English teacher Bridget Wright reading Pride and Prejudice to her senior English class in the spring of 2023.
By Bridget Wright
My seniors spent the dregs of winter and the early days of spring reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While many find the novel’s exploration of love and social class timeless, in order to fully appreciate the story, one must first understand the social context in which it was written. We learned about the Regency Era, and students noticed that much of the novel is, as an infamous Amazon review of the story notes, “just a bunch of people going to each other’s houses.” We discussed how the plot is far more driven by emotion and perception than by action. Some of the most pivotal scenes take place in sitting rooms and parlors, often over tea.
In April, the sun was starting to shine again, the snow had melted, and the end of senior year was hovering just over the horizon. Reading this text was difficult for most of my students, so I wanted to end with a celebration. Our final discussion took place on the patio outside the Alumni Dining Commons. There were tablecloths, homemade scones with clotted cream and jam, tiny triangle tea sandwiches, and a beautiful assortment of china teacups and saucers usually reserved for Senior Tea. We held a tea party, celebrating our knowledge, and putting ourselves, if only for an hour, into our own little version of Regency Era England. It is a truth universally acknowledged that hard-working seniors, in possession of strong opinions, must be in want of class discussion. Or at the very least, a good cup of tea.
Bridget Wright is an English teacher and a dorm parent who has been teaching at Lincoln since 2022.