.
(up to page 12 where
Heisenberg describes his visit.: "I crunch over the familiar gravel
Other information (exposition does come out over the course of the
play, but this part gives us some essential setup information.)
1. Why are these three
characters assembling and when?
2. What information
do we find out about Heisenberg in the first few pages?
3. What was the relationship
between Bohr, Margrethe, and Heisenberg in the 20's?
4 .What is Heisenbergg
home country? Bohrs? Why is Bohr personally threatened by
the Nazi regime?
5. What happened to
the Bohr's eldest son, Christian?
As the play goes
on, Heisenberg is shown in his visit to the Bohr's home. Answer
the following questions about what happens:
6. Relations seem strained
between Bohr and Heisenberg in their 1941 meeting initially. Why
do you suppose that is so?
7. Why do Bohr and Heisenberg
'go for a walk' rather than stay in Bohr's home?
8. There are references
to the way in which Heisenberg skis. What type of skier is he? Is
that reflected in his life and/or work? What kind of skier is Bohr?
Does that say anything about him?
9. Why did the walk
they took end so abruptly?
10. There are references
to the first walk Bohr and Heisenberg took to Elsinore (the castle
where Hamlet is set). Can you make any sense of what those references
are used for?
11. What is the problem
with using uranium (U238) for fission?
12. Heisenberg claims
he is heading the reactor program in Germany for a good reason.
What is it?
13. Bohr thinks Heisenberg
is visiting to find out specific knowledge. What is it Bohr thinks
Heisenberg wants to know?
14. References are made
to Bohrs theory of "complementarity" (pages 69-70 and 77-78)
and Heisenbergs theory of "uncertainty." (Pages 66-68). Can
you explain in your own words what you think they mean as they describe
them? (you need not be a scientist to get the implication of these
theories- audiences had no more knowledge than you are given within
15. When World War II
ended, Heisenberg and other German scientists were brought to a
secluded place in Britain in Farm Hall. What did they find out when
they were there?
15. Who does Heisenberg
see as the true villain in this series of events and why?
16. At the end of the
play why does Heisenberg assume he miscalculated the amount of 235
needed to produce the bomb?
18. How was Bohr helped
in his escape from Copenhagen by his association with Heisenberg?
19. At the end of the
play have we found out the 'truth' about why Heisenberg visited
20. What do we 'know'
at the end? anything? If so, what? If not, what impression are we
left with? Why is memory a "curious diary"?
21. Look at the picture
of the set on the cover of your edition of the play. Does it suggest
any metaphor about the play or any ideas about what Frayn hopes
you will see? (There is no right or wrong answer here.)