Moby Dick Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Teaching students the key elements of Moby Dick is no simple task. This lesson plan streamlines instruction by featuring a group activity that is supported by two informative video lessons.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • list key characters from Moby Dick
  • summarize the plot of Moby Dick
  • identify themes and symbols in Moby Dick
  • outline the character of Captain Ahab
  • cite textual references from Moby Dick


1.5 to 2 hours


  • This lesson plan is designed for students who have read Moby Dick.

Curriculum Standards


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.


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.


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).


Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.


Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).


Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.


  • Create a worksheet for students using quiz1 and quiz2


  • Begin by dividing the class into four groups. Group one will be in charge of listing key characters. Group two is the plot group. Group three will cover themes/symbols and group four will go in-depth on Captain Ahab.


  • Instruct each group to work together to plan a fact-filled three- to five-minute skit on their assigned topic using what they learned by reading Moby Dick. A minimum of three lines of text must be integrated in each group's skit to support their analysis. Allow approximately 30 minutes for planning and preparation.

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