Pride and Prejudice Introduction
by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice book cover
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Introduction

So you’re going to teach Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic novel has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its challenging elements, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. Through sophisticated storytelling, it will give them exposure to the mechanisms of 19th-century upper-middle-class English culture, which they’re likely to find in some ways bizarre and in others strikingly familiar. This guide highlights the text’s most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching. 

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Facts at a Glance 

  • Publication Date: 1813
  • Recommended Grade Level: 9 and up
  • Approximate Word Count: 121,900 
  • Author: Jane Austen 
  • Country of Origin: England 
  • Genre: Novel 
  • Literary Period: English Regency 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Society 
  • Literary Devices: Irony, Satire, Realism 
  • Narration: Third-Person 
  • Setting: Turn-of-the-19th-Century English Countryside 
  • Tone: Witty


Texts that Go Well with Pride and Prejudice

Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding. This clever repurposing of Pride and Prejudice provides an engaging way for readers to draw connections between Austen’s world and more recent times. (The novel was written and set in the 1990s.) Note that Bridget is sexually active and prone to foul language, which could make the book inappropriate for some students. 

Clueless is a comedy film released in 1995 which transposes the plot of Jane Austen’s Emma to a Beverly Hills high school. It is now considered a cult classic, and the transference of Regency society to a familiar context can illuminate for students parallels between the restrictive world of Austen’s characters and their own. 

Emma, by Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is the most popular of Austen’s novels, but Emma is held in higher esteem by many literary scholars. In it, Austen creates a heroine with fundamental flaws and slyly makes readers complicit in her misdeeds. 

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Of all the famous English novels of the 19th century, Pride and Prejudice and Frankenstein are arguably the two that have had the broadest cultural impact and the most enduring popularity. They share little in common—one is a witty comedy of manners, the other a Gothic horror story—but the fact that they were both written by women and published within five years of one another makes them an interesting study in contrasts. Giving students some biographical background about Shelley will help them understand that not all of England was as bound by convention as the segment of society Austen portrays. 

Jane Eyre , by Charlotte Brontë, was published in 1847 (under the male pseudonym of “Currer Bell”). Brontë hated Austen’s work, both for its perceived repression of strong emotion and for the effect it had on expectations for female...

(The entire section is 705 words.)