Analyzing how Complex Characters Change and Develop in “The Birthmark”

13 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT analyze how complex characters change throughout the story and develop the theme by reading an adapted text of “The Birthmark" and answering teacher made analysis extension questions.

Big Idea

Is she is really "the best the earth can offer."


10 minutes

To access prior knowledge as well as review, my activator is a vocabulary quiz from the words we reviewed the day before and will be found in the short story  "The Birthmark."  Students are given the quiz which included a word bank because word banks help struggling readers retrieve information and provide a context in which they can feel more successful in completing the vocabulary task.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

The Common Core standards require students to not only analyze complex characters but determine how they advance the plot or develop the theme. I use a character graphic organizer to support this understanding.  

I give out a blank Character Map and review the different ways a reader can analyze a character. Students are told that they will fill in the different sections of the map as the characters unfold during the story.

I then review the literary terms which define a character L.9-10.4 . I project the terms on a screen using a docucamera.  Students write the definitions on their character maps and are told to refer to the definitions when learning about each character.

To check for understanding I use the "Cold Call" technique, Why Cold Call? by calling on random students to explain in their own words what each term means: flat, round. dynamic, static characters, and protagonist. 

Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

I tell my students that we will begin to read adapted version of “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorn. I give my students an adapted version of "The Birthmark" because many of my students are struggling readers and would have difficulty reading the original version of the text independently. My goal is to increase their reading stamina but I first feel I have to increase their self-concept as a student who can read independently therefore increasing their successful experiences reading text.

Using a gradual release teaching method, I read the first two paragraphs aloud and then discuss evidence for characterization, setting, and theme. Before I ask them to silently read the next two paragraphs I tell them that I will be asking the question, "How Alymer's love for his wife can become even stronger?"  I gradually have them read additional paragraphs prompting their reading with a question that will be asked of them. 

During the reading students need to do a few tasks that will increase their comprehension and analysis of the characters. The main task is to fill out a Character Map (12) which will assist them in analyzing the complex characters changes and motives in this short story RL.9-10.3. A second task is to annotate the text as they read by writing comments in the margins and circling vocabulary words and characters names. The last task is to fill in basic Story Web organizer as they read or after they complete reading the short story. A story web can improve students' comprehension and many of my sturdents benifit from using a framework for identifying the elements of a story.  This web helps students who are of varying abilities, to organize information and ideas efficiently. This scaffold organizer addresses standard RL.9-10.10 which requires studetns to read and comprehend literature, including stories, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

As they are reading and completing these guided reading tasks, I circulate among them keeping them on track and answering any questions they may have.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

For the Wrap Up activity I ask students to fill out a One Word Summary which consists of the Topic Word: Protagonist.  They then write Write 1-2 sentences explaining their word choice or the word chosen to help them remember the topic word, protagonist. I chose this wrap up because I want them to reflect on who the protagonist is and how the main character's development created the conflict with the antagonist.

Who is the protagonist? We will discuss this during the next lesson.  Some may choose Aylmer because he's the one around whom the story revolves. His desires drive the story. Some students may sympathize with Aylmer's intentions, which he truly believes to be good. 

If they choose Aylmer as the antagonist, they would then name Georgiana as the protagonist. She is wronged by the antagonist (Alymer), she is basically innocent, and she suffers because of his obsession of perfection.  If they read this story as a tragedy then they will most likely pick her as the protagonist.