“I am pleased I chose English Literature as one of my A Levels as it has introduced me to a wider range of texts and genres. It has also taught me to appreciate literature in a different way than before. My favourite part of the course so far has been studying ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I really enjoyed reading and discussing this book with the class and I think it has some interesting and relevant themes. If I could have done anything differently, I would have read all the texts for the course earlier so that I could already have an understanding of them before we studied them in class.”


Your bridging work below links to each of the exam papers that you will sit for English Literature. Read the Introduction to English Literature A Level then complete the bridging work.


  1. Read or watch  Othello by Shakespeare. (Heinemann Advanced Shakespeare, ISBN: 9780435193058 from Heinemann Advanced Shakespeare.) The RSC are showing Shakespeare plays through the BBC, including Othello. There are also some clips of previous  Othello actors discussing the plays.
  2. Write a summary of Act One of the play.

Death of a Salesman

  1. Research the American Dream.
  2. Watch the film version of the play on YouTube.
  3. Optional: read the play (Penguin Modern Classics, ISBN: 9780141182742).

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

  1. Read  Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (BBC Books, ISBN: 9781846075995).
  2. Write a summary of ‘Phase the First: The Maiden’.


This mirrors the unseen element of the exam. Read the two extracts below from Animal Farm and A Doll’s House and then highlight relevant sections to answer these questions:

  1. Who holds the power in this extract?
  2. How do you know?
  3. What language indicates the powerful and the powerless?
  4. The specific nature of the power struggle – the behaviours of those with power and those without.
  5. What is the connection between the smaller world in this extract (the microcosm of literature) and the larger world (our society)?
Extract 1: Animal Farm by George Orwell

The reading and writing classes, however, were a great success. By the autumn almost every animal on the farm was literate in some degree.

As for the pigs, they could already read and write perfectly. The dogs learned to read fairly well, but were not interested in reading anything except the Seven Commandments. Muriel, the goat, could read somewhat better than the dogs, and sometimes used to read to the others in the evenings from scraps of newspaper which she found on the rubbish heap. Benjamin could read as well as any pig, but never exercised his faculty. So far as he knew, he said, there was nothing worth reading. Clover learnt the whole alphabet, but could not put words together. Boxer could not get beyond the letter D. He would trace out A, B, C, D, in the dust with his great hoof, and then would stand staring at the letters with his ears back, sometimes shaking his forelock, trying with all his might to remember what came next and never succeeding. On several occasions, indeed, he did learn E, F, G, H, but by the time he knew them, it was always discovered that he had forgotten A, B, C, and D. Finally he decided to be content with the first four letters, and used to write them out once or twice every day to refresh his memory. Mollie refused to learn any but the six letters which spelt her own name. She would form these very neatly out of pieces of twig, and would then decorate them with a flower or two and walk round them admiring them.

None of the other animals on the farm could get further than the letter A. It was also found that the stupider animals, such as the sheep, hens, and ducks, were unable to learn the Seven Commandments by heart. After much thought Snowball declared that the Seven Commandments could in effect be reduced to a single maxim, namely: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” This, he said, contained the essential principle of Animalism. Whoever had thoroughly grasped it would be safe from human influences. The birds at first objected, since it seemed to them that they also had two legs, but Snowball proved to them that this was not so.

“A bird’s wing, comrades,” he said, “is an organ of propulsion and not of manipulation. It should therefore be regarded as a leg. The distinguishing mark of man is the HAND, the instrument with which he does all his mischief.”

The birds did not understand Snowball’s long words, but they accepted his explanation, and all the humbler animals set to work to learn the new maxim by heart. FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end wall of the barn, above the Seven Commandments and in bigger letters When they had once got it by heart, the sheep developed a great liking for this maxim, and often as they lay in the field they would all start bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!” and keep it up for hours on end, never growing tired of it.

Napoleon took no interest in Snowball’s committees. He said that the education of the young was more important than anything that could be done for those who were already grown up. It happened that Jessie and Bluebell had both whelped soon after the hay harvest, giving birth between them to nine sturdy puppies. As soon as they were weaned, Napoleon took them away from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for their education. He took them up into a loft which could only be reached by a ladder from the harness-room, and there kept them in such seclusion that the rest of the farm soon forgot their existence.

The mystery of where the milk went to was soon cleared up. It was mixed every day into the pigs’ mash.

Extract 2: A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Nora (to PORTER). There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER
thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to
herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of
macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes
cautiously to her husband’s door and listens.) Yes, he is in.
(Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)

Helmer (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark
twittering out there?

Nora (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

Helmer Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

Nora Yes!

Helmer When did my squirrel come home?

Nora Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and
wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have

Helmer Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and
looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these
things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

Nora Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go
a little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to

Helmer Still, you know, we can’t spend money recklessly.

Nora Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn’t we?
Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn
lots and lots of money.

Helmer Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole
quarter before the salary is due.

Nora Pooh! we can borrow until then.

Helmer Nora! (Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the
ear.) The same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed
fifty pounds today, and you spent it all in the Christmas week,
and then on New Year’s Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me,

Nora (putting her hands over his mouth). Oh! don’t say such
horrid things.

The Handmaid’s Tale

  1. Read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. (Vintage, ISBN: 9780099740919).
  2. Write summary notes on Chapters 1-12.
  3. Using the Knowledge Organiser for The Handmaid’s Tale, create two mind maps on two key areas.
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