Hosts and Guests


Q: 1    How has the author categorized mankind in hosts and guests?


In this essay, the writer has classified mankind into a host or guest on the basis of circumstances and temperaments. When a person invites another person to dine with him and pays himself for the food, he is called Host and the person who just enjoys it is called guest. This is called the circumstantial difference. The writer says that it is our instinct to invite our near and dear ones to dinner and serve them with delicious dishes. At it, we feel happy and elated. Inviting some friends is a positive instinct whereas accepting hospitality is a negative instinct. The positive instinct of hospitality is commonly found in rich whereas the negative instinct is found in the poor. But it does not mean that all the needy are not guests and all the rich are not hosts. It depends on their disposition and temperament. This is called the temperamental difference.

The writer says that some people are born hosts and some are born guests. He claims to be a born guest. He says that boys are guests by nature until they grow up. At school, once he got a box of twelve sausage rolls, but he did not invite his friends to share the sausage rolls with them. Guests are also of two kinds. One is a parasite and the other is churl. The parasite is found in every ceremony even uninvited. He always likes to be a guest of others. Churl is in habit of finding fault with food. 247


Q:2     Write down why hospitality is only a human virtue and is missing among Animals.


Max Beerbohm wrote his essay “Host and guests” with a purpose. He wanted to analyze the behavior of man as a social and hospitable being. He has exposed the so-called human virtue of hospitality in a comic and satirical style. First, he differentiates man from animals saying that hospitality is an exclusively human quality. Animals do not invite other animals to share their food. A dog does not offer his bone to another dog. A cat never allows another cat to share her milk. Lions do not invite another lion to their den. Birds also do not keep their nests open. By nature, man too does not like to offer anything to others. He has a strong desire for personal ownership.

However, man has acquired this virtue during the long course of human development. As he became social and civilized, he learned to be hospitable. In the olden days, it was not easy to offer or accept the invitation of a meal. An atmosphere of doubt, fear, and uncertainty prevailed. The writer points out that the virtue of hospitality does not depend on the financial position of a man. Being rich or poor does not persuade him to be a host or guest. It is entirely a temperamental quality. The history of hospitality is full of sad and shameful incidents. Many hosts killed or poisoned their honorable guests.


  1. 3. Describe the history of man’s hospitality.

Or       How did man learn to be hospitable?

Or write down the development of instinct of hospitality.


The history of man’s hospitality is very long. It can be traced back to the time when man lived in caves. People of the caves were not hospitable at all. They never invited other cavemen to their caves. They suspected and feared one another. They feared that their guest might kill them. Similarly, the guest feared that he might be killed by his host. They, therefore, avoided acting as hosts or guests. Red-haired men of ancient times never accepted anybody’s invitation to dine.

According to Max Beerbohm hospitality is not a natural instinct of man. Man learned hospitality at a very later stage “with the growth of civilization when he began to live in groups, families, and tribes. After Stone Age, he became civilized, hence hospitable. Life in society gave him some sense of security. He no more feared, like cavemen, that he would be killed by his host. From that time onward he began to extend an invitation to his neighbors, friends, and relatives, etc. who accepted his hospitality without any fear; and then returned the same as a good gesture. Since then people came to be known as hosts and guests.


Q.4      “In the annals of hospitality there are many pages that make painful reading.” Discuss.

Or       Narrate some tragic incidents of hospitality from history.


Having a look at history, we come to know that there were many selfish guests and selfish hosts. The history of hospitality has never been free from doubts and fears. The early caveman was afraid of going to other caves or inviting others to his own. He had a sense of insecurity. Still, there are many sad incidents in which the hosts killed their guests mercilessly to take revenge. Many hosts of high positions killed or poisoned their honorable guests. Israelites, for example, were once the most civilized people of the world, but Jael brutally murdered her guests.

Similarly, the Greeks were a civilized nation, but the Greek hero Odysseus killed his guests in his house”. The Romans were a highly cultured nation in the fifteenth century, but Borgias, the Roman kings invited their guests, actually their enemies, to their cellars where they had concealed poisons, with which they were killed. The Roman people hesitated to dine with the Borgias. Similarly, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth killed their guest, Duncan, the king of Scotland, in their palace.

The behavior of hosts has been very insulting, shameful, and barbaric towards there innocent guests.


Q.5      Discuss the qualities of a good host and a good guest.


Max Beerbohm says in his essay that people are either hosts or guests by temperament those who like to offer a meal to others are hosts and those who like to enjoy the meal without paying the bill are guests. The writer says that the behavior of these two categories of human beings is different from each other. Here we shall discuss the qualities of good guests separately.

A good host is generous at heart and loves human beings. He is not proud and egoist who tries to impress others by his hospitality. A good host invites his friends and relatives to dine for his own pleasure. Dickens’s character of olla Wardle is an example of a good host.

A good guest shows his hearty gratitude to his host. He is often a source of beauty, truth, and inspiration. A good guest accepts hospitality and always thanks for it.  Whereas a bad guest is never satisfied and has always complained. The famous philosopher Dante Furnishes is a good example. He always finds faults with his hosts after enjoying their hospitality. The parasite lives completely on others. He is an unwanted guest. He is always hungry. But he thanks his host at the end of the meal. The writer declares that he himself was more a guest than a host.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *