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KS3/4 English: Persuasion 2 (1995)

Explore Austen's presentation of characters' emotions through film

Main image of KS3/4 English: Persuasion 2 (1995)
AuthorJessica Hardiman
TopicJane Austen's Persuasion
Key Words Austen, Persuasion, dinner, Anne Elliott, Captain Wentworth
Show full lesson spec

Anne Elliot reads a letter from Captain Wentworth.

A useful extract for teaching Austen's characterisation.

This lesson idea uses the film to compare Austen's presentation of the letter, and the events following it, with the film's adaptation. Students will analyse how effectively character emotions are portrayed on film, and will consider how suitable the adaptation is in conveying the key ideas and the details of this extract from Austen's text.

Lesson Objective

  • To produce a comparative analysis of written and cinematic characterisation


Students read 'The Letter' episode of the book. Divide the class into two groups. Each student individually should write a list of instructions for the actress/actor playing Anne Elliot or Captain Wentworth (depending upon his/her group). If possible students should highlight specific key words/phrases from which they can infer that certain thoughts/emotions should be portrayed by the actress/actor. The students should also make brief notes in their texts about why they think such an thought/emotion should be portrayed at that particular point.

More able students should also try to relate their notes to the wider context of the book when completing this activity, to encourage them to look at Austen's general presentation of the particular character. Brighter students might also work on annotating the thoughts/emotions of the minor characters featured in this scene. How would the minor characters influence the visibility of the other two characters' emotions, and what instructions would they give to the actors/actresses playing these minor characters to try to convey this to the viewer?


Main Attraction

Feedback from the starter, making a list of the key thoughts/emotions experiences by the two key characters (Wentworth and Anne). Make two lists of these thoughts/emotions, one for each character. Ask the extension group to comment on what difference the minor characters would make to the portrayal of these key thoughts/emotions by Wentworth and Anne.

Ask the students to pay close attention to their lists as they watch the extract. Students should tick off the thoughts/emotions they noticed in the text when they notice them in the film extract. The students could also take one character each, and the group could again be divided in two, perhaps this time so that each group focussed on the character they did not work on in the starter, so that the students gain a more balanced view of both key characters.

The students feedback to one another about what the director chose to make obvious to the viewer in this extract. The students then discuss how the director managed to portray emotions which were meant to be secret, and what use was made of film effects to make the scene more vivid for the viewer (e.g. voice over, close-up etc).


End Credits

The students write a paragraph about how the director portrayed the key emotions of one of the key characters, using evidence both from the text (to show what the key emotions were) and from the film (to describe how the emotions and thoughts were portrayed). The students should comment on how effective they felt the director's portrayal was.

Extension: students write about how the director made use of film effects in order to make this scene, and its presentation of key thoughts and emotions more vivid.


External Links

Video Clips
1. The letter (5:38)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

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Thumbnail image of Persuasion (1995)Persuasion (1995)

Read more about this film

See also

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