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Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice and Shmoop.

Sharpen those claws, Shmoopers, because it's about to get catty in here. Jane Austen may have a reputation for writing about demure ladies in fancy dresses sitting around and talking about getting married, but Pride and Prejudice is more than that.

Way more.

This course includes activities, readings, and projects designed to help you

  • describe and analyze Austen's writing style. (Common Core, anyone?)
  • understand the history of the English novel and Jane Austen's place in it.
  • explore the social and historical realities of early 19th-century life.
  • think about how STEM perspectives might apply to literary analysis. (Hello, interdisciplinarity!)

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Pride and Prejudice

Colin Firth may or may not make a cameo in this 15-lesson unit on Pride and Prejudice. Just in case, you might want to practice saying "gentry" in your best British accent.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 2: (Love and) Marriage

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that bling.

Marriage. It brings us together. It sells copies of US Weekly. It propels the plots of 93% of Victorian novels.

Okay, so we made that last statistic up. But truthfully, marriage is hugely important in Jane Austen novels—almost as important as money.

If you're taking this course, you're probably old enough to have spent at least some time thinking about a potential life-mate. Maybe you've had a crush or two; maybe you're in a serious, long-term relationship. Either way, you're almost certainly not checking your love interest's credit history and career plans. Love conquers all, right?

Not in the 19th century, and especially not for the upper classes. Think Game of Thrones, not The Mindy Project. Marriage was still seen as a contract-driven coming together of assets. Just as most of us today grow up thinking that we should find marriage partners who are going to provide long-term emotional fulfillment, most upper-class kids of Jane Austen's time grew up thinking that they should find marriage partners who were going to help them sustain the same lifestyle they grew up in.

For women, that meant guys from good families with enough money. For men, that meant...women from good families with enough money. And that means the Bennet sisters are doubly out of luck. They have no money, and although their father is a gentleman, their mother is related to tradespeople.

It's not looking good for this family of five.