Pride and Prejudice is a British novel written by Jane Austen. It is not a modern but a classic novel. I am attracted by its setting of upper class society of early 19th century in England.
The title of the book Pride and Prejudice (originally called First impression) suggests that sometimes we are misguided by our arrogance and perceive things and people wrongly. In fact, we are often misled by our first impression of others. This is what happens between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in the book. When they first meet, they hate each other. Elizabeth regards Mr. Darcy as an arrogant man and Mr. Darcy thinks Elizabeth is not pretty enough. However, things turn out very differently at the end of the book. They both find out that they are attracted to each other and eventually get married.
My favourite character in this book is Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennet. She is a very intelligent and lively girl though she is not as beautiful as her elder sister, Jane Bennet, who gets married with Mr. Darcy’s close friend, Mr. Bingley later. She is not as silly as her younger sisters, who are only interested in shopping or hanging around with militia officers, either. In spite of her lower social status (because of her mother), she acts like a lady and shows her wit and talents appropriately.
I would recommend this book to those who want to know more about what life was like in upper class society of early 19th century in England. There are several film and TV adaptations and my favourite one is 1995 version by BBC starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, who also stars in Bridget Jone’s Dairy as Mark Darcy, a character created based on Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.
There’s no doubt that William Shakespeare is such a famous writer that even people in non-English speaking countries have heard about him. Although his plays are regarded as English literature and it seems that they are not easy to be understood by teenagers, they are written originally for leisure for people at the time only.
The Merchant of Venice is one of the most famous comedies written by Shakespeare. Antonio, who is a merchant of Venice, covers a bond for his friend, Bassanio, for his travel to Belmont to woo a beautiful and wealthy young lady, Portia. However, Antonio cannot settle the bond on time because of an accident and the usurer, Shylock, asks for the alternative, a pound of flesh, from Antonio. Portia and Bassanio comes to rescue him at once but Bassanio has no idea that Portia disguises herself as a young lawyer and makes Shylock lose all his money by declaring that Shylock tries to take the life of Antonio. At last, Antonio and Bassanio finds out the truth and all the problems are resolved.
Shylock is the ‘villain’ of the play because of his job (the usurer, a job which is looked upon by others at that time and even up till now) and his trap of taking Antonio’s life by asking him a pound of flesh to cover the bond. In fact, the name of a recent movie ‘Seven Flesh’ is a metaphor borrowed from this play to show the debts paid by a person who is remorseful to what s/he has done. Anyway, this character is very outstanding and famous because of the complexity created by his job, his race (a Jew) and thus his social status and religion.
The play is suitable for students of both junior and senior students. Students can choose different versions according to their proficiency of English.