British Imperialism: Lessing's “No Witchcraft for Sale”
This lesson is part of my 12th grade unit on British Imperialism. If you are interested in purchasing the entire unit as one bundle, it is available here.
I use this lesson as part of my larger Imperialism Unit which is aimed at studying the literature of the era to uncover the perceptions and emotions of individuals caught on both sides of Imperialism. The concept of Imperialism involves the major work of nations (war, exploitation, servitude, enslavement), yet the literature exposes the conflicts, emotions, and true human nature of those people who lived within the social and political systems. I want my students to understand that there are people, relationships, conditions, choices, and motivations in every era of history; it is easy to judge historical events and figures from our contemporary standpoint, but it is important to remember that everybody has a back-story. These stories reveal that the relationships within the Imperialistic social structure were not always what they seemed.
This lesson includes:
A PDF of Lessing's text “No Witchcraft for Sale” which is available in many 12 grade literature books.
Guiding discussion questions requiring close reading and critical thinking. The questions encourage students to look for clues about characterization, motivation, and shifting power structure in relationships.
Creative writing prompt requiring students to take on the persona of one (students have a choice) of the characters as they reflect on their relationships with the each other.
Identification level short answer quiz on the text to ensure that students have done the reading.
Depending on your pacing, and if you assign portions of this work as homework, there are @ 1.5 classes of viewing, reading, interacting, discussion, and writing.
This is a relatively easy text to read. Class discussion centered on how the social structure pressured and changed the relationships. It is also interesting to note gender roles in the story. My students were interested in the idea that Gideon, as a medicine man, held great power within his culture yet was reduced to the role of servant. They also discussed the role of religion in the story.
Key words: British Imperialism, Lessing, Short Story, Characterization, Motivation, Conflict, Critical Thinking, Writing, CCSS aligned