Temptation in the Garden: Analyzing Satan's Character

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SWBAT demonstrate their ability to analyze a complex character and his impact on the meaning of a text by participating in reading groups and discussion with book 1 of Paradise Lost.

Big Idea

Milton's dilemma: How do you "justify" the ways of God to men AND make Satan into a hero at the same time?

Close reading and discussion over Paradise Lost book 1

35 minutes

Today we will dive right into Paradise Lost Book 1. The students had a few pages of reading as homework, so I will start by asking them for any clarifying questions on vocabulary or plot. I will then ask them to move into their Faulkner squares. Faulkner squares are mixed ability groups, similar to Kagan grouping, that my teaching partner and I created within our seating charts. There are four students per group and they sit near each other so they can form tables for activities like these. My students will work in these groups to compare annotations and discuss the following questions:

  • What is Milton doing with the setting? How do these parts of the text help us to sympathize with Satan?
  • What patterns do you see in Milton's narrative style? What purpose does this serve?
  • What is Satan trying to do? Is he successful?

These discussions are meant to promote the standard of character analysis (RL.9-10.3), but will be very informal as they are meant to serve as scaffolding for Friday's activity. I want to make sure they are comprehending the plot and understanding how Milton is using Satan's character development to further his rhetorical purpose. This will hopefully set them up for Friday and Monday's summative assessment of both Book 1 and 9.

On a side note, I also decided to truncate (see video: Paradise Lost Review for an explanation) what the students need to read in this passage. This is partly because of time, but mostly because I want to make sure that they are focusing on what I would like them to focus on, which is mainly Milton's rhetoric.


Wrap up and Next Steps

10 minutes

I think 10 minutes is a little optimistic here, but any time that is left, I will ask for students if they have any questions and check in with them on their comprehension as yesterday they definitely struggled.


10 minutes

We will end class today with our reading time so students can read their choice novels without having to worry about Paradise Lost. This move is also so that I can hold them accountable to their homework from last night. I don't want them to use their reading time to play catch up.