Literary Analysis, Critical Thinking, and…Breaking Bad

Written by Scott

Topics: Faith, Family, Homeschooling

breaking bad

As the dad of a homeschooling, one-income family, I don’t often get (or take, for the sake of semantics) the opportunity to assign projects.

But in my own high school experience, I had an amazing teacher (also was my debate coach) who taught the importance of critical thinking and literary analysis, and taught both exceedingly well with a variety of classic novels. And much like almost every book (well, the classics, at least…not so sure about a lot of pop culture fiction these days), well-written, well-produced and well-directed TV shows and movies contain some fantastic symbolism and commentary about human nature.

Case in point: Breaking Bad.

I’d started watching a while back, but the two oldest had wanted to watch, so we’ve been watching through the series with them [on final season now, so no spoilers!], and thought the show would be a perfect specimen to analyze.

I won’t delve into the analysis yet, but here’s the assignment that I gave the two oldest:

Choose 3-5 traits that you’ve observed notably changing in Walter White’s character in Breaking Bad (i.e. physical changes, personality changes, attitude changes, etc).

What is the symbolism or deeper meaning behind each?

What do the changes collectively indicate about our choices and their consequences, and in particular our choices and their effect on us?

How does this compare or contrast with the changes seen in the Smeagol-to-Gollum transformation in the LoTR books?

I left it fairly wide open, with the emphasis being for them to think about things at more than just the surface.

Should be interesting.


By the way, the entire Breaking Bad series is available on DVD as well as by individual seasons/shows via Instant.