Pride and Prejudice
Warm-up: Marriage Research
- Have a short class discussion about marriage. What do the students already know about it? How will they learn more?
- Have students read the section in the guide on the Regency period and ask them to do their own supplementary research on the topic. How do they feel women were treated during this time?
- Think about justice/injustice in terms of the Regency period. Has the concept changed over time?
- Have students work in pairs to learn about the institution of marriage. Give them time to research marriage through the ages and around the world. You can do this by assigning different time periods or by having students choose the period and place/culture on their own. Ask students to consider questions of class, gender (different expectations for men and for women), culture, religion, traditions, and economics.
- Ask students to make sure their sources are credible (no Wikipedia!) and have them use a variety of primary and secondary sources.
Main Exercise: True or False
- Using the research the students have collected, ask them to develop a five-question true/false quiz.
- Each pair will present their quiz to the class.
- Idea: If you would like to extend this exercise further, have students create a quiz show and invite other classes to come and participate!
Culminating Exercise: Debate – For Love or Money?
- Have students conduct some research on debates and the debating format and organize a structured debate in your classroom.
- Have students put forward a resolution on the topic of marrying for love or marrying for money. For example:
Be it resolved: Marriage should be a purely romantic pursuit and both parties should enter into the institution only for love.
Be it resolved: Marriage continues to be mainly an economic arrangement that contributes to the foundation of society. While romance is a worthy pursuit, both parties must consider the economic consequences of their union.
- Divide students into two groups and ask them to prepare to debate their side of the argument.
Teacher prompt: “How can you plan a response when listening to an opponent’s presentation during a debate?”
- When students are ready for the debate, set up the classroom with half of the desks on one side of the room and the other half on the other side, facing each other.
- Allot a certain amount of time for argument presentation, rebuttal, response, and concluding arguments. It is also important to include work periods between each formal exchange so that groups can formulate their responses.
- As the teacher, you may determine a winner based on the arguments presented, or invite another class to watch the debate and have them vote for the most persuasive argument.
Ask students about the debating experience. Were they content with the arguments presented? Were they able to adequately express their points of view? How did they feel about working in the two large groups? Did everyone get to participate?
Try the debate again, but this time have groups argue the opposite points using different tactics and strategies.
Warm-up: Exploring Status
- Divide students into groups of four to six.
- Using a deck of cards with the ace being the highest and two being the lowest, deal a card to each student that they must not see. The card should be attached to their forehead so that only the other players in the group know the value of the card.
- When everyone has a card, ask students to improvise a scene one group at a time (hint: try improvising a scene from Pride and Prejudice, for example, and provide music for an atmosphere resembling a ball).
- The scene will be short but the goal is for students to determine if they are someone with high status or low status based on the way they are treated by others.
- Once every group has had a turn, take some time to debrief the experience with students. How did they come to understand their level of status? How was high/low status indicated? How did they feel as someone with high status? Low status? Was there anything students could do to change their status in the course of the improvisation?
Main Exercise: Exploring Character
- Have students choose a character from Pride and Prejudice to explore for a character study.
- Next, ask students to create a Facebook profile for their characters. (This can be done online or on hardcopy templates).
- Ask students to think about what their character would include in a public forum such as Facebook. Have students decide on “Likes,” “Dislikes,” “Events,” “Relationship Status,” “Recommended Pages,” “People You Might Know” and any other aspects of Facebook they feel are important to include.
- Ask students to consider how each character’s profile will be different based on their personality. (E.g.: How might Jane and Lydia’s compare and contrast?)
- Optional: Once the profile is complete, ask students to spend a day in the life of their character on Facebook. Have them write status updates, instant message one another in role, post “Favourites” and anything else students feel would be relevant for the form and the content.
- Spend some time debriefing about the exercise. Do students feel they have come to understand the characters through using this method? Why or why not?
Culminating Exercise: Adapting the Story
Gossip, rumours, misunderstandings: Pride and Prejudice is a story full of intrigue. If Jane Austen were to tell this story today, what medium might she use other than a novel?
There have been many different adaptations of Jane Austen’s work. The NAC/Theatre Calgary production is an adaptation from the novel into a stage play by Janet Munsil. Bridget Jones’ Diary is a loose adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as is Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood film, and the movie Clueless is an adaptation of Emma. There are even books that introduce new characters into the existing storylines of Austen’s work, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.
- Have students conduct some research to find as many different adaptations of Pride and Prejudice as possible.
- Next, ask students to spend some time brainstorming the other possible ways to tell the story of Pride and Prejudice. What would make sense considering the content of the story? (i.e. gossip magazine, reality television show, series of tweets, profiles and chats etc.)
- As a class, think about the play and break it down into a series of events.
- Divide students into groups of four or five and have them choose a medium with which they would like to work and an event from the play to adapt into their chosen medium.
- Once students have completed their adaptation have them present to the class.
- Send the NAC your students’ adaptations for posting on our blog! We would love to read them!