The Fall of the House of Usher Lesson Plan

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

This lesson plan will lead students to understand how setting, point of view, and diction work together in Edgar Allan Poe's ~'The Fall of the House of Usher~' to achieve a desired effect. An included creative writing activity provides a chance to assess mastery while also teaching a related writing standard.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain how diction, setting, and character work together in '' The Fall of the House of Usher'' to create an emotional effect on the reader
  • write using diction, setting, and character to create an intended effect

Length

60-90 minutes

Key Vocabulary

  • Diction
  • Setting
  • Character

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. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.3.D

Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.

Materials Needed

  • Whiteboard
  • Sticky notes
  • Printed copies of The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

Instructions

  • Begin by reading The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe. The vocabulary for this story is dense and can be difficult, so read approximately half of the story aloud to the class, then have them finish it individually. Use the first part of the reading to reinforce skills in using context clues to determine word meaning and model looking up unknown vocabulary.
  • Distribute sticky notes to students (3-5 each) and have them write a single word on each note. The words they choose should be ones that they believe are particularly important because they describe the setting, characters, or main ideas of the story.
  • Invite students to place their notes on the whiteboard (or a wall). As they place their notes, ones that are the same word should be added on top of or close to one another.
  • After the words are all placed, call upon volunteers to group the words and explain their categories. Several groups of words should be related to suspense, terror, or corruption.
  • Lead a class discussion on how the word choice influences the reader's interpretation of the setting and the narrator.
  • Play the Study.com video lesson Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher: Summary and Analysis, pausing at 7:20.
  • Explain Poe's theory of unity of effect and how it relates to this story, particularly in the way that character, setting, and diction work together to create an effect. Lead a whole class discussion on how these elements in ''The Fall of the House of Usher'' create the ultimate effect of terror, suspense, and a sense of corruption.
  • Finish watching the rest of the video lesson.

Activity

  • To demonstrate their understanding of this concept, have students choose a single scene from the story (around a half-page in length on the written copy of the story).
  • Their task is to rewrite this scene to create a new effect: the feeling of guilt. They must change point of view, choose new diction, and switch the description of the setting to achieve this new effect.
  • Allow 15-20 minutes for writing, then call upon volunteers to read their revised stories.
  • After each reading, discuss how students used the point of view, diction, and setting to achieve the effect of guilt.
  • Wrap up with a whole class discussion that returns to Poe's story. Now that students have first-hand experience with the use of these writing tools, how do they see Poe using point of view, setting, and diction to create his overall effect that combines terror, suspense, and corruption?

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