The exam paper is up on the internet, so I’m allowed to discuss specific questions now. Then I can start focusing on my next course(s).
I knew from the outset that I was going to answer question 1, the ease of having the text right in front of you and knowing which play or plays to revise was just too tempting to say no to. I had also decided to do the As You Like It extract, because I didn’t particularly enjoy The Rover, particularly not when I really got to know Willmore* for the TMA. When I opened the exam I was very pleased to see that the extract was from Act 1 Scene 3, as it was a scene that had been given some very close attention on the DVD. Overall I think I did quite well for this question, I discussed production options, the use of language, in particular the use of formal language by Celia when she is trying to convince Rosalind of her love and of the potential homosexual undertones that may have arisen from the name Ganymede given that originally the women would have been played by men.
For the second section I chose question 4: “Whether the novels use realist or non-realist methods, they teach a moral by representing characters in the process of learning about themselves”. For which I chose Pride and Prejudice and Frankenstein as my novels to discuss. The notes my tutor shared with the tutor group were exceedingly useful for this and I even managed to get a paraphrased quote from a critic into the essay for each novel as a result. Otherwise it was the usual discussion of Elizabeth being taught to overcome her pride and prejudices** in order to be rewarded with the fairytale castle (non-realist technique?) of Pemberley… er, I mean, the lovely Mr Darcy. While for Frankenstein I discussed the unnaturalness of life created without women, relating it to the unnaturalness of the patriarchal society, which is highlighted by the lack of female characters in the book – specifically that all the women in the book are stereotypes and not characters in and of their own right. Thinking about it, I may have gone off on one a bit for that section of the essay – oh well!
My choice for section 3 surprised me slightly, I had expected to tackle questions 7 or 9 before I read the questions and I ended up doing question 8. I knew from the start that poetry would be my weakest section, and I really did struggle with it. Anyway, the question was: “Female poets present challenges to the stereotypes of women in a range of ways”. To tackle this I used the Lady of Shalott as an example of a stereotypical representation of a woman, challenged it with the representations presented in the Goblin Market and then used Against Coupling as a contemporary challenge to women needing men at all. It was all a little rushed. I’d only given myself 45 minutes for the question and I hadn’t done an essay plan at all. I barely quoted from the poems and I definitely didn’t use any examples of the use of language or poetic techniques. On the other hand, I did write a full essay.
Overall I was happy that it was over and that I’d managed to write three complete essays. I definitely won’t be so scared of Open University exams in the future, although I’m still tempted to do the level 3 course without the exam, rather than the Shakespeare course as I did find the revision to be very stressful.
The plan now is to spend 2012 on my creative writing. I’ve signed myself up for A174 starting in February and I’ve pre-registered for A215 starting in October. Until then I’m going to relax, try and write when I can and wait for my results in December *gulp*
* I still vaguely wish I’d made a point about Aphra Behn’s naming conventions in the TMA… “will more women be able to satisfy Willmore?”
** I actually hate referencing such obvious titles in essays, it feels so cliched and a little bit cheap. However, I did miss out on a point or two in my TMA by not referencing the title, so I included it this time around.