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KS3/4 English: Mansfield Park (1983)

Exploring Mrs. Norris's characterisation on the page and on screen

Main image of KS3/4 English: Mansfield Park (1983)
AuthorJessica Hardiman
TopicMansfield Park; Chapter three
Key Words Austen, Mansfield Park, class, satire, Mrs. Norris, Fanny Price, Lady Bertram
Show full lesson spec

A BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel about Fanny Price.

This short extract is a useful starting point when exploring Austen's characterisation.

This lesson idea uses the film to focus students on analysing Austen's methods of characterisation, giving specific examples and developing this into a cogent argument. The lesson also develops this by asking students to compare Austen's characterisation with the director's representation of this on screen. Students should feel more confident at comparative analysis by the end of the lesson.

Lesson Objective

  • To develop a number of pieces of textual evidence into a cogent argument
  • To produce a comparative analysis of written and cinematic characterisation


Students read the chapter and then annotate in groups, by taking a section of the text each. Section one of the text begins at the start of chapter three and ends "As soon as she met with Edmund, she told him her distress". Section two follows this directly and ends "...and as much for your ultimate happiness, too." Section three is the rest of the chapter.

Students should note down the feelings of the characters about the possibility of Fanny leaving to live with Mrs. Norris, and the impression they gain of Mrs. Norris from reading their extract. This exercise should revise the students' ability to find evidence from the text and allow them to practise gathering a selection of evidence about a particular character.


Main Attraction

Students should feed back from the starter their impressions, so that the class has a fully annotated chapter. The feedback should focus primarily on the character on Mrs. Norris, and the opinions of her held by the other characters that the reader infers. The class should have a full impression of Mrs. Norris by the time they have fed back..

Now ask the students to watch the extract of Mrs. Norris (which focuses purely on her reaction to Lady Bertram's conversation with her about Fanny moving to stay with her). The students should make notes on how effectively the actress playing Mrs. Norris (Anna Massey) presents the aspects of her character the students have learned from reading about her.

The students orally feedback their ideas about this having watched the extract, and the class discuss whether the adaptation gives any other impressions of Mrs. Norris's character.

If time allows, the class could, in two groups, write notes on how they would dramatise the two short scenes of chapter three which precede this (that is, sections one and two of the chapter from the starter).

As an extension to this main activity, students might also consider what the direction/camera angle adds to the viewer's understanding of Mrs. Norris.


End Credits

The students should write a paragraph explaining how Austen gives the reader an impression of the character of Mrs. Norris in chapter three, and also explaining how far the actress in the film adaptation conveys this to the audience.

If time allows, the students should read out their paragraphs to one another, and make notes underneath their own paragraphs with extra information. If the students are doing literature coursework involving another character, ask the students to practise this aspect of their coursework by completing a paragraph about this.


External Links

Video Clips
4. Mrs Norris (2:58)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

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See also

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Explore Austen's presentation of characters' emotions through film

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Compare two directors' portrayals of Elizabeth's first visit to Pemberley

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Sense and Sensibility (1981)KS3/4 English: Sense and Sensibility (1981)

Comparing descriptive language with descriptive techniques in film

Thumbnail image of Jane Austen on TelevisionJane Austen on Television

TV's takes on English literature's most perceptive and subtle satirist