The Cask of Amontillado Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Edgar Allan Poe and his works are some of the most famous and influential in literature, with his short story 'The Cask of Amontillado' often credited as being the perfect short story. Use this lesson plan to guide your instruction on the Dark Romantic story, highlighting Poe's use of irony and the plot diagram through a video and an engaging activity.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • outline the plot of The Cask of Amontillado
  • analyze the short story for irony and unity of effect, and as a Dark Romantic work

Length

  • 60-90 minutes

Materials

  • Copies of The Cask of Amontillado, one for each student
  • Two differently-colored highlighters, a pair for each student
  • Poster board or chart paper
  • Markers, crayons, and/or colored pencils
  • Access to a computer to print out pictures, if available

Curriculum Standards

  • 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.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.5

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.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.6

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).

Key Vocabulary

  • Unity of effect
  • Plot diagram
  • Irony
  • Dark Romanticism

Instructions

  • If students have not already done so, have them read the short story The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe in groups. Have them highlight pieces of the story that don't make sense to them in one color (e.g. yellow) and key points and memorable quotes in another color (e.g. green)- explain that you will come back to their questions and they will use the key points and quotes for an activity later on.
  • Once students have finished reading the story, ask them what questions they have about what they have read. Write these questions on the board for later. If there are many confusing areas, ask students to just look over their confusing sections (yellow highlights) and assure them that you will come back to them after the video and activity.
  • Have students watch the lesson Poe's The Cask of Amontillado: Summary and Analysis, pausing for key terms and the following points of understanding and discussion:
    • 4:11 - Make sure students understand the main plot points of the short story. Do we ever learn what motivates Montresor?
    • 4:24 - Why is The Cask of Amontillado considered Poe's perfect piece? Do you agree?
    • 6:13 - How does Poe's story follow the plot diagram? Give firm examples of each stage of plot development.
    • 7:36 - Ask students to name elements that they think are ironic and write them on the board.
    • 8:23 - How is this story an example of Dark Romanticism? How does the timing of the setting reinforce that?

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