The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Increase student understanding of 'The Birthday Party' by Harold Pinter with this lesson plan. Students will watch a video lesson that provides a summary and overview of themes, analyze aspects of the play, then do a culminating activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter
  • identify and explain themes in The Birthday Party
  • explain the genre of The Birthday Party


1 - 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2

Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3

Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10

By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.


Key Vocabulary

  • Theatre of the Absurd

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Preparation Note: As you and students read through acts in The Birthday Party, have them record summaries.
  • Start this lesson by asking students to think of a part of their life that is predictable and they would consider routine, boring and everyday. Share an example from your own life, such as Sunday dinners at your parent's house.
  • Once students identify a routine and simple part of their own lives, give them five or ten minutes to journal about it. What makes it everyday? Why is it boring? How do students feel about this event? Do they take comfort in the routine or is it getting boring?

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