Teacher Guide

We Have Always Lived in the Castle Lesson Plan

Introduction to We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Published in 1962, We Have Always Lived in the Castle was Shirley Jackson’s final novel before her untimely death in 1965. Told from the perspective of 18-year-old Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, the novel focuses on the lives of Merricat, her older sister Constance, and her uncle Julian in the wake of the murders of the rest of their family.

The novel contrasts the female power of the Blackwood sisters with the male authority of their father and cousin Charles. The power men wielded over women in the 1950s was a deeply personal issue for Jackson: even though she was the primary breadwinner of her family, her husband controlled the money she earned.

Though not as famous as Jackson’...

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