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Teaching Guide

Teaching Pride and Prejudice

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In this guide you will find

  • an activity asking students to use their sense and sensibility to persuade others to read Jane Austen.
  • reading quizzes to be sure students are reading and not just staring at Colin Firth dripping wet.
  • more pop culture references than you can shake a severed zombie limb at.

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  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
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Instructions for You

Objective: True, Mr. Darcy is a nearly 200 years older than your students, but we think they'll relate to the way he must have felt after that first awkward proposal to Elizabeth Bennet. Just about everyone has had the experience of saying something... and then immediately wishing they could take it back. And today, your students are going to give Mr. Darcy the opportunity for a do-over. 

They'll examine Mr. Darcy's original proposal to Elizabeth in order to understand exactly what he was trying to express and what about it was so offensive his beloved. Then, they'll imagine that Mr. Darcy gets a chance to propose for the first time again, expressing  himself in a more acceptable way. 

They will play editor to a distraught Darcy, who is caught between his desire to be truthful about his feelings for Elizabeth's family and her comparative poverty and his need to be more tactful. It will be their task to help Mr. D. walk the fine line between brutal truthfulness and deceptive flattery to create a more successful declaration of love. 

Length of Lesson: 2 class periods

Materials Needed:

Step 1: Start by leading a class discussion of Darcy's proposal. Make sure everyone is turned to the proper pages (Chapter 34) so they can refer to the text as necessary. You can use the following questions to guide your discussion. 

  • What does Darcy think he is doing by speaking negatively about Lizzy's family?
  • What, if anything, is positive about Darcy's declaration of love?
  • What, specifically, is offensive about his proposal?
  • In what way is Lizzy offended during this speech? Is it the substance of it or rather her own ideas about his behavior outside of that particular meeting?

Step 2: Ask students to imagine that Darcy had taken his "rough draft" of this proposal to them first, and asked them to help work out the difficulties of expression. Remind them that Darcy still wants to be truthful to Elizabeth, but doesn't want to be accused of being "ungentleman-like." (The horror.)

Step 3: Give them an opportunity to write a "revised proposal." Students can start their writing in class and finish their revised proposals for homework. Remind students that they should try to stay true to Mr. Darcy's voice (more or less) and express the sentiments he thought it was important to express—they should just do it with more tact. If they need help getting in touch with Mr. Darcy's feelings, they can check out Shmoop's Mr. Darcy Character Analysis.

Step 4: Allow individuals to share their revised proposals with the class. They should be able to explain their choices to the class and also say why they think their letter is an improvement on the original. 

NOTE: It could be fun to collect these proposals together in a book to share with your classes—especially if you happen to be working on this around Valentine's Day.

Step 5: Conclude the activity with this amusing video about Mr. Darcy pick-up lines and just how effective they are in our modern world. (Answer: Not at all.)

Instructions for Your Students

Sure. Mr. Darcy is about 200 years older than you are, but we bet you can relate to his botched proposal to Elizabeth Bennet. Just about everyone has had that experience of saying something... and then immediately wishing they could take it back. 

Well today, you're going to give Mr. Darcy a chance for a do-over. 

First, you'll take another look at that disastrous proposal and try to figure out exactly what he was trying to express—and why it was so offensive to his beloved. Then, you'll go back in time with Mr. D and help him finesse his proposal. It will be your task to help him walk the fine line between brutal truthfulness and deceptive flattery to create a more successful declaration of love.

Step 1: In class, discuss Darcy's disastrous and (not surprisingly) unsuccessful proposal to Elizabeth. Make sure you have your book and that you're in the right chapter (#34) so you can refer to it as necessary while you consider the following questions:

  • What does Darcy think he is doing by speaking negatively about Lizzy's family?
  • What, if anything, is positive about Darcy's declaration of love?
  • What, specifically, is offensive about his proposal?
  • In what way is Lizzy offended during this speech? Is it the substance of it or rather her own ideas about his behavior outside of that particular meeting?

Step 2: Imagine that Darcy is a buddy of yours and that he's brought his "rough draft" of this proposal to you so you can help him edit it. Remember that Darcy still wants to be truthful to Elizabeth, but doesn't want to be accused of being "ungentleman-like." (The horror.)

Step 3: Write a "revised proposal" for Mr. Darcy. A couple of things to remember: 

  • You should try to stay true to Mr. Darcy's voice (more or less) and express the sentiments he thought it was important to express—you should just do it with more tact. 
  • Your proposal should be in final copy format, so make it neat. If you have time and the inclination, you might even try to give it a little 19th Century flourish by printing it on parchment paper, or in a flowery font. 

If you need help getting in touch with Mr. Darcy's feelings, check out Shmoop's Mr. Darcy Character Analysis.

If there's still class time, go ahead and get started now. You can finish your revised proposal for homework.

Step 4: Share your revised proposal with the class. You should be able to explain your choices to the class and also say why you think your proposal is an improvement on the original.

Step 5: Time for a little (more) fun. Finish up this activity by watching this amusing video about Mr. Darcy pick-up lines and just how effective they are in our modern world. (Answer? Not very.)

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Common Core Standards  

The following standards are covered in this course:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.6

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