Masking Fear: A Focus on Characterization in Poe's "Masque of the Red Death"

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SWBAT analyze how Poe's central character, Prince Prospero, portrays the elements of Gothic literature through collaborative small-group discussion.

Big Idea

Trying to escape, Poe's Prince Prospero is reveling and drinking those moments when the redness of death hits him.

Intro & Welcome: It's National Educational Support Professionals Day!

2 minutes

It's also "Rocky and Bullwinkle Day." As students settle at the bell, I note both to the students, and ask them to thank the parapros, secretaries, custodians, and other staff that keeps the school running

Since I note Daily Holidays to build a sense of community, it only makes sense to add those that help build our school community to the list of those we recognize. I hope students can see the hard work that everyone puts in for them, and give as much back as they get.  

Small-Group Discussion: Decoding Gothic Elements

40 minutes
Continuing from yesterday, students are in groups of three to address the design of Prospero's palace, and the Prince's characterization. As noted yesterday, I chose groups of three in order for students to be able to collaborate, and focus effectively. One student can be drawing the setting, one student can be adding in the appropriate color, and one student can be cross-checking the details in the story. Additionally, when students begin discussing the questions, there are three minds to draw conclusions from; I have found that in more "open" assignments such as this one, in contrast where each group member has specific roles, four or more students allows for easy distraction. I "randomized" groups by numbering off in order to ensure students would collaborate with a variety of their peers, not solely their friends.

Student did not get "quite" as far as I had hoped yesterday, so they need time to complete the "map" of Prince Prospero's apartments in order to analyze specific details of setting. Additionally, the primary objective for the students is to discuss a set of questions in order to analyze how those setting details from the map reflect the character of Prince Prospero (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2) and how Prince Prospero's complexity and "eccentricity" advance the themes and Gothic elements of the story (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3); ultimately, as a whole class, we discuss how his madness led him to believe he could escape death. 

As students wrap up their maps and continue with discussions, I circulate the room, engaging the students' discussion on Prospero and gauging their understanding of the details that shape the story and its themes. As students respond to the assigned questions, they get practice to propel the conversation, address the specifics of the story and the broader themes of the Gothic and the inevitability of death, and clarify each other's opinions and responses (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c). 

Two (Well, Five) Minute-Warning: Wrap-Up & Extension

5 minutes

With five minutes remaining in the period, I as for students' attentions. For homework, students are to read their textbook's introduction to "Ralph Waldo Emerson" and recap the reading on Transcendentalism that was addressed in the jigsaw reading that introduced the time period (as always, homework assignments are posted on the classroom whiteboard). I then ask students to return their markers and colored pencils to the bins in the room, and return their desks to rows. The extra time at the end to class is to account for this transition.