Thursday, June 07, 2018

Leaving Certificate Paper 2

This year the SEC have started putting online papers as they are being taken, so with an hour or so left still we can have a look at the literature papers being sat in halls all over the country on this sunny Thursday afternoon.

The Higher Level paper 2 (click here to see it) first: we have studied King Lear as our single text, and questions there are a) on 'moments of riveting drama that offer thought-provoking insights into the human condition', which should be straightforward (Gloucester's blinding, Lear and others on the heath, Cordelia's death) and b) a character question on Cordelia having a more significant role than her sisters (despite her mere 100 lines or so in the text). These are both fair questions which allow an able candidate to show his/her abilities.

In the Comparative section, Cultural Context and Literary Genre are the modes, and questions there include ones on 'unacceptable behaviour' (possibly tricky depending on the texts you have studied), and cultural norms affecting the happiness and successful of individuals (this would test most candidates). The Literary Genre options are very straightforward (a woolly question on techniques affecting our response to characters, and the techniques used at the start of texts).

The Unseen Poem is well-chosen: Moya Cannon's 'Two Ivory Swans'- she can be seen and heard reading it at the top of this post.

The annual Poetry Derby sees four coming past the post: Robert Frost, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, John Montague and Philip Larkin. As has been the case in recent years, these tend to wordiness, and have plenty of potential tripping points, such as the question on Montague, on his 'effective use of place, both literal and metaphorical, to explore elements of his personal and cultural identity': there's a lot there to get your head around.

The Ordinary Level paper, which a small number of our candidates take, is very straightforward: the Lear questions will frighten no-one, and nor will Comparative questions on Hero, Heroine, Villain and Social Setting. Richard Peabody's 'Walking to Dublin' is the Unseen Poem, and Prescribed Poems are Larkin's great poem 'The Explosion', Ted Hughes's 'Hawk Roosting', Eavan Boland's 'Child of our Time' and Michael Coady's 'New World'.

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