Why I Love Pride and Prejudice.

History with Heart of Dakota

What’s so special about Jane Austen?

When it comes to classic literature, Jane Austen’s books will always have a special place in my heart. What makes her easier to read than, say, Sir Walter Scott, is that her lively sense of humor transcends time periods and is still easily-understandable in today’s age. Where most authors of her time kowtow to the societal structures of the Regency Era, Jane enjoys poking fun at their foibles. As she says through the voice of Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, “For what do we live, but to make sport of our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” (Austen 407)

Nonetheless, she is not so slap-happy with her sarcasm that she pokes fun at everything indiscriminately. She paints true virtues in positive tones and portrays wrongdoing without making light of it. As a rule, she respects what is respectable, detests what is detestable, and laughingly pokes fun at everything in between.

Another strength of Jane Austen’s literature is that her characters feel unshakably-real. Rather than being flat, the majority of them have relatable strengths or weaknesses. The way they think and act seems uncannily familiar – even to 21st century readers.

These qualities are all especially evident in Jane Austen’s magnum opus: Pride and Prejudice.

Historical backdrop

In today’s world of empowered women, it is difficult to imagine the different world that was the Regency Era. At that time, the options women of low social standing had were quite limited. While men were able to get an education at universities such as Cambridge, women were unable to attend such universities. Also, aside from employment as governesses, there were extremely restricted avenues for women to earn money through employment. (Even Jane Austen herself, though she earned some money through the sale of her novels, was very much the exception and not the norm.)

Finally, there was little-to-no chance of women being able to inherit an estate. (This would only be allowed in rare cases by privilege of nobility.) Therefore, in order to obtain financial security, women were expected to marry – and marry well. In the midst of all this – at a time where ladies were expected to be ornamental and materialistically-minded – Pride and Prejudice’s main character enters the scene.

Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth Bennet is easily one of my favorite protagonists of all time. While she generally stays within the boundaries of civility expected of her as a lady, she is teasingly-defiant of some of society’s sillier conventions. She is not so reverent of social politics that she is afraid to laugh at their inconsistencies. Rather, she is irreverently-unimpressed by the distinctions which title and rank alone could afford a person. She differs greatly from Regency Era expectations of women to be seen and not heard – even going so far as to tease some of the novel’s most formidable gentry!

Nonetheless, Elizabeth shows good sense and intelligence where it is necessary. Though she is a flawed character who has weaknesses like any other person, she readily admits where she was wrong and does not remain stubborn and unyielding for long. As a reader from modern times, I find Elizabeth Bennet to be a breath of fresh air from the traditional heroines of books from that era. Not so progressive as to be obnoxious, Elizabeth Bennet nevertheless exists in a manner that outclasses her times.

Timeless themes

Another reason Pride and Prejudice is so timeless is because its themes are still relevant in today’s culture. A key theme is to never judge someone based on your first impression. (Fun fact: Jane Austen originally titled the book “First Impressions” before settling on “Pride and Prejudice”.)

Another key theme is the wisdom of choosing who you marry carefully. This is especially relevant today! Many young people (myself included!) have questions about relationships on their minds. They want to see what a healthy relationship looks like. They want to see what character traits to look for in someone they might date/court. Tired of being hoodwinked by Hollywood, they  hunger to know what love really looks like.

This, my friends, is where Pride and Prejudice shines! It is far more than a manners and morality tale; it is an honest look at what character traits make a man or woman. In the novel, you see the good, the bad, and the ugly. You see stupidity, selfishness, and pride put on full display. But you also see character traits reminiscent of the Proverbs 31 woman and the Ephesians 5 man shining for all to see.

Ultimately, Pride and Prejudice perceptively demonstrates that while marriage is a huge blessing, rushing headlong into marriage often does more harm than good. “Marriage alone is not a virtue,” Jane Austen seems to counsel us. “It’s who you marry that makes or breaks your success.”

Where in HOD can you find Pride and Prejudice?

You can find Pride and Prejudice in the English credit section of our US History II high school curriculum. For those who want to dive deeper into the Pride and Prejudice experience, there is an option that includes an excellent BBC miniseries adaption starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. (Personally, I would highly-recommend seeing it; it’s true to the book and the acting is FANTASTIC!)

References:

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. (Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2004).

Why do you use specific editions of literature in high school?

Dear Carrie

Why do you use specific editions of literature in high school?

In looking at Heart of Dakota’s high school literature, I like what I see. I’ve seen some high school literature programs that just have too many books too soon. Or, I’ve seen others that never ramp up enough to prepare my children for college. You’ve found a good balance, and I just plain love your book choices! So, I’m definitely doing Heart of Dakota’s literature. I have no questions about that. My question is actually about the book editions themselves. My daughter is starting with World History’s literature, as we unfortunately didn’t find Heart of Dakota until her sophomore year. I see specific versions of the books are necessary. I’m sure there is a simple explanation, so I apologize if this is a silly question. But, why do you use specific editions of literature?  Thanks in advance!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Explain Why Certain Editions of Literature Are Used in High School”

Dear “Ms. Please Explain Why Certain Editions of Literature Are Used in High School,”

This is a good question, and I am glad you asked! First, each day of plans has specific page numbers to be read. So, if you have a different edition, the page numbers will be off, and your student will be left unsure where to start and to stop reading each day. Second, and even more importantly, the plans direct students to specific pages for their follow-up work. For example, the plans may have students underline a specific passage on page 186. Then, they may find a specific quote on page 217. Next, they may search for allusions to certain Scripture on page 238. So, each part of the plans draws out something special from the book! This helps us walk with the students hand by hand, as they journey through its pages!

Details About World History’s Literature

In World History’s literature plans, Days 1, 3, and 4 follow a similar pattern. The literature box is broken up into “Introduce,” “Read and Annotate,” “Select,” and “Reflect.” “Introduce” gives a little background or something to watch for or think about in the day’s reading. “Read and Annotate” assigns pages to be read and expects the students to annotate as they read. Often a specific annotation is given to the kiddos to help them learn to annotate better and to key them into important nuances within the narrative. “Select” requires students to select a passage to copy in their Common Place Book. “Reflect” is a written Literature Journal style reflection based on the day’s reading with topics ranging from Biblical/life applications to literary themes/elements to character motives/descriptors to Scripture connections/Godly character traits, etc.

Specific editions of books make all the difference in the world!

With as many pages as they are reading each day, searching through them for answers without the intended aid of the page numbers to locate them upon is incredibly frustrating! Not to mention, kiddos’ work probably isn’t a true reflection of all they are capable of doing. Using the wrong editions of books leaves kiddos frustrated, unable to do their best work, and working much longer to complete assignments than intended.  In contrast, using the right editions of books helps kiddos fully enjoy their reading, equips them to do their best work, and aids them in completing their assignments in a doable amount of time. Specific editions of books make our plans special, and they make all the difference in the world!

Blessings!

Carrie

What high school literature should I use for my 10th grader who used DITHOR for 9th grade?

Dear Carrie

What high school literature should I use for my 10th grader who used DITHOR for 9th grade?

Dear Carrie,

My 15 year old 9th grader is using Resurrection to Reformation with extensions. He is also using Revival to Revolution’s  writing and science, with at-level grammar, DITHOR, and math. Next year for 10th grade, he will use Revival to Revolution with extensions. He will also use Missions to Modern Marvels’  writing, with World History science/health, and at-level math and grammar. However, I’m unsure of what to use for his high school literature component.

I have two ideas! My first idea is to continue using DITHOR for high school literature for 10th grade. He’s using 5 genres of the 6/7/8 level this year for 9th grade. So, the following year, I could finish the rest of the genres and maybe double up on one to make 5 genres again for 10th grade, but use harder books than HOD lists for 7/8. My second idea is to use World Geography’s  BJU literature set. His reading level is certainly high enough to handle 10th grade literature. It’s difficulty with organization and time management that has kept him in lower guides, not comprehension. Or, is there a third idea you might have? By the way, thanks Carrie and Julie for helping me with the rest of the plan earlier! Although sometimes a bit busy, using multiple guides for different level subjects has worked really well for him!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Choose High School Literature for My Son’s 10th Grade Year”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Choose High School Literature for My Son’s 10th Grade Year,”

We are so happy to hear your son’s year has gone well! As far as literature for 1oth grade goes, it would be fine to do the high school literature from the World Geography guide. In the event that doing all of BJU Lit and the accompanying novels feels a bit heavy for your son, one option you could consider is to split the World Geography Guide literature, doing only the novels from World Geography along with DITHR Student Book 6/7/8 this year and then doing the BJU lit the following year (when your son uses the World Geography guide for his writing along with MTMM). So, this will give you a back-up plan to consider.

Looking Ahead to Make a Plan for High School Literature

If you can look ahead and plan for your son to do the high school literature from the World History guide as written for either his junior or senior year, that would be good. Also, if your son is required to do American Literature for any future college entrance, then you would do that his senior year. If the American Literature is a necessity, then you would likely do the World Geography guide’s lit this year without splitting it in order to get to the American Literature in the USI guide before graduation. In that case, if you get into this year and feel the literature with both BJU and the novels is too heavy, you could do just the BJU Lit without the novels and then move onto the World History high school literature the following year. So, these are all options that would work!

Blessings,

Carrie