Sunday 18 February 2018

Macbeth question causes lots of dramatic sighs

Leaving Cert diarist Ellie Walsh, who will start her exams today. Photo: John Power
Leaving Cert diarist Ellie Walsh, who will start her exams today. Photo: John Power

Ellie Walsh is a pupil at Ard Scoil na nDeise, Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

THEY got us again, big time. The poets were the big question on everyone's lips preceding English Paper Two. Outside the exam hall felt like Cheltenham, with everyone placing their bets on who would be the chosen four – and if maybe, just maybe, the State Examinations Commission would go easy on us and let everyone's dreams come true with a nice Heaney question.

Heaney came up alright, but in the wrong way, yet again. Our flicker of hope was shot down mercilessly with Heaney's second appearance of the week in the unseen poetry. Instead of Heaney, however, we were offered an eclectic selection of Yeats, Dickinson, Larkin and Plath. Not a bad choice indeed.

A sigh was heard when papers were quickly turned to the last page and Emily Dickinson was right there in bold print.

Personally, I opted for my old favourite Plath, whose quirky subject matter offered plenty to write about.

The 'Macbeth' question, however, was greeted with a few blank stares.

The first choice was to agree or disagree if Macbeth's relationships with other characters are primarily power struggles, and the second was a daunting question about dramatic techniques that evoke a range of responses from the audience.

No sighs of relief there. Unfortunately, sneaky side glances to see if everyone else is as perplexed as you are don't earn you any marks.

So I persevered by choosing the former, and unequivocally chancing my arm. Both arms at that.

Luckily, after that shock, the comparative study question was doable, if not slightly rushed towards the end. After about 13 pages of speed writing mixed with trying to make my handwriting comprehensible, we were finished and in need of urgent arm transplants.

Thankfully, now we're in the thick of it, the nerves have somewhat ebbed – leaving the view of freedom almost in sight.

Batten down the hatches and fine tune your calculator, because Maths Paper One is on its way.

One by one, brave soldiers have fallen to the obstacles of integration, differentiation and complex numbers, leaving only a handful of souls in our honours class, or perhaps fools would be a better term.

Will the 25 extra bonus points be worth the tears that will assuredly be shed this afternoon? We shall see.

Irish Independent

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