The Difference between A-level & O-level Literature

It is about time someone enumerates and elaborates the differences between O-level and A-level Literature.

“Understanding the differences is the first step to doing well for
this wonderful subject.”

Knowing the contexts improve our understanding of the texts. This is one of the open secrets of doing well. It is also one of the major difference between A-level and O-level Literature.

One Crucial Difference

Contexts

Having an A-level Literature tutor who knows the differences makes the key difference between an effective and a non-effective A-level Literature tuition session

Leveraging the Power of Three - the secret to answering questions effectively.

What is there not to love about George Bernard Shaw?

It is with delight that MOE has once again selected the works of this all-time eminent but controversial playwright for A-level Literature. As a Literature tutor for both O-level and A-level students, I am always pleased about tutoring his plays. For O-levels, Pygmalion is the drama text for Pure Literature students but will be taken for 2020, and for A-level students, it was previously Mrs Warren’s Profession and now it is Saint Joan.  Having studied his works in great depth , I can say he is an awesome playwright and certainly strive my best to make my Literature tuition sessions fun and beneficial for my students. To be an effective Literature tutor, it is vital for the tutor to possess the following attributes:

  • A willingness to work diligently
  • Thorough knowledge of the text and the  various relevant contexts
  • Understanding the background, beliefs and precepts of the writer
  • Infinite patience and a nurturing temperament.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I enumerate the reasons for loving his works and even this great playwright.

Reasons for loving Shaw

A Feminist to Boot
In an era when British women were fighting a bitter battle for the right to vote, Shaw was already an ardent advocate of equal rights for women – not only at the ballot box, but in the institutions of higher learning, in the right to pursue a career, in the opportunity to be financially independent. His female characters have a mind of their own, unafraid to speak up for themselves, unafraid to voice their opinion. Never mind that he makes them  “unwomanly” in his plays, (by the way that is how the epithet, Shaw’s unwomanly woman” originated), the point is this great guy was penning brochures to promote the suffragette movement, speaking at their rallies and gatherings and specifically giving them equal status with men as members of the Fabian Society. He also donated to their cause.

A Fervent Socialist. 
He was not the violence/revolution-espousing leftist, in case that is what you are thinking. No, he believed in peaceful means of revolution – that was why he founded the Fabian Society. Shaw saw the evils of unbridled capitalism – the greed, the exploitation and the glaring inequalities that it spawned. Indeed, the wealthy upper class characters in his plays are usually portrayed in rather negative light and he often gives his best lines to the lower classes. The downtrodden working class were often portrayed sympathetically while the wealthy upper class are depicted as immoral, hypocritical, and self-seeking.

A Self-made Man.
His life story is the story of the poor boy made good. Who does not love such a story and admire such a man? Shaw was forced out of school by a selfish drunkard for a father and after working as a lowly-paid clerk, he moved to London (to join his very unconventional mother) where he educated himself by reading fervently in libraries, and attending talks and lectures. Actually he did not really liked schools, calling them prisons. He embarked on self-education which made him very much the immensely successfully playwright that he was.  But success eluded him for a long time (the first five novels he authored all failed abysmally), it was only in his mid-forties that he started tasting real success.  By his fifties, he became a household name, respected and admired in Europe and America. He won numerous awards and citations, including the Nobel Prize for Literature not to mention the Academy Award, the Pulitzer Prize.

Unafraid to Speak His Mind
Shaw was a man unafraid to speak his mind and some of his plays were banned. One example was Mrs Warren’s Profession which deal with the subject of prostitution among other issues. He was pretty controversial too – some of his beliefs are really up my alley – he once wrote that “a man is a woman without petticoats”. Now is that not wonderful that he had actually conferred on woman the signifying power of gender, thereby reversing the way gender was determined in his patriarchal society. That statement is sufficient to make him endearing to me.

An Interesting and Unique Character
He led a remarkably interesting life. I mean he was an interesting character. Of course, it is expected that Shaw led a colourful life in the department of romance given that he was rather good-looking (when he was younger than he was in the photo) and undoubtedly very talented and successful, all of which naturally made him a magnet for women. His public and sincere advocacy of  women’s rights also moved his appeal to the opposite sex many notches up. But overall his relationships with women were mostly platonic. He did have a thing for actresses and if you are interested, do read up about his love life. I assure that it is quite entertaining. Nevertheless, this man only married once and his life changed for the better when he became a married man – the married playwright became the successful playwright.

A Remarkably Tenacious Character
He was always very persistent and failures did not deter him. His career as a playwright was not always smooth-sailing although his works made him very rich. This is a quality many of us could certainly emulate. In addition, he was witty, entertaining although he had some eccentric habits which I rather you, my dear reader, find out on your own.  

In conclusion Shaw is truly a unique person who cared a lot for the downtrodden and his life is certainly inspiring for those who feel they are different and have problems fitting in with conventions and norms. And it is always a lot of fun teaching his works.

 

O-level Literature

The only place where all the O-level Literature texts are taught.

O-level Literature focuses on Reader Response and New Criticism. The sessions cover both texts, devices and answering techniques. This is the only  place where all the O-level texts are covered. 

Mdm Yu’s extensive experience in Literature tuition benefits students
in helping them score in this subject.

For a subject that is relatively less popular compared to Geography and History, there are certainly a lot of text options which makes tutoring it challenging. But passion and deep abiding interest in this subject makes Mdm Yu the right Literature tutor for students of Elective and Pure Literature. below are some of the texts for O-level Literature tuition. I will update from time to time but it may not always be possible even if I am tutoring new texts because of time constraints. So just call to check with me to confirm that the Literature tuition sessions cover the new titles.

Enjoy this wonderful subject and do well in it.

Some recent feedback from my Lit students

Former student from Crescent Girls (2018 O-levels):
“Just to inform you that I have scored an A2 for my Combined Humanities (Literature & Social Studies).”

Pure Lit student from TKGS(2018 O-leveIs)
“I am impressed with Mdm Yu’s teaching. She is the best Lit tutor. I thank her for my A1 for my Pure Literature last year (2018 O-levels).”

O-level (2017) Pure Lit student from CHIJ(Katong Convent):
“I managed to score A2 for my Pure Lit this years, thanks to Mdm Yu. I leapt from C4 in my mid-year to A2. Thank you Mdm Yu. “

 

 

 

 

Call 9876 1777 now for a trial session