Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                         

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    SUBJECTS — World/England; Literature/England;
    SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — RomanticRelationships; Sisters; Humility;
    2006 Version: Age 12+; MPAA Rating: PG for some mild thematic elements; 127 minutes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.

    1995 BBC Miniseries: Age: 12+; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 300 minutes; Color. Filmed on location in Derbyshire.

    1940 Version: Age: 12+; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 118 minutes; B & W.

    Description:     Pride and Prejudice describes the unlikely courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Their relationship begins with mutual contempt, but moves forward as they mature and learn that their first impressions, based on pride and prejudice, were incorrect. The story is set in upper middle class English society at the beginning of the 19th century. These films are based on Jane Austen's classic novel.

    Benefits of the Movie:     Each movie will demonstrate that first impressions are often wrong, and that a person can mature if he or she keeps an open mind. The films will also acquaint children with the problems caused by class prejudice in England.

    Each of these films is an excellent introduction to Jane Austen's classic novel. Austen's works are not easy for even the most advanced readers. A college level teacher has reported that her students are more interested in reading another Jane Austen novel, Sense and Sensibility, after they have seen one of the film versions. When tested against a control group who only read the book, students who had seen the film before reading the novel had a better understanding of the characters and the plot. Viewing this film in advance of reading the novel Pride and Prejudice should have the same result.
    (See "Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility as Gateway to Austen's Novel" by Cheryl L. Nixon, contained in Jane Austen in Hollywood, Edited by Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield, 1998, University of Kentucky Press, pages 140 - 147.) For more suggestions about using filmed adaptations of literary works in the ELA classroom, see Lesson Plans Using Film Adaptations of Novels, Short Stories and Plays.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
    Before Seeing the Film
    Plots and Themes
    Literary Devices and Contrasting
    Differences between Male
    Characters: Film vs. Book
Building Vocabulary
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the worksheets to fit the needs of each class. Movies as Literature Homework Project.

    Possible Problems:    MINOR. While the characters pay lip service to the principle that people should marry for love and not concern themselves with wealth or position, two of the Bennet sisters end up marrying men of wealth and position. Each film version departs somewhat from the novel. See Helpful Background Section below and the sidebar comment.

    Parenting Points:     Review Before Seeing the Film and communicate as much of the content as possible to your child. You will not be able to cover everything but do the best you can. Immediately after the movie, or at odd times over the next week (for example at the dinner table or in the car on the way to school) bring up some of the Discussion Questions, starting with the Quick Discussion Question in the sidebar. Don't worry if you can only get through a few questions. Just taking the film seriously and discussing it is the key. Allow your child to watch the movie several times and continue to ask and help him or her answer more discussion questions.
QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   An earlier version of the book on which the movie was based was given the title "First Impressions." Give some examples of how characters in this movie change their first impressions of people?

Suggested Response: Darcy comes to realize that his first impressions of Elizabeth are wrong and that she is beautiful and accomplished. Elizabeth comes to realize that many of her first impressions of Darcy were mistaken, especially in that he has changed substantially over the course of the story.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

    2005 VERSION

      Selected Awards:   2006 Golden Globe Awards Nominations: Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy; Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (Keira Knightley); 2006 Academy Awards Nominations: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Keira Knightley); Best Achievement in Art Direction; Best Achievement in Costume Design; Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score.

      Featured Actors:   Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet; Talulah Riley as Mary Bennet; Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet; Jena Malone as Lydia Bennet; Carey Mulligan as Kitty Bennet; Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet; Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet; Claudie Blakley as Charlotte Lucas; Sylvester Morand as Sir William Lucas; Simon Woods as Mr. Bingley; Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley; and Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy,

      Director:  Joe Wright


      Selected Awards:  1996 Emmy Awards: Best Costume Design for a Mini-Series, 1996 Emmy Award Nominations: Outstanding Mini-Series, Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Writing.

      Featured Actors:  Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth, Crispin Bonham Carter, Anna Chancellor, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha, Alison Steadman, Benjamin Whitrow, David Bark-Jones, Polly Maberly, Lucy Briers, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Adrian Lukis.

      Director:  Simon Langton.

    1940 VERSION
      Selected Awards:  1940 Academy Awards: Best Art Direction, Black & White.

      Featured Actors:  Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Edmund Gwenn, Edna May Oliver, Mary Boland, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ann Rutherford, Frieda Inescort.

      Director:  Robert Z. Leonard.

Some differences in the three movie versions: The 1995 version is longer and more complete than the 2005 or the 1940 versions. It offers more detailed character and plot development. There are also differences in the story line. For example, the 1940 version changes the plot of the novel in having Ms. Catherine de Bourgh confront Elizabeth on behalf of Darcy, testing her, but hopeful that Elizabeth will prove herself worthy. In the book, the 2005 version and in the 1995 film, Ms. de Bourgh is earnestly trying to keep her daughter's engagement to Darcy on track and bullies Elizabeth into agreeing not to marry Darcy.

    Helpful Background:

    What Students Should Know Before They See the Film

    Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) was the unmarried daughter of a clergyman. She grew up in a secure middle class household and wrote novels which explored universal patterns of human behavior. Her stories dealt with upper and middle class English society in which relationships were often based on gain, rather than affection or admiration. Austen's novels are satiric and humorous with rich attention to detail and insightful treatment of character. Austen's major novels are Sense & Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Northanger Abbey (1818), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816) and Persuasion (1818).

    At the beginning of the 19th century, when Jane Austen was writing her novels, few professions were open to respectable women. Writing novels was not one of them. For that reason, Pride and Prejudice was first published anonymously; its author described only as "a lady." The inscription on Jane Austen's tomb described her as a daughter, a Christian, but not as a writer.

    The information set out below will aid in the understanding and appreciation of the story of Pride and Prejudice.


    From the time of the Norman conquest in 1066 through much the 1800s, England was organized with a monarch (a king or a queen) at the top, a powerful aristocracy that supported the monarch (or fought about who the monarch would be), and then the rest of society. Aristocrats were originally warriors given land by William the Conqueror in exchange for providing knights and soldiers for his army. Before the Industrial Revolution (1760-1830) the English economy was based almost entirely on farming and the raising of livestock such as cows or sheep. The wealth and power of the aristocracy was based on the ownership of land. New agricultural practices and the Industrial Revolution led to many changes, among them the mass movement of peasants to the cities, the factory system, the disruption of extended family relationships, the rise of the mercantile class, and the reduction in power of the landed aristocracy.

    This transformation of English society was well underway by the early 1800s. Mechanical power and inventions allowed machines to do the work that men and animals had done previously. Manufacturing and commerce had become increasingly efficient and profitable. Many manufacturers and merchants became very wealthy and a middle class of small business owners and professionals arose to serve the new economy. The aristocracy retained their title and social position but their wealth was increasingly threatened. The newly rich began to purchase titles, marry into aristocratic families, and arrogate to themselves the manners and attitudes of the aristocracy. However, the old aristocracy didn't let them forget that their wealth had come from "the trades".

    The old aristocracy are represented by Darcy and "the Right Honorable Lady Catherine de Bourgh widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh". The mercantile class, businessmen who were very wealthy, represented by the Bingleys, are shown eagerly adopting the lifestyle of the landed aristocracy. They displayed their wealth through fine carriages, elegant dress, large country homes with landscaped grounds, and titles whenever they could purchase them. The middle class, (the Lucas' and the Bennets) tried to mimic the aristocracy and the very wealthy to the extent that they could. Money and the social position that it could buy were seen as the key to a happy life.

    However, during the Industrial Revolution the rest of society was struggling. Peasants were being evicted from the estates on which their ancestors had labored and were moving to the cities by the tens of thousands. The lucky ones obtained some type of work in the factories or serving the wealthy and the new middle class. However, many could not find steady work or succumbed to rum, the drug of the age. In the early 1800s a third of England was living near starvation. See e.g., Oliver Twist. Bread riots and worker protests were met with force and repressive measures.

    Political power was still retained by the aristocracy. The House of Lords, whose members were from the traditional aristocracy and the church, passed on all bills coming from the House of Commons. The House of Commons, supposedly the voice of the people, was itself not representative. Only men with substantial property could vote. Even then, representation was skewed because of "pocket boroughs" (electoral districts which were controlled by the aristocracy) and "rotten boroughs" (electoral districts in which, because of the depopulation of the countryside, only a few voters were left.) Note that after the American Revolution the vast majority of male U.S. citizens owned some land and could therefore vote. However, universal male suffrage was not the rule throughout the U.S. until 1920. The first state to allow women to vote was Wyoming in 1890. While other states followed Wyoming's lead, women didn't get the vote in federal elections and in all state elections until 1920. Despite the fact that boys much younger than 21 were permitted to enlist in the military, it was only in 1976 with the passage of the 21st amendment that 18 - 20 year olds were guaranteed the right to vote.


    In modern Western society, people who marry to improve their social status or for money are considered shallow and shortsighted. They are condemned as "gold diggers". However, marrying for status or money was the norm in the upper classes until the last hundred and fifty years. Marriages were unions of families in which wealth was consolidated and combined or in which people with social status but little money were able to secure the financial backing of people with money but little social status. Thus, in England, a member of the hereditary aristocracy who did not have money or the prospect of a large inheritance (a daughter or a younger son) would marry into a family with newly acquired wealth. By the same marriage, a person of little social status but much money could improve his or her social status.

    The concept of arranged marriages has been prevalent through much of the world and in different cultures. See e.g., Fiddler on the Roof. Arranged marriages are still the norm in many countries in the Middle and Far East.

    The superiority of marriages based on affection is the subject of many plays, songs, stories, and other works of art. These were some of the ways in which Western society worked through the conflict between those who preferred marriages of convenience and those who advocated marriages based on affection. Pride and Prejudice and some of the other works by Jane Austen can be counted among these. Romeo and Juliet (1597) is another. Eventually, when the conditions of society had changed sufficiently, the consensus turned against arranged marriages of convenience. This occurred in different countries at different times but, in Western society, marriages of affection were the norm by the end of the 19th century. Now, in Europe and the United States, children simply inform their parents of their choice of a husband or wife even if marrying that person is a radical departure from what was expected. See, for example, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

    In the England of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, social status was based on birth and connection to the aristocracy or the royal family. However, if people were boorish or acted badly, they would be condemned by society no matter what their social status. Thus, Darcy was condemned by Mereton society because of his disdainful attitude.


    In the early 1800s, English women lived in a society with narrow and rigid expectations for their behavior. The laws of the time concentrated wealth in the hands of the oldest male heir. (There were a few women like Lady de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy who became wealthy by inheritance from a relation, but they were relatively few.) A woman who didn't marry might become a governess, but this job had a status only slightly above that of a servant and it paid little. They could not enter business or the professions. Writing was considered beneath a lady of any social status. Spinster aunts were tolerated in the households of their parents, or of a married brother or sister. Jane Austen was in this position. She never married and was paid little for her writing. She lived with her family all of her life.

    Through Mrs. Bennet, Jane Austen tells us what could happen to Elizabeth if she didn't accept an offer of marriage made to her by a man she abhors:
    [I]f you take it into your heart to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all--and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead -- I shall not be able to keep you .... Vol. I, Chapter XX.
    Charlotte Lucas admits that she was never a romantic and was always looking for a financially secure situation. The narrator, in discussing Charlotte's reflections on marrying, tells us that:
    Charlotte herself was tolerably composed. She had gained her point, and had time to consider it. Her reflections were in general satisfactory. [Her husband] to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable, his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. -- Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage has always been her object; it was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it. Vol. I, Chapter XXII.
    Thus, the business of getting a husband with the wealth to provide support and social standing was very important for a young woman. Accomplishment in the "arts", such as singing, playing the piano, drawing, dancing, reciting poetry, embroidering, or painting designs on tables were areas in which ladies could distinguish themselves. Pride and Prejudice Study Guide from the Glencoe Library.

    A good reputation was essential for a woman to marry well. In addition, the reputation of her family must be good as well or the woman would be "tainted by association". In this story, the unseemly behavior of Mrs. Bennet, Lydia and Kitty was one of the major reasons that Mr. Darcy's "better judgment" placed in the way of his affection for Elizabeth. Recognizing the taint that Lydia's scandalous behavior would cause, Elizabeth stated that: "Our whole family must partake of [Lydia's] ruin and disgrace." Later, Elizabeth remarked: "More things have been ruined by this than Lydia's reputation."


    The world portrayed in Austen's novels is filled with courtesies, customs, and rules of behavior which may not be familiar. Men would bow and women would curtsey when they met. One usually didn't speak to another person unless first introduced by a mutual acquaintance, except that men could call upon another man who moved into the neighborhood. Most certainly women could not initiate the contact. People with social standing did not visit people who lived in certain unfashionable neighborhoods.

    Lady Catherine asks Elizabeth, "Are any of your younger sisters out?" By this she referred to a custom of girls coming out into society (permitted to go to parties, etc.) and being offered on the marriage market. This custom was also followed in the U.S., among wealthy pretenders to aristocratic status, for well over a hundred years.

    On one occasion, Elizabeth was at home by herself when, "to her very great surprise, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy only, entered the room ...." According to accepted practices of the day, he should not have stayed and talked to her. However, to leave too early would be rude. Darcy stayed but a short time.


    "Entail" is a bequest limited to a particular person or to a special class of heirs, most frequently the eldest male relative. Thus when a property was subject to a properly drafted entail restriction the owner was not able to sell it and on his death it automatically went to his closest male relative, no matter what he might say in his will. Typically, in England, entail was used when land was the chief source of wealth to ensure that property passed to the eldest male heir. This was seen as a way of preserving the strength and vigor of the aristocracy and the monarchy that it supported. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bennet had received his estate subject to entail in favor of a male heir. He was therefore unable to transfer his house and land to his wife or to his daughters.

    Entail has now passed out of favor. In early 19th century England, entail was roundly condemned but it was enforced by courts. The characters in Pride and Prejudice universally criticize entail but are powerless to do anything about it.

    In revolutionary and democratic United States, entail and most other policies favoring the oldest male child had been abrogated at the time of this story. Thomas Jefferson in particular successfully campaigned against both entail and primogeniture (the policy by which eldest sons inherited the parents' estate and women and younger sons were left with nothing). He convinced the Virginia House of Burgesses to outlaw them. His goal was to split up large estates so that more men would be landowners and be able to participate in the governance of the country. Jefferson and many of the American revolutionaries believed that society would be more equitable if there was less disparity between rich and poor and if large concentrations of wealth were broken up.

TWM has prepared a Pride and Prejudice -- Helpful Background.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: Below is a sampling of the words or phrases in the films that will be helpful for children to know before they see the films. Knowing these expressions will make the dialog more understandable.

Selected Words and Expressions Used in the 2005 version:

inconvenient ---- vanity ---- amiable ---- scruples ---- "inferiority of your circumstances" ---- arrogance ---- conceit ---- conceited ---- disdain ---- "the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry" ---- ardently ---- "struggled in vain" ---- "I can bear it no longer" ---- torment ---- "single object" (in the sense of the only reason for an action) ---- "my better judgment" ---- expectations ---- "the inferiority of your birth by rank and circumstance" ---- "put aside" ---- flattery ---- delicacy ---- "These pleasing attention[s] precede from the impulse of the moment - or are they the result of previous study?" ---- arise ---- elegant ---- compliment ---- manners ---- rehearse ---- duet ---- "You are too generous to trifle with me" ---- scarce ---- "has taught me to hope as I'd scarcely allowed myself before" ---- bewitch ---- incandescent, incandescently ---- "I'm quite at my leisure" ---- "the intercourse of friends and family"

Selected Words and Expressions Used in the 1995 BBC/A & E Production.

All of the words described above for the 2005 version and the following:

"fair prospect" (as in how something looks)---- "fine prospect" (as in how something looks) ---- "in want of a wife" ---- savage ---- "country manners" ---- "close with the attorneys directly" (settle the terms of the deal with the attorneys at once) ---- to slight, slighted ---- "flatly refused to stand up with her" ---- "it's of little matter" ---- tolerable, intolerable ---- handsome, handsomest, "one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance" ---- "a reputed beauty" ---- ill-favored ---- to tempt, temptation, ---- capital (in the sense of very good, wonderful) ---- "a capital offence" ---- entail, entailed away ---- droll ---- "very elegant hand" ---- condescend, condescension ---- polite, politeness ---- inducement ---- to vex, vexation ---- "to give offense" ---- fastidious ---- abominable ---- affability ---- consideration ---- arrogant ---- presumption ---- "It behooves us all to take very careful thought before pronouncing an adverse judgment on any of our fellow men." ---- matrimony, — escapade ---- doctrinal ---- "high dudgeon" ---- "have a care" ---- "taciturn disposition" ---- diverted ---- patroness ---- privacy (pronounced with a short "i" and the accent on the first syllable) ---- disdain ---- "to make allowances" ---- pardon, unpardonable ---- insupportable ---- tedious ---- "I am all astonishment" ---- impartial ---- conviction ---- "to take a turn about the room" ---- "That would defeat the object" ---- insufferable ---- "triumph over us" ---- naughty ---- dreadful ---- "She still keeps her state above stairs? Lends such an elegance to our situation" ---- "an accomplished woman" ---- felicity ---- disgrace ---- "general acquaintance" ---- "general prejudice" ---- irretrievable ---- culpable ---- villain ---- fiend ---- condolence ---- tainted ---- "tainted by association" ---- consolation ---- to be "severe with oneself" ---- fetch ---- smelling salts ---- remedy ---- to "take too much upon yourself" ---- to "give way" ---- condolence ---- indifferent ---- "quite unable to account," ---- insincere ---- "universally contradicted" ---- "not to be bourne" ---- "arts and allurements" ---- induce ---- explicit ---- alliance ---- disgrace ---- headstrong ---- endure ---- "honor and credit" ---- blemish ---- "idle report" ---- abhorrence ---- deprived ---- countenance ---- to address.

Keira Knightley (Elizabeth in the 2005 version): "The reason [Elizabeth's] character has lasted as one of the favorite female roles in English literature is that any woman who reads the book sees herself as Elizabeth Bennet. I was terrified of taking the role. . . . Every woman wants to be her, because she's intelligent, she's got great wit, she's extremely passionate." JASNA web page on the new movie version of Pride and Prejudice.

Austen was educated in human nature by her observations of friends, family, and neighbors. It was from these people, living in middle to upper class English society of the late 1700s and early 1800s, that Austen constructed her novels. She had no experience with lives of poverty, murder, sexual adventure, famine, epidemic, war or the high councils of state and she did not write about them.

The different positions of men and women in this society found expression in language. An unmarried woman was a "spinster," a word with a negative connotation. A man who did not marry was referred to as a "confirmed bachelor," a term without any negative connotation.

(Life in a Marriage of Convenience)

Charlotte: Mr. Collins tends the gardens himself and spends a good part of every day in them.

Elizabeth: The exercise must be beneficial.

Charlotte: Indeed it is. I encourage him to be in his garden as often as possible. Then he has to walk to Rosings nearly every day.

Elizabeth: So often? Is that necessary?

Charlotte: Perhaps not, but I admit I encourage him in that also. And when he is in the house, he is mostly in his book room which affords a good view of the road whenever Lady Catherine's carriage should drive by.

Elizabeth: And you prefer to sit in this parlor.

Charlotte: Yes. So you see, it often happens that a whole day passes in which we have not spent more than a few minutes in each other's company. I find that I can bear the solitude very cheerfully. I find myself... quite content with my situation Lizzy. ...

Jane Austen wrote so convincingly about the people in her immediate society that her nineteenth-century readers often confused her fiction with reality. They wrote letters to Austen saying they were sure they had met the person represented by a certain character.

The end of this section in the left column is the end of the handout Pride and Prejudice -- Helpful Background which TWM recommends be read by students before they see the film or read the novel. See TWM's Terms of Use.

    Plots and Themes

    Pride and Prejudice consists of several intertwined stories about relationships between couples. The main plot describes the courtship of Elizabeth and Darcy which must overcome initial first impressions, prejudice, pride and several other obstacles. The progress of the main plot is admirably served by several subplots of relations between other couples: Jane/Bingley, Mr. Collins/Charlotte, and Lydia/Wickham. The story of how love conquers is one of the basic stories of Western civilization (and probably many others as well).

    TWM has identified eight major themes which weave their way through the story of Pride and Prejudice. The first five themes involve growth and learning by at least one of the major characters and they are the heart of the story. The positions of the characters as to the remaining themes are static, i.e., as the story goes along, the characters don't learn or come to embrace a new and better viewpoint on those topics.

    #1: THE DANGERS OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE     The primary obstacle in the path of the Elizabeth/Darcy romance is their difficulty in getting beyond their pride and their prejudices. Darcy is inordinately proud of his social standing and prejudiced against those with a lower social standing than he. But Elizabeth is proud, too. As she admits, her pride was hurt by some of the statements that she overheard Darcy make at the dance at which they were first introduced. Darcy's behavior, Wickham's story, and finally Darcy's interference with the Jane/Bingley romance, causes Elizabeth to feel a strong antipathy to Mr. Darcy. This was her "prejudice".

    The danger of pride and prejudice affects all human relationships, not just romantic relationships. This is a universal concern that will be with people through the ages. The events of the story taught Darcy and Elizabeth to discard their prejudices and that their pride was getting in the way of their true happiness. Darcy's pride is obvious and based on social status. Elizabeth's pride is described in the following dialog from the 1995 version:
    Jane Bennet: And Mr Darcy may improve on closer acquaintance.

    Elizabeth Bennet: You mean he'll be in a humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men? "She is tolerable I suppose, but she's not handsome enough to tempt me".

    Jane Bennet: It was very wrong of him to say so.

    Elizabeth Bennet: Aye, a capital offence!

    #2: FIRST IMPRESSIONS CAN BE MISLEADING AND PEOPLE CAN CHANGE, MAKING FIRST IMPRESSIONS OUT OF DATE     Snap judgments about people are often wrong. They often rely on prejudice. Some people believe differently and trust their immediate, intuitive response to others. The issue of whether to trust first impressions is a universal concern that will apply to human relationships through time. Like the theme of the dangers of pride and prejudice, Darcy and Elizabeth learn through the events of the story that first impressions can be misleading.

    There is another major problem with holding to first impressions. People change and grow. Elizabeth could never have loved the Darcy she first met. He was proud and prejudiced against her because his social standing was greater than hers. It was the Darcy who had cast away his pride and his prejudice, who had told Bingley that he had no objection to Bingley marrying Jane, who had renewed his proposal knowing that Wickham would be his brother-in-law, that Elizabeth loved.

    #3: MARRIAGE SHOULD BE FOR LOVE; NOT WEALTH OR SOCIAL STATUS     Another major obstacle to Elizabeth and Darcy (and another primary theme) is the role of social status and wealth in the matrimonial decisions of young people in the England of the early 19th century. Darcy had a particular problem with reconciling himself to marrying a woman of a lower social status who was not wealthy. In this, Elizabeth was Darcy's opposite. She knew all along that wealth and social position meant very little to her in the choice of a life partner. The lesson of this theme is one that Darcy learns through the course of the story.

    (The plot undercuts this theme because Elizabeth ends up marrying into Darcy's wealthy and socially prestigious family. If Austen had really wanted to play out this theme, she should have had Darcy suddenly lose his wealth. But Austen's belief that wealth doesn't matter in the choice of a mate only went so far.)

    A sub theme is the importance of respecting your spouse. The relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet is the counter to what Elizabeth expects in her marriage to Darcy. As Mr. Bennet says to Elizabeth when he is trying to make sure that she really wants to marry Darcy: "Let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life."

    #4: A CRITIQUE OF THE CLASS SYSTEM IN ENGLAND     Austen uses the characters of Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine, the sisters Bingley, and several more to ridicule those who genuflect to the aristocracy and the class structure. Darcy in his worst moments, such as his first proposal, also plays that role. However, his love for Elizabeth leads him to associate himself with those of a lower class. However, Austen's critique of class structure is quite limited because it relates only to the differences between the "upper classes" and the middle classes. What of the farmers, the laborers, the servants, the seamstresses? They are not even considered.

    #5: MEDDLING IN THE ROMANTIC AFFAIRS OF FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OFTEN LEADS TO TROUBLE     An obstacle in the Jane/Bingley relationship is the meddling of others in their affairs. Darcy and Bingley's sisters, in an effort to prevent Bingley from making a bad match, keep him away from Jane, causing Jane great suffering and leading, in part, to Elizabeth's initial rejection of Darcy's marriage proposal. Lady Catherine tries to stop the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth. Darcy, at least, comes to the realization that his meddling was wrong and apologizes for it. This theme is further developed in Emma.

    #6: THE DEPENDENCE OF WOMEN ON MEN FOR FINANCIAL SECURITY     In England through the 1800s the only way a woman could provide for her future was through an advantageous marriage. The treatment of Charlotte Lucas is the key to this theme. While she is a foil for Elizabeth in this regard, their situations are different. Austen acknowledges that Charlotte's solution is perhaps the best solution for her due to the restrictions of society, her plainness, and her lack of a substantial fortune. Austen doesn't condemn Charlotte, she condemns the conditions imposed by society which led Charlotte to this decision.

    A sub-theme in the criticism of class structure is that a woman could not obtain an advantageous marriage unless she had a good reputation. A woman's reputation could be ruined by misdeeds of members of her family as to which she was totally innocent. The story makes the point that Lydia's misbehavior and the misbehavior of the other younger sisters and of Mrs. Bennet would injure the reputation of Jane and Elizabeth, two attractive and sensible girls who did not contribute to this misbehavior.

    #7: THE BENEFITS OF A STRONG RELATIONSHIP AMONG SISTERS     Elizabeth and Jane are different in many ways but they have a strong and supportive relationship which serves them well throughout the story. The sisters respect those differences. For example, in Chapter 4 Elizabeth says to Jane "Oh! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life."

    Their relationship with each other is by far stronger than any other relationship in the story and one gets the impression that after they marry they will still be close.

    #8: THE POOR PARENTING TECHNIQUES OF MR. AND MRS. BENNET     Mr. and Mrs. Bennet make repeated mistakes in parenting. First they favor certain children. Mr. Bennet favors Elizabeth and then Jane and tells the other three that they are the silliest girls in England. Mrs. Bennet favors Lydia and allows Lydia to get away with anything she wants. Lydia repeatedly insults Mary and takes Kitty's possessions. Neither Mr. or Mrs. Bennet do anything.

    Mrs. Bennet sends Jane off into a coming rainstorm to visit Netherfield for the purpose of getting her sick so that she would have to stay there many days. As Mr. Bennet sarcastically comments:
    "Well, my dear," said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, "if your daughter should have a dangerous fit of illness, if she should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders." Vol. 1, Chapter VII.
    The Bennets allow Lydia to go to Brighton, despite Elizabeth's warnings. They do not reign in or discipline the younger girls. Mr. Bennet is distant and relatively uninvolved, but then the model of the involved father didn't come into vogue until 150 years later.

    The Bennets criticize each other in front of the children and do not consult before making decisions so that the children can see a united front. They undercut each other frequently. An example of this is when Mrs. Bennet asked Mr. Bennet's help in persuading Elizabeth to accept Mr. Collins' proposal. Instead of talking to his wife about a common position and trying to convince her to change her mind, Mr. Bennet completely undercut his wife by calling Elizabeth in without telling his wife what he was going to do. He then announced that while her mother would never talk to Elizabeth again if she didn't marry Mr. Collins, that he (Mr. Bennet) would never talk to Elizabeth again if she did. Vol I, Chapter XX. This provided for humor in the book and the movies while at the same time displaying the dysfunctional nature of the parenting provided by the Bennets.

The comparison of the various characters and the contrast of the experiences of the several couples are the key to understanding this story.

Each person who writes about these stories develops their own list of themes. These are the themes that strike us. Others will extract different themes from Pride and Prejudice.

Austen poses universal questions in a microcosmic setting: How can a complex person maintain his or her individuality and freedom in a world of social pressures and restrictions? How do preconceived notions affect people's relationships? Study Guide for Pride and Prejudice from the Glencoe Literature Library.

Another reference to the source of Elizabeth's pride:

       "His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favor, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud." ---- "That is very true," replied Elizabeth, "and I could easily forgive his pride if he had not mortified mine."

Was Elizabeth Justified in Believing Wickham?

Wickham seemed sincere. Not wanting his sister's name to be sullied, Darcy had not disclosed to his "general acquaintance" what Wickham had done. The only information that Elizabeth received against Wickham was from Miss Bingley, a source that Elizabeth found to be untrustworthy. In addition, Miss Bingley accused Wickham of "nothing worse than being the son of Mr. Darcy's steward ..." Vol. I, Chapter XVIII.

Jane reported that Mr. Bingley was "quite ignorant of the circumstances" but that he vouched for the "probity and honor" of his friend Mr. Darcy. Bingley had never met Wickham. Elizabeth quite correctly discounted Bingley's impression. Ibid.

The characters of the story accept the fact that, on occasion, even men marry for money or financial security. Before Elizabeth realized that Wickham made a practice of attempting to seduce young girls as a way to an easy life, she understood the allure for him of a young woman with a fortune:

Maria Lucas: Who's that girl dancing with Mr. Wickham?

Elizabeth Bennet: Her name is Mary King.

Charlotte Lucas: She's come to stay with her uncle in Mereton.

Maria Lucas: She's not very pretty, is she?

Charlotte Lucas: Beauty is not the only virtue, Maria. She has just inherited a fortune of ten thousand pounds, I understand.

Mrs. Gardiner: Now that is a definite virtue.

Descriptions of the life of the poor in early 19th century England are almost entirely missing from the writings of Jane Austen. She depicted what she knew, the life of the middles and upper classes.

Donald Sutherland (Mr. Bennet in the 2005 version): "It's a novel about women. It's not about men. It's not about Darcy. It's about Jane Austen trying to deal with the terrible restrictions that are being imposed upon women." JASNA web page on the new movie version of Pride and Prejudice. This is an interesting point of view which has a kernel of truth. However, Darcy is the only character in the story who fundamentally changes his world view by discarding his pride of social position and his prejudice against those of inferior status. Elizabeth reacts to this change in him, but her world view remains the same. And so, the story, especially as portrayed in the 1995 version, is about both women and men.

One of the enduring beauties of this story are the many contrasting characters and couples that are used to explore its themes.

Mr. Bennet: An unhappy alternative lies before you. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.

Pride and Prejudice is like a multifaceted cut gem, with each facet being the comparison of one character to another. It is a gem that glistens in the light of understanding.

DIALOGUE: (Darcy/Bingley Contrasted)

Mr. Bingley: Darcy, I shall never understand why you go through the world determined to be displeased with everything and everyone in it.

Mr. Darcy: And I will never understand why you are always in a rage to approve of everything and everyone that you meet.

Elizabeth to Jane after Bingley has proposed: If you give me forty such men I couldn't be as happy as you. I would need your goodness for that.

Elizabeth on Lady de Bourgh: "Mr. Collins ... speaks highly both of Lady Catherine and her daughter; but from some particulars that he has related of her ladyship, I suspect his gratitude misleads him, and that in spite of her being his patroness, she is an arrogant, conceited woman." Vol. 1, Book XVI

Here is another example of Austen's ironic tone from Chapter 4 of the novel. The narrator is describing the Bingley sisters: "They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humor when they were pleased, nor in the power of being agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town [in London], had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank, and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother's fortune and their own had been acquired by trade."

Elizabeth [is] one of the most intriguing female characters in fiction. Austen is known for her complex and appealing heroines. As one critic noted: For the first time in English literature, outside Shakespeare, we meet heroines who are credible,with minds, with the capacity to think for themselves, with ambition and wit. . . . . Study Guide for Pride and Prejudice from the Glencoe Literature Library.

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    Differences Between Male Characters in Austen's Novels and in the Movies

    Jane Austen's novels were a conservative reaction against the romantic literature of the early 1800s. This is shown in the severe restrictions on emotional display by men, hearkening back to the rational world view of the Enlightenment. Men always struggled against their emotions. In Darcy's case it was the emotion of love. His first proposal to Elizabeth was prefaced with: "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." He then goes on to dwell on the problems he had acknowledging his love: the concerns over Elizabeth's inferiority; his distress over the inferiority of her family. All of these were " ... obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination." Most modern film adaptations of Jane Austen's novels, by adding and subtracting scenes and by the facial expressions, sighs, longing looks and other nonverbal indications by the actors, modify Austen's portrayal of men by showing them to be more emotional than the male characters in the novels and showing that they accept that emotion. These changes make Austen's stories more interesting and acceptable to the modern mass audience.

    An Austen male hero "equates courtship with emotional restraint and proves his worth by enacting that equation until a climactic event forces an emotional display that, in turn, forces courtship into marriage." The aversion to emotional display by the men in Austen's novels extends even to discussing their efforts to help others. An example is Darcy's refusal to tell Elizabeth of his efforts to help Lydia, no matter how much good it would have done him in his courtship of Elizabeth. In Sense and Sensibility, Edward Ferrars intends to go forward with his secret engagement to Lucy Steele without revealing his true feelings to Elinor. Colonel Brandon will not tell Marianne about Willoughby's indiscretions despite the fact that in doing so he would have eliminated a rival who was obviously favored by Marianne. In Emma, Knightley waits for an inordinately long time to declare his love for Emma despite being a close friend for many years. Even success in courting is characterized by restraint. The film adaptations of Emma and Persuasion, end in a kiss which is completely absent from the novel. Austen's criticisms of male emotionality is confirmed by her anti-heroes, such as Willoughby. They are emotionally extravagant and ultimately unsuccessful.

    Masculine emotionality is at odds with Austen's own critique of "sensibility." In the modern day re-creation of these characters, it is clear that "sensibility" has triumphed over the "sense" that Austen sought to champion. While the portrayal of men in the films turns on its head Austen's view of the way men should act when courting, these changes may provide an interesting basis for discussion with students about changes in accepted courting behavior over time and the benefits of making film versions of classic novels when substantial changes in the plot or the characters are required for commercial success.

    In the 2005 version Darcy remains true to the unemotional character drawn by Ms. Austen and, for modern viewers, the film suffers as a result. Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, displays some emotionality and the character is enhanced as a result.

The quotation and the substance of this section are taken from "Balancing the Courtship Hero - Masculine Emotional Display in Film Adaptions of Austen's Novels", contained in Jane Austen in Hollywood, Troost and Greenfield, Editors. The quotation is from page 25.

The following scenes have been added or substantially modified in the 2005 version to show male emotionality:
    (1) Darcy taking off his clothes and diving into the pond as he returns to Pemberley;

    (2) Darcy's night of pacing back and forth while writing a response to Elizabeth's rejection of his marriage proposal (in the novel the text of the reply is revealed as Elizabeth reads it, not as it is written by an emotionally distraught Darcy);

    (3) when Elizabeth, searching for the Bingley party, interrupts Darcy playing billiards alone; he is startled and agitated by this encounter with an intensity of response beyond what one would normally expect; and

    (4) the fencing practice in which Darcy tries to divert his energy from thinking of Elizabeth. In addition, Darcy is shown staring at Elizabeth, smiling at Elizabeth, gazing into space, and brooding. Ultimately, Darcy becomes "an awkward hero tortured by an excess of emotions he cannot express" (Ibid at page 31).


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  See Questions Suitable for Any Film.


    2.  There are four young couples featured in this story. Describe how the experiences of three of these couples relate to the story's major themes.

    The following two questions are designed to be asked in sequence.

    3.  Describe the themes of this story which relate to the society in which the story is set.

    4.  Describe the themes of this story which relate to interpersonal relationships. (Some themes relate to both the broader society and personal relationships. Do not include any themes that you discussed in your answer to the preceding question.)

    5.  Assume that after Mr. Collins proposed to Charlotte but before she had accepted, she had discussed her plans with Elizabeth. What points would Charlotte have made in support of marrying Mr. Collins and what points would Elizabeth have made opposing such a marriage?

    6.  Mr. Collins' letter to Mr. Bennet contains the following statement: "I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters and beg leave to apologize for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends ..." What did Mr. Collins have in mind? What was ironic about the statement? What relationship does this irony have to at least two themes of the story?

    7.  Elizabeth Bennet had many things to overcome before she found the man she wanted to marry. Some of these were internal and some external. Name four of them.


    8.  Many have said that the "pride" in the title of this work refers to Darcy and that the "prejudice" refers to Elizabeth. The truth is somewhat different. What is it?


    9.  List four things that influence a person's first impression of another person. Which are valid and which are not?

    10.  What was Elizabeth's first impression of Darcy? Was it justified?

    11.  What was Darcy's first impression of Elizabeth? Was it justified?

    12.  Like Darcy, Elizabeth made an error in her early evaluations. What was it?

    13.  Have you ever had a first impression of someone that you later found out to be incorrect? What happened? Does it relate at all to the themes of this story?

    14.  Do you agree that first impressions are not to be trusted, or do you rely upon your immediate, intuitive response to people?


    15.  Mr. Collins thought that there were several reasons why Elizabeth should look favorably on his proposal of marriage. What were they?

    16.  Charlotte Lucas says, "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance." What does this statement reveal about her? Do you agree with her statement? Explain.

    17.  There are three examples of marriages that are shown in this story to be problematic. What are they and what are their problems?

    18.  What is the role of the Gardiners in this story. (Mr. Gardiner, who lives in London, is the brother of Mrs. Bennet. He serves as the front for Mr. Darcy's efforts to help Lydia.)


    19.  What is the role of money and property in this story?

    The following four questions are designed to be asked in sequence:

    20.  What is entail and what is its role in this story?

    21.  What is primogeniture and how does it relate to entail? What effect do they have on society?

    22.  What did Thomas Jefferson and the American Revolutionaries think of primogeniture and entail?

    23.  If the story of Pride and Prejudice had taken place in the U.S. of the early 1800s, how would it have been different?

    24.  Rank the following characters in the film in order of their class standing in the English society of the day and explain your rankings. Note that Mr. Bingley's father got his wealth in the trades and Charlotte Lucas' father also made his money in trade but he was knighted by the Queen when he served as mayor of the town. Rank the following: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Sir William Lucas, Mr. Bennet, and Mr. Wickham.

    25.  It is often said that Austen criticizes the class structure of English life in the early 1800s. However, many people are missing from this critique. Who are they?


    26.  Does Wickham's situation show that the society of the time restricted men, as well as women? Was there any other way for Wickham to live than to marry a rich girl whose relatives would pay for the privilege of having Wickham as a son-in-law or to avoid a scandal?

    27.  What would have happened if Darcy had not been able to buy Wickham off?

    28.  In the society portrayed in this story, what is the future for unmarried women without wealth of their own?


    29.  Two people in this story marry for money. Who are they and how are they portrayed?


    30.  Evaluate the parenting techniques of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Give specific examples of poor and good parenting shown in the story.


    31.  Why is Elizabeth such a popular character?

    32.  There was something really positive and caring toward the Bennet family that Mr. Collins showed by seeking a wife among the Bennet daughters. What was it?

    33.  Mrs. Bennet describes Elizabeth as headstrong when Elizabeth refuses to accept Mr. Collins' marriage proposal. Present the arguments supporting Mrs. Bennet's position.

    34.  What are the most important differences between Elizabeth and Jane? How do they relate to the difference between Bingley and Darcy?

    35.  Reflecting on the good fortune of herself and her sister Jane, Elizabeth says (in the novel): "I am the happiest creature in the world. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh." What does this tell you about the differences between Elizabeth and Jane?

    36.  Which character in this story grew the most?

    37.  Compare Wickham and Bingley. They are alike in some ways and they are different in some ways.

    38.  What conflict did Darcy have to resolve before he could allow himself to pursue a relationship with Elizabeth?

    39.  The character of Mr. Collins has many purposes in this story, some relating to theme and some relating to plot. Describe at least two of them.

    40.  Name two good things about the character of Mr. Collins. There are actually four (some of them are a stretch, but they work).

    41.  Is Mr. Collins really concerned about the fact that his benefit from the entail of Mr. Bennet's estate should hurt the Bennet sisters, or is he pretending to be concerned for the sake of show?

    42.  Name two characters in the story with no positive traits.

    43.  This question relates to the 1995 BBC version of the movie: What would the film have been like had the screenwriter remained true to the novel in the portrayal of the male characters? Do you think it is right for filmmakers to substantially modify Austen's text and message to make the story palatable to modern audiences?

    44.  What does Elizabeth's response to Mr. Collins' proposal tell us about her character?

    45.  What does Elizabeth's response to the proposal of Mr. Collins and to Mr. Darcy's first proposal tell us about her character?

    46.  What are the differences in character between Jane and Elizabeth?

    47.  What is the role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in developing the themes of this story?

    48.  Elizabeth says, "There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me." Give two examples.

    49.  What is the role of Mr. Wickham in explicating the themes of the story?


    50.  What is the role of Mr. Wickham in advancing the main plot of the Elizabeth/Darcy romance?

    51.  What is the climax of the action in this novel?

    52.  Describe the main plot and the subplots in this story.

    53.  There are many examples of irony or ironic statements in this story. Name them and, for each, tell us how they relate to themes of the story.

    54.  In terms of the family relationships at the end of the story, what is the most ironic?


    55.  Opening lines of books are important to tell us what the book is about. The opening line of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous in English literature. It is: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." What does this opening sentence tell us about the issues that will be treated in the story and what does it presage about how those issues will be treated?

    56.  Jane Austen's novels continue to be read almost 200 years after they were written. The stories have been repeatedly made into movies. Describe why this is true. Discuss at least theme and plot.

    57.  Darcy and Elizabeth, by exposing Wickham, could have prevented him from seducing Lydia. Do they bear any responsibility for what happened to Lydia because they kept quiet? Were they wrong in failing to expose Wickham?

    58.  Describe some social conventions that exist today. They may be spoken or unspoken.

    59.  Lady Catherine asks Elizabeth, "Are any of your younger sisters out?" What does she mean by this?

    60.  On one occasion, Elizabeth was at home by herself when, "to her very great surprise, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy only, entered the room ...." What rule of etiquette did these two violate when they proceeded to have a discussion and Mr. Darcy didn't immediately leave?

    61.  Pride and Prejudice has often been criticized for the fact that it appears unconcerned with the politics of Austen's day. Is this charge fair?

    62.  Name two differences between accepted social behavior shown in the film and modern social behavior.

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

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Darcy: The fault is mine so must the remedy be.

As actress Keira Knightley said, "The reason [Elizabeth's] character has lasted as one of the favorite female roles in English literature is that any woman who reads the book sees herself as Elizabeth Bennet." JASNA web page on the new movie version of Pride and Prejudice.

    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


    See the discussion questions under MARRIAGE SHOULD BE FOR LOVE; NOT WEALTH OR SOCIAL STATUS

    1.  When Darcy proposed to Elizabeth the first time, he told her of his pride and "His sense of her inferiority -- of its being a degradation -- of the family. Obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination ...." What was he talking about?

    2.  In a society in which there are different social classes and the members of one class consider themselves to be "superior" to the other classes, can there be a true romantic relationship between a member of the "superior" class and a member of an "inferior" class? (In other words, in Jane Austen's England, can there be a solid romantic relationship between an aristocrat and a member of the middle class?)

    3.  What will you consider when you chose a life partner?

    4.  On several occasions Darcy cannot talk easily to Elizabeth. Why is that?

    5.  Do you agree or disagree with the following statement by Charlotte Lucas? "If a woman conceals her affection [for a man] ... she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor consolation to believe the world equally in the dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely -- a slight preference is natural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement. In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better shew more affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on."

    6.  Describe the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and compare it to the marriage that Darcy and Elizabeth expect to have.
  For suggested answers:    click here.

    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts) Using The Six Pillars of Character

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)

    1.  Can members of different social classes, one considered "inferior" to the other, truly respect each other? Defend your answer.


Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics. For suggested answers:    Ethicse">click here.

    Bridges to Reading: For Parents: Encourage your child to read Pride and Prejudice after seeing the film. The book is much more detailed than the film and contains language, incidents and descriptions not shown in the film. Perhaps parents could read the book at the same time as children. As you read, discuss what is happening to the various characters and what they are doing about it. Parents can also watch the film with their children and go over some of the discussion questions.

MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: Other excellent film adaptations of Jane Austen novels include: Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion.

    Assignments, Projects and Activities:

    • Assignments, Projects and Activities Suitable for Any Film.

    • Interview someone from an older generation. Ask if acceptable social behavior has changed in his or her lifetime. Use the response to create a chart that compares and contrasts the social rules in the two generations, yours and your interviewee's. Topics to cover include: language (slang and profanity), greetings, farewells, kissing, touching, relations with parents, curfews, supervision, and dress. Pride and Prejudice Study Guide from the Glencoe Library.

    • Have students discuss as a class or in small groups their ideas about marriage. What factors do they think help make a good marriage? How important do they feel marriage will be in their lives? What would they look for in a life partner? How much must the values in their life coincide? What are their ambitions? Are they consistent with yours? What do they enjoy doing for fun? Do they want to have children? If so, how many and when? What religious faith or philosophy will they want to pursue and use in raising the children? Will they commit themselves to the duality that is a strong marriage?

    • Have the class write another ending to the story based on the following changed facts. The new endings should be evaluated as to how they exemplify the themes of the story and the characters in it.
      Assignment: Write another ending to the story given the following changed facts. Characters should act in ways that are consistent with their actions in the story. Your ending should be consistent with the themes of Pride and Prejudice. Add to your ending the fact that after he pays off Wickham, but before he proposes to Elizabeth for the second time, Darcy suffers a catastrophic financial loss. Pemberley must be sold and he is left almost penniless. He must now work for a living and cannot afford servants. He has lost all of his connections with people like Bingley. They will no longer associate with him because he has lost his wealth, and with it his social standing. Elizabeth, having heard of Darcy's efforts on behalf of Lydia, now learns that he has lost all his property. At the same time a new suitor for Elizabeth arrives on the scene. The man is handsome, accomplished, and wealthy. He has made an excellent first impression on Elizabeth as to his intelligence and breeding. However, while she is fond of the new suitor, she knows her heart belongs to Darcy. Darcy writes her a letter telling her all and repenting that he tried to keep Jane and Bingley apart. He tells her that he has scraped together enough money for passage to the United States. He hopes that in America he will have more opportunity as a man without inherited wealth, connections or social standing. What will she do?

      Some Suggestions: Here are some interesting alternatives: (1) Elizabeth knows she loves Darcy and doesn't care about wealth. She decides she wants to marry him. (This is consistent with the themes that marriage decisions should be based on affection and that wealth should not be taken into consideration. It is consistent with the character of Elizabeth, but it is out of character for Darcy to ask Elizabeth to marry him a second time when he cannot support her.) After she receives Darcy's letter Elizabeth tracks him down and insists that he marry her. Together they emigrate to the United States. (2) In the entire story of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth has never taken an affirmative action to get what she wants. She has turned down suitors and thanked Darcy for his help, but she has never totally broken the rules for social acceptance. Making sure that she will not act on an erroneous first impression this time, she takes a lot of time to get to know the new suitor. By this time Darcy has gone to the U.S. Should she wait and hope he will be successful and come back for her? Will she go after him? Or will she accept the new suitor and ensure that her family is financially secure?
    • Assignment: Write another ending to this story but assume that Elizabeth politely rejects Mr. Darcy's first proposal but does not explain why. (The end result is that they don't get together because Darcy will never have an opportunity to unburden himself about Wickham.)

    • Assignment: Change the facts so that Elizabeth never discovers that Darcy helped Lydia. How will this affect the ending? What will happen?

    • Mr. Collins often expresses his views about marriage in the novel. Ask students to write and deliver a sermon by Mr. Collins on marriage. Have students decide, before writing the sermon, on the context in which the sermon is to be delivered (for example, after his own marriage, during Lydia's disappearance, or around the time of Elizabeth's marriage to Darcy).

    • Students can create cartoons satirizing the fashions, social attitudes, or characters in Pride and Prejudice. Set up a classroom gallery to display the finished cartoons.

    • Review with students how Mrs. Bennet is baffled and angered by the entailment of her husband's estate. Ask students to research and write a paper explaining the practice of entailing an estate in England, why estates were entailed, and what impact entails had on families.

    • To better the language of Jane Austen, select a few scenes and read them in a class or group setting. Then discuss the themes of the story that were involved in the passage and any literary devices used by Austen. Examples include: the first three paragraphs of the book; Collins proposal; Darcy's first proposal; the scene of Elizabeth's last visit to Rosings; the scene in which Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam talk about Darcy; Darcy's second proposal.

Are you concerned that time will be wasted if you are absent from class? Worry no more  .  .  .   Check out TeachWithMovies' Set-Up-the-Sub.

    Bibliography: In addition to websites which may be linked in the Guide and selected film reviews listed on the Movie Review Query Engine, the following resources were consulted in the preparation of this Learning Guide:

    • "Balancing the Courtship Hero - Masculine Emotional Display in Film Adaptions of Austen's Novels" and
    • "Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility as Gateway to Austen's Novel" contained in Jane Austen in Hollywood, Edited by Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield, 1998, University of Kentucky Press.
    • Searching for Jane Austen by Emily Auerbach, University of Wisconsin Press, 2004

    Attributions: Many thanks to Jennifer Elizabeth Briasco, a high school student from "The Republic of Pemberley," for her valuable corrections to the 2004 version of this Guide.

    Last updated April 11, 2010.

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