Monday, December 7, 2009

Exams Rather than Coursework

I have always preferred exams to coursework for the simple reason that the other kids in the class could never squeeze their parents into the chairs for the exam. Some argue exams are just a case of rote learning; which is marginally better than cut and paste from the internet...

One of the plays I did for my A Levels was Macbeth.

Explain, from Macbeth, Act 2:

"Naught's had, all's spent, Where our desire is got without content. 'Tis safer to be that which we destroy / Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy."

Either answer yourself or cut and paste the following:

These lines belong to Lady Macbeth (3.2.6-9). Finally, she realizes how futile and hollow her desire for power has been. "Naught had" equals "nothing had"; "all's spent" means that there is nothing left to bargain with; "Desire without content" means that even though she has gotten what she ostensibly wants, the price has been too exorbitant, the purchase dissatisfying.

"Tis safer to be that which we destroy," may mean that it is preferable to hold our baser instincts as possibilities of being rather than actual states of existence, an argument sustained by the end of this line, "than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy." Once realized, Lady Macbeth can no longer negotiate multiple interpretations of possible "selves." She sees what has become of letting her baser nature subsume her better instincts. There seems to be no returning to a purer self.


  1. Macbeth, still the ideal play of the aspiring modern politician, perhaps?

    "For mine own good,
    All causes shall give way: I am in blood
    Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,
    Returning were as tedious as go o'er:"

  2. Do I detect a veiled attack on a scheming lady figure at the heart of Tory politics in Cambridge? Unlike Lady Macbeth, this woman was only to keen to stick the knife into her leader's back