by Lucy Cole
|Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse|
Image source: victorianweb.org
Stress. Boredom. Frustration.
I’m pretty sure that, in those three words, I can sum up the feelings of all the poor innocent victims of the British school system, reeling under the intense pressure of looming examinations which we are forced to endure. What began as a determined and motivated search for knowledge has now deteriorated into sitting in front of piles of note-covered papers, whilst attempting to force coherent ideas out of what was once my relatively functional brain. I have ceased to wait for that strike of inspiration I so naively expected, the one that promises to rear its head in the face of misery, as it seems to for all the geniuses of our literary world.
Indeed, is it not true that all great poets, writers and artists create their most extraordinary works under that inspirational drug we call sorrow? Do not Tennyson’s poems cry of his self-perceived isolation of the artist through every carefully selected word? Like The Lady of Shalott, I am locked away in my tower (or bedroom), trapped by the curse of guilt that descends upon me every time I abandon my revision in pursuit of distraction. Like Mariana my feelings of despair and desperation are reflected in the grey skies and endless downpour, watching me pityingly from the freedom of the outside world, a pathetic fallacy representing my inevitable failure, and, undeniably, ‘I am aweary, aweary’.
However, I realise that this black cloud of stress and boredom will not linger for too much longer over my head, and soon I will regain my freedom from the clasps of pressure and expectation. I wonder whether perhaps it would be wiser to abandon the wistful and saddened (although beautiful) lyrics of Tennyson, to leave behind the troubled and pessimistic (although glamorous) lives of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, and instead, turn to the sanguine haze of the 1980s, to Bob Marley’s wise words – ‘Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing, is gonna be alright’. Perceivably, it is this optimism that is suppressing my inner genius; perhaps my problem is that I am just not quite miserable enough. But, in all honesty, I would choose happiness over brilliance any day. No offence, Tennyson.
Claire Stephens' examination of the exam system:
Melissa Smith's revision video diary: