Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Analyzing Margaret Laurence's Work
Margaret Laurence recreated her home town of Neepawa as the fictional town of Manawaka in five classic works of Canadian literature. These books are her most famous: The Stone Angel, A Jest of God, The Fire Dwellers, The Diviners, and A Bird in the House.
Have students write a scholarly
essay that analyzes Margaret Laurence's books. Topics might include: Social
injustice, pride, fear, survival, alienation, isolation, freedom, duty,
independence, journey/quest, relationships, male-female relations, relation of
the past to the present, love, conflict, history and myth, childhood and
adolescent experiences, and regional tradition.
To gather information about Laurence and her works, students will need to conduct a web search the CBC Digital Archives website and other online resources. They should read at least one of her Manawaka novels (Stone Angel, A Jest of God, The Fire Dwellers, and The Diviners) or her book of short stories, A Bird in the House. The essay should be unified, well-organized, and free of slang, clichés, and sentence fragments.
Students should make clear notes as they research, and be sure to cite all sources used. Using their notes, students complete an outline and a draft of their essay, edit their work, and then complete a good copy of the scholarly essay.
Have students hand in their essays. You may want to have students summarize their analysis for the class, and then follow these summaries with a class discussion that compares students' views about Margaret Laurence.