Edgar Allan Poe Unit

1809-1849

Written and compiled

 By Michelle K. Tjelmeland

Poe.bmp (42934 bytes)

Overview of unit Objectives of unit Materials needed for unit Benefits of technology
Lesson One:

Poe’s Life

Lesson Two:

Tell Tale Heart

Lesson Three:

Cask of Amontillado

Lesson Four:

The Raven

Overview of Unit:

8th grade students will participate in a two-week Edgar Allan Poe unit that integrates the use of technology via the Internet, computers, special purpose software, Real Audio, and videos.  This unit will be taught during Core Exploratory class.  Core Exploratory class serves as an extension of language arts class. During Core Exploratory Class students are to study language arts related units that would not be able to studied due to time constraints and other curriculum requirements in the regular language arts class room. 

Objectives of Unit:

Students will participate in a technology-integrated unit about Edgar Allan Poe.

Students will visit the Poe on-line museum, take a tour of the on-line museum, research information about Poe, and present findings through small and large group discussion, respond to worksheet questions, and respond to assessment activity.

Students will watch a video of Poe's life that will re-emphasis findings on the Internet and other research.

Students will listen via Cd-rom, Real Audio, and record player to Poe’s work

Students will read The Tell Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Raven written by Edgar Allan Poe.

Students will watch a biography of Poe’s life, The Cask of Amontillado, The Raven, and The Tell Tale Heart via videotape or CD-ROM.

Students will participate in small and large group discussions about the readings and videos.

Students will respond to questions about each of Poe's works.

Students' knowledge will be evaluated through authentic assessment upon completion of each Poe lesson.

 Materials needed for Unit:

* Indicates that material is provided within this unit

*Text or on-line versions of The Cask of Amontillado, The Raven, and The Tell Tale Heart.

Cd-Rom of The Tell Tale Heart                    

Videos of The Cask of Amontillado and The Raven

Computer(s) downloaded with Real Audio and with Internet capability

Television and VCR

*Text version of:  The Cask of Amontillado, The Raven, and The Tell Tale Heart for student and teacher reference

*Hand outs that include questions for small and large group discussions about: Poe’s life, The Cask of Amontillado, The Raven, and The Tell Tale Heart.  

*Authentic Assessment activities      

Benefits of technology:                            

This unit greatly integrates technology.  Without the use of technology students would not be able to explore Poe's on-line museum, listen to Poe's works through Cd-rom or Real Audio, or record player or watch videos of Poe's work.  Integrating technology into this unit will help accommodate various learning styles of all students within the classroom. 

Contents of each lesson:

Each lesson contains the following information:

Time frame for lesson

Objectives of lesson

Materials needed for lesson

Teacher references and resources

Text version of Poe’s work

Decoding of Poe’s work

Teacher Key(s) for lesson

Authentic assessment for lesson

Student handouts for lesson

Alignment of Edgar Allan Poe Unit with Illinois Learning Standards

 

Edgar Allan Poe’s life:  lesson one

 

 

Time frame for lesson one:

4 - 50 minute class periods

 

Objectives of lesson one:

Students will be given an introduction to Poe by teacher and discuss information they may already know about Poe as a class.

Students will visit Poe’s on-line museum and take an on-line tour at http://www.poemuseum.org.

Students will use Encarta and Grolier’s CD-ROM encloypedias to research factual information about Poe in small groups.

Students will answer biographical information about Poe.

Students will watch a biographical video about Poe entitled Biography:  Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849.

Students will be given a springboard of questions related to Poe for individual assessment.

 

Materials needed for lesson one:

 

Computers will Internet capability and CD-ROM

CD-Rom of Grolier’s and Encarta encloypedia

Worksheet with questions about Poe’s biographical information

Biographical video about Poe entitled, Biography: Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849-available through Amazon.com for $12.99

Springboard of questions related to Poe for student assessment

 

Teacher references and resources for lesson one:

Early Life and Work

Poe's parents were touring actors; both died before he was 3 years old, and he was taken into the home of John Allan, a prosperous merchant in Richmond, Va., and baptized Edgar Allan Poe. His childhood was uneventful, although he studied (1815-20) for 5 years in England. In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia but stayed for only a year. Although a good student, he ran up large gambling debts that Allan refused to pay. Allan prevented his return to the university and broke off Poe's engagement to Sarah Elmira Royster, his Richmond sweetheart. Lacking any means of support, Poe enlisted in the army. He had, however, already written and printed (at his own expense) his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), verses written in the manner of Byron.

Temporarily reconciled, Allan secured Poe's release from the army and his appointment to West Point but refused to provide financial support. After 6 months Poe apparently contrived to be dismissed from West Point for disobedience of orders. His fellow cadets, however, contributed the funds for the publication of Poems by Edgar A. Poe ... Second Edition (1831), actually a third edition -- after Tamerlane and Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829). This volume contained the famous To Helen and Israfel, poems that show the restraint and the calculated musical effects of language that were to characterize his poetry.

Editorial Career

Poe next took up residence in Baltimore with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia, and turned to fiction as a way to support himself. In 1832 the Philadelphia Saturday Courier published five of his stories -- all comic or satiric -- and in 1833, MS. Found in a Bottle won a $50 prize given by the Baltimore Saturday Visitor.
Poe, his aunt, and Virginia moved to Richmond in 1835, and he became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and married Virginia, who was not yet 14 years old.

Poe published fiction, notably his most horrifying tale, Berenice in the Messenger, but most of his contributions were serious, analytical, and critical reviews that earned him respect as a critic. He praised the young Dickens and a few other contemporaries but devoted most of his attention to devastating reviews of popular contemporary authors. His contributions undoubtedly increased the magazine's circulation, but they offended its owner, who also took exception to Poe's drinking. The January 1837 issue of the Messenger announced Poe's withdrawal as editor but also included the first installment of his long prose tale, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, five of his reviews, and two of his poems. This was to be the paradoxical pattern for Poe's career: success as an artist and editor but failure to satisfy his employers and to secure a livelihood.

First in New York City (1837), then in Philadelphia (1838-44), and again in New York (1844-49), Poe sought to establish himself as a force in literary journalism, but with only moderate success. He did succeed, however, in formulating influential literary theories and in demonstrating mastery of the forms he favored -- highly musical poems and short prose narratives. Both forms, he argued, should aim at "a certain unique or single effect." His theory of short fiction is best exemplified in Ligeia (1838), the tale Poe considered his finest, and The Fall Of The House Of Usher (1839), which was to become one of his most famous stories.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) is sometimes considered the first detective story. Exemplary among his musical, mellifluous verses are The Raven (1845) and The Bells (1849).

Virginia's death in January 1847 was a heavy blow, but Poe continued to write and lecture. In the summer of 1849 he revisited Richmond, lectured, and was accepted anew by the fiancée he had lost in 1826. After his return north he was found unconscious on a Baltimore street. In a brief obituary the Baltimore Clipper reported that Poe had died of "congestion of the brain."

Robert Regan

Bibliography for lesson one:

Source: The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia.

Further Information and Links for lesson one:

Index to the Edgar A. Poe Biography

An extensive cross-referenced biographical project by Christoffer Nilsson, maintainer of Qrisse's Poe Page. Also includes many images.

Poe killed by rabies?

Prof. Paul P. Reuben has an interesting article concerning an alternative explanation of Poe's death in "Perspectives in American Literature".

Memoir

From Complete poems of Edgar Allan Poe / [by Edgar Allan Poe]; collected, edited, and arranged with memoir, textual notes and bibliography by J.H. Whitty (1911). Long file (510KB)

E. A. Poe in his time

Which gives some more details on Poe's grandparents and parents, as well as a few more details of his life.

 

 

Teacher Key

Directions:  Read the biographical information about Poe and respond to the following questions.

 

1.     What year was Poe born?  1809

 

2.     What did his parents do?  Actors

 

3.  How old was Poe when his parents died?  3

 

4.     Who raised Poe?  The Allan’s

 

5.     How long did Poe spend with the Allan’s?  1811-1827; until out of college

 

6.     Where did Poe’s attend his academic years? Attended University of Virginia and West Point Academy

 

7.     Why did Poe quit college?  Ran up large gambling debt

 

8.     At what age did Poe publish is first poem?  18 in 1827

 

9.     Why did Poe drop out of West Point Academy? Purposely got kicked out because he did not like it.  Finally realized he and his father would never get along; no longer cared what his father thought.  Purposely disobeyed orders and got dismissed from West Point Academy.

 

10. From 1831-1835 whom did Poe live with?  Aunt

 

11. What was bizarre about Poe’s marriage?  He married his cousin.

 

12. When and where did Poe enjoy his most productive and content years?  Most productive and content years were living with his aunt and being married to his cousin.

 

13. How did Virginia die?  Tuberculosis

 

14. What happened to Poe after his wife died?  Poe went crazy after his wife died.  He was extremely grief stricken.

 

15. Where was he buried?  Baltimore

 

16. Record any other facts that you found interesting about Poe’s life.

 

 

 

 

Student activities related to lesson one:

 

 

Directions:  Read the biographical information about Poe and respond to the following questions.

 

2.   What year was Poe born?

 

3.     What did his parents do?

 

3.  How old was Poe when his parents died?

 

5.     Who raised Poe?

 

6.     How long did Poe spend with the Allan’s?

 

7.   Where did Poe attend his academic years?

 

8.     Why did Poe quit college?

 

9.     At what age did Poe publish is first poem?

 

10. Why did Poe drop out of West Point Academy?

 

11. From 1831-1835 whom did Poe live with?

 

12. What was bizarre about Poe’s marriage?

 

13. When and where did Poe enjoy his most productive and content years?

 

14. How did Virginia die?

 

15. What happened to Poe after his wife died?

 

17. Where was he buried?

 

18. Record any other facts that you found interesting about Poe’s life.

 

 

 

Assessment activity for lesson one:

 

Students will be given the following questions to use as a springboard. Teacher will assess the students’ knowledge of Poe through response of students’ answers.

 

1.     What do you know about Poe?

2.   Where could you find information out about Poe?

3.  How did you feel about the information you have learned about Poe?

4.  What did you learn from class discussion, using the Internet, CD-ROMS, and watching the video about Poe?

5.  What interesting things did you discover about Poe through you research?

6. What did you observe during your research activities related to Poe?

7.   What do you think people thought about Poe during the time he was alive?

8.  Compare and Contrast Poe with another writer you have studied.

 

 

 

 

Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell Tale Heart: Lesson Two

 

Time Frame for Lesson two:

2 or 3-50 minute class periods

 

Objectives of lesson two:

Students will be given a brief overview of The Tell Tale Heart written by Poe and discuss information they may already know about the story as a class.

Students will be given a copy of The Tell Tale Heart to follow as they watch and listen to the story via CD-ROM on computer monitor.

Students will answer questions related to The Tell Tale Heart in small groups.

Students will discuss the answer to questions as a class.

Students will answer questions to an authentic based assessment provided by teacher.

 

Material needed for lesson two:

Hard copy of The Tell Tale Heart for each student in the class.

CD-ROM of Poe’s Tell Tale Heart

Computer equipped with CD-ROM with a large monitor for student viewing

Questions related to The Tell Tale Heart

Artifact box made my teacher for student assessment

 

Teacher references and resources for lesson two:

Text of Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

True! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! And observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees --very gradually --I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded --with what caution --with what foresight --with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it --oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly --very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously --cautiously (for the hinges creaked) --I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights --every night just at midnight --but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers --of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back --but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily. I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out --"Who's there?" I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; --just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief --oh, no! --it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself --"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney --it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel --although he neither saw nor heard --to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little --a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it --you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily --until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye. It was open --wide, wide open --and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness --all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot. And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense? --now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! --do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me --the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once --once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eve would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye --not even his --could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out --no stain of any kind --no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all --ha! ha! When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock --still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, --for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises. I smiled, --for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search --search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: --It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness --until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears. No doubt I now grew very pale; --but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased --and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound --much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath --and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly --more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men --but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed --I raved --I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder --louder --louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! --no, no! They heard! --they suspected! --they knew! --they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now --again! --hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous heart!"

 

Decoding of Poe’s Tell Tale Heart for use with student discussion and explanation of story by Martha Womack

Setting

The story covers a period of approximately eight days with most of the important action occurring each night around midnight. The location is the home of an elderly man in which the narrator has become a caretaker.

Characters

This story contains a nameless narrator, an old man and the police who enter near the end of the story after the mention, that they were called by a neighbor whose suspicions had been aroused upon hearing a scream in the night. The protagonist or narrator becomes the true focus of the tale. This narrator may be male or female because Poe uses only "I" and "me" in reference to this character. Most readers assume that the narrator is a male because of a male author using a first person point of view; however, this story can also be plausible when the deranged protagonist appears as a woman. Most critics would argue this point by saying that Poe would "assume" that the reader would "know" that the protagonist was male, therefore, he would see no need to identify his sexless narrator. However, Poe was a perfectionist who left very little to guesswork. Could it be that this was no accident or something that he thought would be universally understood, but that Poe was creating a story whose impact could be changed simply by imagining this horrendous and vile deed being committed by a woman?

Point of View

Poe writes this story from the perspective of the murderer of the old man. When an author creates a situation where the protagonist tells a personal account, the overall impact of the story is heightened. The narrator, in this particular story, adds to the overall effect of horror by continually stressing to the reader that he or she is not mad, and tries to convince us of that fact by how carefully this brutal crime was planned and executed.

Style and Interpretation

Poe's story is a case of domestic violence that occurs as the result of an irrational fear. To the narrator that fear is represented by the old man's eye. Through the narrator, Poe describes this eye as being pale blue with a film over it, and resembling that of a vulture. Does the narrator have any reason to fear the old man or his eye? Is it this phobia that evokes the dark side, and eventually drives the narrator to madness? Or could Poe be referring to a belief whose origins could be traced back to Greece and Rome?

The belief in the evil eye dates back to ancient times, and even today, is fairly common in India and the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. References are made to it in Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu faiths. The belief centers around the idea that those who possess the evil eye have the power to harm people or their possessions by merely looking at them. Wherever this belief exists, it is common to assign the evil eye as the cause of unexplainable illnesses and misfortunes of any kind.

To protect oneself from the power of the eye, certain measures can be taken. In Muslim areas, the color blue is painted on the shutters of the houses, and found on beads worn by both children and animals. There is also a specific hand gesture named the "Hand of Fatima," named after the daughter of Mohammed. This name is also given to an amulet in the shape of hand that is worn around the neck for protection. In some locations, certain phrases, such as " as God will" or "God bless it" are uttered to protect the individual from harm. In extreme cases, the eye, whether voluntarily or not, must be destroyed. One Slavic folktale relates the story of the father who blinded himself for fear of harming his own children with his evil eye.

Would Poe have had knowledge of this rather strange belief? It is altogether possible that he would have, which creates another interesting twist to this story. Maybe the narrator, who tries to convince us that madness is not really the issue, is telling the truth. Maybe this vile act is necessary in order to destroy the power of the old man's evil eye!

Theme

Human nature is a delicate balance of light and dark or good and evil. Most of the time this precarious balance is maintained; however, when there is a shift, for whatever reason, the dark or perverse side surfaces. How and why this "dark side" emerges differs from person to person. What may push one individual "over the edge" will only cause a raised eyebrow in another. In this case, it is the "vulture eye" of the old man that makes the narrator's blood run cold. It is this irrational fear which evokes the dark side, and eventually leads to murder. The narrator plans, executes and conceals the crime; however, "[w]hat has been hidden within the self will not stay concealed...." (Silverman 208) The narrator speaks of an illness that has heightened the senses: "Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heavens and in the earth. I heard many things in hell." The narrator repeatedly insists that he(she) is not mad; however the reader soon realizes that the fear of the vulture eye has consumed the narrator, who has now become a victim to the madness which he had hoped to elude.

Teacher Key for lesson two

Directions:  Read the following questions about The Tell Tale Heart and respond with appropriate answers to the questions.

1.       Why does the narrator decide to kill the old mall?  The narrator detests the old man’s eye.

2.     How long does it take the narrator to accomplish his plan?  It takes the narrator 8 nights.

3.    Why do the police arrive even though the narrator planned the murder?  The neighbors thought they heard a scream.

4.    How does the narrator reveal his cunning throughout the course of the crime?  He plans all duties extremely carefully.

5.    How does he reveal the powers of his concentration?  The narrator was able to stay in one position for a very long time.

6.   When the police arrive why does the narrator place a chair over the spot where the old lies buried?  The narrator is so sure of himself that he will not get caught and the police would never know.

7.     Do you think anyone but narrator hears the beating of the old’s man heart?  Explain your answer.

8.    Why does he hear the old man’s heart beating so loudly?  His conscientious is driving him mad.

9.    What finally drives the narrator to confess?  The narrator’s guilt and conscientious get to him and tension rises.

10.          At the beginning of the story, the narrator says that he is not mad.  Explain why you agree or disagree.

11.   To whom may he be recounting his tale?  He may be recounting his tale to his friends, police, or psychologist.

12. Why do people like to read tales of terror?  Many people like to read tales because they are suspenseful.

13.Does the story remind you of any horror stories you have read or seen lately?  Friday the 13th, Scream, etc.

 

Assessment activity to be prepared by teacher:

In a shoebox, collect a set of artifacts that relate to The Tell Tale Heart.   These items can be small items, pictures, symbols, diagrams, etc.  For instance, in a box, place a set of handcuffs, toy size police car, small wooden board similar to a plank, fake eye ball, clock, calendar with 8 days high lighted, etc.   Take items out of box one at a time and have students explain the meaning of each artifact and how it relates to the story The Tell Tale Heart.  Students should respond with a minimum of a three-sentence explanation for each artifact. 

Student activities related to lesson two:

Directions:  Read the following questions about The Tell Tale Heart and respond with appropriate answers to the questions.

1.      Why does the narrator decide to kill the old mall? 

2.    How long does it take the narrator to accomplish his plan?

3.   Why do the police arrive even though the narrator planned the murder?

4.   How does the narrator reveal his cunning throughout the course of the crime? 

5.   How does he reveal the powers of his concentration? 

6. When the police arrive why does the narrator place a chair over the spot where the old lies buried? 

7.    Do you think anyone but narrator hears the beating of the old’s man heart?  Explain your answer.

8.   Why does he hear the old man’s heart beating so loudly? 

9.  What finally drives the narrator to confess? 

10.At the beginning of the story, the narrator says that he is not mad.  Explain why you agree or disagree.

 11.To whom may he be recounting his tale?  He may be recounting his tale to his friends, police, or psychologist.

12.Why do people like to read tales of terror?  Many people like to         read tales because they are suspenseful.

13.Does the story remind you of any horror stories you have read       or seen lately?

 

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado:  Lesson Three

Time frame for lesson three: 

 3-50 minute class periods

Objectives for lesson three:

Students will be given a brief overview of The Cask of Amontillado written by Poe and discuss information they may already know about the story as a class.

Students will be given a copy of The Cask of Amontillado to follow as they listen to a Real Audio reading of the story via the Internet at http://www.in2tv.com/worldstage/rob-towner/

Students will answer questions related to The Cask of Amontillado in small groups.

Students will discuss the answers to the questions as a class.

Students will view The Cask of Amontillado videotape.

Students will answer questions to an authentic based assessment provided by the teacher.

 

Materials needed for lesson three:

Hard copy of The Cask of Amontillado for each student in the class

Computer(s) downloaded with Real Audio capability and Internet capability (for technical support on how to downloaded Real Audio e-mail RealNetworks Technical Support.

Questions related to The Cask of Amontillado.

Video of The Cask of Amontillado available through Barr Films, Irwindale CA, 818-338-7878

Jeopardy test for student assessment.

 

Teacher references and resources for lesson three:

Text of The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled --but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong. It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my in to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my to smile now was at the thought of his immolation.

He had a weak point --this Fortunato --although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practise imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; --I was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could. It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand. I said to him --"My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day. But I have received a pipeof what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts."

"How?" said he. "Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!""I have my doubts," I replied; "and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain." "Amontillado!" "I have my doubts." "Amontillado!" "And I must satisfy them." "Amontillado!" "As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me --" "Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry." "And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own. "Come, let us go." "Whither?" "To your vaults." "My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement. Luchresi--" "I have no engagement; --come." "My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre." "Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. Amontillado! You have been imposed upon. And as for Luchresi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado." Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm; and putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo.

There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned. I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together upon the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors. The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode. "The pipe," he said. "It is farther on," said I; "but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls." He turned towards me, and looked into my eves with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication.

"Nitre?" he asked, at length. "Nitre," I replied. "How long have you had that cough?" "Ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh!" My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes. "It is nothing," he said, at last. "Come," I said, with decision, "we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchresi --" "Enough," he said; "the cough's a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough." "True --true," I replied; "and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily --but you should use all proper caution. A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps. Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould.

"Drink," I said, presenting him the wine. He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and nodded to me familiarly, while his bells jingled. "I drink," he said, "to the buried that repose around us." "And I to your long life." He again took my arm, and we proceeded. "These vaults," he said, "are extensive." "The Montresors," I replied, "were a great and numerous family." "I forget your arms." "A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel." "And the motto?" "Nemo me impune lacessit." "Good!" he said. The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. My own fancy grew warm with the Medoc. We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize Fortunato by an arm above the elbow.

"The nitre!" I said; "see, it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river's bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough --" "It is nothing," he said; "let us go on. But first, another draught of the Medoc." I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grave. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand. I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement --a grotesque one. "You do not comprehend?" he said. "Not I," I replied. "Then you are not of the brotherhood." "How?" "You are not of the masons." "Yes, yes," I said; "yes, yes." "You? Impossible! A mason?" "A mason," I replied. "A sign," he said, "a sign." "It is this," I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel. "You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. "But let us proceed to the Amontillado.""Be it so," I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. We continued our route in search of the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the fourth side the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still interior crypt or recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use within itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid granite.

It was in vain that Fortunato, uplifting his dull torch, endeavoured to pry into the depth of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see. "Proceed," I said; "herein is the Amontillado. As for Luchresi --" "He is an ignoramus," interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In niche, and finding an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess. "Pass your hand," I said, "over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre. Indeed, it is very damp. Once more let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my power." "The Amontillado!" ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his astonishment. "True," I replied; "the Amontillado."

As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche. I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man. There was then a long and obstinate silence. I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours and sat down upon the bones. When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the figure within. A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated, I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess; but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. I reapproached the wall; I replied to the yells of him who clamoured. I re-echoed, I aided, I surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still.

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. I had completed the eighth, the ninth and the tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and the eleventh; there remained but a single stone to be fitted and plastered in. I struggled with its weight; I placed it partially in its destined position. But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that of the noble Fortunato.

The voice said-- "Ha! ha! ha! --he! he! he! --a very good joke, indeed --an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo --he! he! he! --over our wine --he! he! he!" "The Amontillado!" I said. "He! he! he! --he! he! he! --yes, the Amontillado. But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let us be gone." "Yes," I said, "let us be gone." "For the love of God, Montresor!" "Yes," I said, "for the love of God!" But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud -- "Fortunato!" No answer. I called again -- "Fortunato!" No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!

 

Decoding of Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado for use with student discussion and explanation of story by Martha Womack.

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge....At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely settled....I must not only punish, but punish with impunity." Now Montresor began to develop the perfect plan of retribution.

During this time, Montresor was careful not to arouse Fortunato's suspicions. "...[N]either by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued...to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his [destruction]."

Fortunato had a weakness which Montresor felt could be advantageous to implementing his plan. Fortunato prided himself upon being a connoisseur of fine wines. In this respect, they were equals. Montresor was "...skillful in Italian vintages...and bought largely whenever [he] could."

Around dusk one evening during the carnival season, Montresor encountered his friend Fortunato, who "...accosted [him] with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much." Fortunato wore the costume of a court jester including a "...conical cap and bells." Montresor proclaimed how glad he was to encounter Fortunato since he had just purchased a large cask of "...what passes for Amontillado [a variety of dry sherry]," but he had his doubts about its authenticity. Fortunato also had doubts. "How?" said Fortunato. "Amontillado?...Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!"

"I have my doubts," said Montresor; "and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain....As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If anyone [can tell genuine Amontillado], it is he."

Fortunato was outraged. Luchesi was not a connoisseur of Amontillado. Fortunato said, "Come, let us go....To your vaults...[to taste the Amontillado]."

Montresor responded by telling his friend that he could see that he had a prior engagement as well as he noticed that Fortunato was afflicted with a severe cough and cold. The dampness of the vault and the niter (white or gray salt deposit) with which the walls were encrusted, would not be good for Fortunato's health. Fortunato responded by saying, "Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. Amontillado! You have been imposed upon. As for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish [sweet] sherry from Amontillado."

Fortunato had taken the bait, and the plan was put into action. When they reached Montresor's palazzo (luxurious house), they found no one at home. The servants had departed according to plan. Montresor handed Fortunato a flambeaux (lighted torch) as he took one for himself, and they made their way to the catacombs of the Montresors wherein lay the wine vaults. Fortunato's gait was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he walked.

Fortunato began to cough from the niter, and Montresor said that they must go back. "...[W]e will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi--"

Fortunato said, "Enough...the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough." "True--true," said Montresor. "A draft of this Medoc [a French red wine] will defend us from the damps." Montresor knocked off the neck of the bottle of wine, and passed it to Fortunato. Fortunato raised the bottle to his lips as his bells jingled, and said, "I drink...to the buried that repose around us." Montresor said, "And I [drink] to your long life."

They now proceeded through the vaults. Fortunato had forgotten how great and numerous a family Montresor had. He asked about the Montresors' coat of arms. Montresor said that on the shield was "...[a] hugh human foot d'or, in a field of azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are embedded in the heel." The motto stated: "Nemo me impune lacessit [No one assails me with impunity]."

Montresor and Fortunato had now reached the "...inmost recesses of the catacombs." The niter was hanging "...like moss upon the vaults." They were "...below the river's bed. The drops of moisture trickle[d] among the bones." Montresor said, "Come we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough--" But Fortunato replied, "It is nothing...let us go on. But first, another draft of the Medoc."

Montresor opened another bottle of wine (De Grave) in the same manner as before, and handed it to Fortunato. "He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards [while making a gesture that Montresor] did not understand." Fortunato repeated the movement, and when he saw that Montresor still did not understand, he said, " Then you are not of the brotherhood....You are not of the masons [the Freemasons, a secret fraternal order; also, bricklayers]." However, Montresor insisted that he was. Fortunato asked for a sign of some sort to prove that Montresor really was a mason. Montresor reached beneath the folds of his cloak and produced a trowel (the tool that would later seal Fortunato's fate). "You jest," Fortunato exclaimed. "But let us proceed to the Amontillado."

"At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains....Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner." However, the bones had been removed from the fourth wall, and scattered outside the crypt. By removing the bones, an interior recess "...in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven...." had been created. Montresor told Fortunato to proceed within, since "herein [was] the Amontillado."

Fortunato, who was extremely intoxicated at this point, did as he was instructed to do, only to realize that he had reached the extremity of the niche. In a moment, Montresor had chained him to the granite. "In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about [Fortunato's] waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it." Fortunato was taken by surprise, and was much too intoxicated to resist. Fortunato called out, "The Amontillado!" "True," [Montresor] replied; "the Amontillado."

As Montresor spoke these words, he continued with the last part of his plan of revenge. From beneath the scattered bones, he uncovered "...a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of [his] trowel. [Montresor] began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche." Fortunato's intoxication was beginning to wear off, and "...a low moaning cry [came] from the depth of the recess." Montresor continued his work even though he could hear Fortunato struggling with the chains. When the wall had reached chest level, Montresor using his torch, peeked inside the niche. "A succession of loud and shrill screams, [suddenly burst forth] from the throat of the chained [Fortunato]." This initially shocked Montresor; but realizing that Fortunato could not be heard, he began to reecho, and finally surpassed the shrieks of Fortunato with those of his own until Fortunato was silent once more.

It was midnight,and the task was almost complete. Just as Montresor was inserting the last stone, a low laugh could be heard from the interior of the niche. It was followed by a somewhat sad voice, which said, "Ha! ha! ha!--he! he!--a very good joke indeed--an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo--he! he! he!--over our wine--he! he! he!" Montresor echoed Fortunato's laughter. Fortunato reminded Montresor that it was getting late, and that they would be missed. "Let us be gone," Fortunato said. "Yes, " [Montresor] said, "let us be gone." Fortunato cried out, "For the love of God, Montresor!" And he replied, "for the love of God!" Then all was quiet. Montresor called out Fortunato's name, but there was no reply. Again using the torch, Montresor tried to see inside of the niche. "There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells." Montresor grew sick at heart due to the dampness of the catacombs. He hurried to finish his task. The last stone was put and plastered into place. Against the new masonry, Montresor stacked the old bones. "For half of [a] century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!" (May he rest in peace!)

Setting

The story begins around dusk, one evening during the carnival season (similar to the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans) in an unnamed European city. The location quickly changes from the lighthearted activities associated with such a festival to the damp, dark catacombs under Montressor's palazzo which helps to establish the sinister atmosphere of the story.

Characters

Although several characters are mentioned in this story, the true focus lies upon Montresor, the diabolical narrator of this tale of horror, who pledges revenge upon Fortunato for an insult. When the two meet during the carnival season, there is a warm greeting with excessive shaking of hands which Montresor attributes to the fact that Fortunato had been drinking. Montresor also appears to be "happy" to see Fortunato since he is planning to murder him. Fortunato's clown or jester's costume appears to be appropriate not only for the carnival season but also for the fact that Montresor intends to make a "fool" out of him.

Point of View

Poe writes this story from the perspective of Montresor who vows revenge against Fortunato in an effort to support his time-honored family motto: "Nemo me impune lacessit" or "No one assails me with impunity." (No one can attack me without being punished .) Poe does not intend for the reader to sympathize with Montresor because he has been wronged by Fortunato, but rather to judge him. Telling the story from Montresor's point of view, intensifies the effect of moral shock and horror. Once again, the reader is invited (as was the case in "The Tell-Tale Heart") to delve into the inner workings of a sinister mind.

Style and Interpretation

Poe's story is a case of premeditated murder. The reader becomes quickly aware of the fact that Montresor is not a reliable narrator, and that he has a tendency to hold grudges and exaggerate terribly, as he refers to the "thousand injuries" that he has suffered at the hands of Fortunato. "...[B]ut when [Fortunato] ventured upon insult, [Montresor could stand no more, and] vowed revenge."

Montresor tries to convince the reader that his intentions are honorable in an effort to uphold his family motto. "Nemo me impune lacessit" is also the national motto of Scotland. Kenneth Silverman, in his book Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance, makes reference to the fact that it is not an accident or similarity that Poe chooses this particular motto. It is one that would remind Poe of another Scotsman, John Allan, his foster father. Allan, "much resembled Fortunato in being a man 'rich, respected, admired, beloved,' interested in wines, and a member of the Masons." Silverman continues by saying, that even the Allan name can be seen as an anagram in Amontillado. (Silverman 317)

Stuart and Susan Levine, editors of The Short Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe: An Annotated Edition, do not view Poe's story as just a clever tale of revenge, but instead, see it as an anti-aristocratic commentary. "Resentment against aristocratic 'priviledge' of all kinds reached a peak in Jacksonian and post-Jacksonian America....Poe's tale is related to innumerable articles in American magazines of the period about the scandalous goings-on of continental nobility." (Levine 454, 455)

"The Cask of Amontillado" is a carefully crafted story so that every detail contributes to "a certain unique or single effect." Irony, both dramatic and verbal, plays an important role in this process. Dramatic irony (the reader perceives something that a character in the story does not) occurs when the reader becomes painfully aware of what will become of Fortunato even though the character continues his descent into the catacombs in pursuit of the Amontillado. Poe further adds to this effect by calling the character Fortunato (who is anything but fortunate), and dressing him in a clown or a fool's costume since Montresor intends to make a fool of him as part of his dark plan.

There are numerous examples of verbal irony (character says one thing and means something else) within Montresor's words. Montresor expresses concern about Fortunato's health, and several times he suggests that they should turn back for fear that Fortunato's cough will worsen as a result of the cold and dampness of the catacombs. One of the most memorable lines of the story is given by Montresor in response to Fortunato saying, "I will not die of a cough." Montresor says, "True--true...." Other examples can be seen when Montresor toasts Fortunato's long life as well as when he says that he is a mason, but not in the sense that Fortunato means. "In pace requiescat!" ("Rest in peace!") is the last irony of a heavily ironic tale. "In pace" also refers to a very secure monastic prison.

By the end of Poe's story, Montresor has gotten his revenge against unsuspecting Fortunato, whose taste for wine has led him to his own death. Once again we are reminded of the coat of arms and the Montresor family motto. The insignia is symbolic of Montresor's evil character, who like the serpent intends to get revenge.

Theme

"The Cask of Amontillado" is a powerful tale of revenge. Montresor, the sinister narrator of this tale, pledges revenge upon Fortunato for an insult. Montresor intends to seek vengeance in support of his family motto: "Nemo me impune lacessit."("No one assails me with impunity.") On the coat of arms, which bears this motto, appears " [a] huge human foot d'or, in a field of azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are embedded in the heel." It is important for Montresor to have his victim know what is happening to him. Montresor will derive pleasure from the fact that "...as Fortunato slowly dies, the thought of his rejected opportunities of escape will sting him with unbearable regret, and as he sobers with terror, the final blow will come from the realization that his craving for the wine has led him to his doom." (Quinn 500) In structure, there can be no doubt, that both Montresor's plan of revenge and Poe's story are carefully crafted to create the desired effect.

Martha Womack


Related Information

·  Poe Perplex on Cask of Amontillado

·  Moving Madness from Paper to Screen: The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

·  Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

·  Interwines guide of Spain

·  Amontillado Sherry

·  Review of "the Dark Eye"

·  And He is Trapped Behind the Wall Forever


Teacher Key for lesson three

Directions:  After reading the story, respond to the following questions.  Don’t be concerned with the difficult vocabulary words-focus on the content.

 

Background information:  This is a tale about revenge.  The story is set in Italy during a festival season.

 

1.     Who are the main characters in the story?  Fortunato and Montessori

 

2.     What is the tone of the story? The story is a tale of revenge.  It is dark and ominous.

 

3.     Write some descriptions that prove the tone of the story.  The description of the crypt and the first sentence of the story, “I avowed revenge” help to prove the tone of the story.

 

4.     What was Fortunato known for?  Fortunato is known for being knowledgeable about wine.

 

5.     How did the narrator lure Fortunato to his house?  The narrator lured Fortunato into the house by telling him had a bottle of Amontillado he wanted him to taste to verify if it was the real thing.

 

6.     How had the narrator prepared for the arrival of Fortunato?  The narrator told all of the servants not to return until the following day.  The narrator also had the brick prepared to bury Fortunato.

 

7.     What was the condition of Fortunato’s health?  Fortunato had a bad cough.

 

8.     What happened once the narrator and Fortunato arrived to the deepest part of the crypt?  The narrator buried Fortunato between walls.

 

9.     Summarize the story.

Narrator wants revenge  Talks to Fortunato to cellar by telling him he wants him to try some expensive wine he has to check to see if it is the real thing.  In reality, the narrator is getting revenge on Fortunato and buries him alive in the crypt.

 

10. List as many similarities of this story compared with recent horror stories, such as, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, or Scream.

 

Assessment activity to be given by teacher.

 

Students will be assessed about their knowledge of the story through a test similar to the game Jeopardy.  Students will be given a list of answer related to The Cask of Amontillado.  Students must then come up with reasonable and comprehensive questions for each of the answers given by the teacher.  This test can be  conducted orally or by pen and paper.

 

Answers are provided below.  Students must determine a question for each answer.

 

The answer is Fortunato and the narrator.  The question is who are the main characters?

The answer is a tale of revenge.  The question is what is Cask of Amontillado about?

The answer is he is knowledgeable about wine.  The question is who is fortunate?

The answer is servants were gone for the day.  The question is how had the narrator prepared for the arrival of Fortunato?

The answer is he had a bad cough.  The question is who is Fortunato?

The answer is he was buried alive in the crypt.  The question is what happened to Fortunato?

The answer is Edgar Allan Poe.  The question is who is the author of The Cask of Amontillado?

 

Student activities related to lesson three:


Directions:  After reading the story, respond to the following questions. 

Background information:  This is a tale about revenge.  The story is set in Italy during a festival season.

 

2.     Who are the main characters in the story?

 

3.     What is the tone of the story?

 

4.     Write some descriptions that prove the tone of the story.

 

5.     What was Fortunato known for?

 

6.     How did the narrator lure Fortunato to his house?

 

7.     How had the narrator prepared for the arrival of Fortunato?

 

8.     What was the condition of Fortunato’s health?

 

9.     What happened once the narrator and Fortunato arrived to the deepest part of the crypt?

 

11. Summarize the story.

 

10.  List as many similarities of this story compared with recent horror stories, such as, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, or Scream.

 

Assessment activity for lesson three:

 

Answers are provided below.   Determine a question for each answer.

 

The answer is Fortunato and the narrator. 

The answer is a tale of revenge. 

The answer is he is knowledgeable about wine. 

The answer is servants were gone for the day. 

The answer is he had a bad cough. 

The answer is he was buried alive in the crypt. 

The answer is Edgar Allan Poe.

 

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven:  lesson four

 

Time frame for lesson four:

2-50 minute class periods

 

Objectives for lesson four:

Students will be given a brief overview of The Raven written by Poe and discuss information they may already know about the story as a class.

 

Students will be given a copy of The Raven to follow as they listen to a reading of the poem via the Internet at http://www.in2tv.com/worldstage/rob-towner/

 

Students will answer questions related to The Raven in small groups.

 

Students will discuss the answers to the questions as a class.

 

Students will view the videotape of The Raven featuring Vincent Price available through Amazon.com


Students will be given an authentic based test that contains six questions- one for each level of Bloom’s taxonomy which relate to
The Raven (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.)

 

Materials for lesson four:

Hard Copy of The Raven for each student in the class

 

Computer(s) downloaded with Real Audio capability and Internet capability (for technical support on how to downloaded Real Audio e-mail RealNetworks Technical Support

 

Questions related to The Raven

 

Authentic assessment based on Bloom’s taxonomy.

 

Teacher references and resources for lesson four:

 

Text of The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more."
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering,
fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and
flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed
he;But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no
craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown
before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never- nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and
door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he
hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!- prophet still, if bird or
devil!-
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or
devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked,
upstarting-
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my
door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the
floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Decoding of Poe’s The Raven for use with student discussion and explanation of story by Christoffer Nilsson.

Summary

A lonely man tries to ease his "sorrow for the lost Lenore," by distracting his mind with old books of "forgotten lore." He is interrupted while he is "nearly napping," by a "tapping on [his] chamber door." As he opens up the door, he finds "darkness there and nothing more." Into the darkness he whispers, "Lenore," hoping his lost love had come back, but all that could be heard was "an echo [that] murmured back the word 'Lenore!'"

With a burning soul, the man returns to his chamber, and this time he can hear a tapping at the window lattice. As he "flung [open] the shutter," "in [there] stepped a stately Raven," the bird of ill-omen (Poe, 1850). The raven perched on the bust of Pallas, the goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology, above his chamber door.

The man asks the Raven for his name, and surprisingly it answers, and croaks "Nevermore." The man knows that the bird does not speak from wisdom, but has been taught by "some unhappy master," and that the word "nevermore" is its only "stock and store."

The man welcomes the raven, and is afraid that the raven will be gone in the morning, "as [his] Hopes have flown before"; however, the raven answers, "Nevermore." The man smiled, and pulled up a chair, interested in what the raven "meant in croaking, ‘Nevermore.’" The chair, where Lenore once sat, brought back painful memories. The man, who knows the irrational nature in the raven’s speech, still cannot help but ask the raven questions. Since the narrator is aware that the raven only knows one word, he can anticipate the bird's responses. "Is there balm in Gilead?" - "Nevermore." Can Lenore be found in paradise? - "Nevermore." "Take thy form from off my door!" - "Nevermore." Finally the man concedes, realizing that to continue this dialogue would be pointless. And his "soul from out that shadow" that the raven throws on the floor, "Shall be lifted -- Nevermore!"

Symbols

In this poem, one of the most famous American poems ever, Poe uses several symbols to take the poem to a higher level. The most obvious symbol is, of course, the raven itself. When Poe had decided to use a refrain that repeated the word "nevermore," he found that it would be most effective if he used a non-reasoning creature to utter the word. It would make little sense to use a human, since the human could reason to answer the questions (Poe, 1850). In "The Raven" it is important that the answers to the questions are already known, to illustrate the self-torture to which the narrator exposes himself. This way of interpreting signs that do not bear a real meaning, is "one of the most profound impulses of human nature" (Quinn, 1998:441).

Poe also considered a parrot as the bird instead of the raven; however, because of the melancholy tone, and the symbolism of ravens as birds of ill-omen, he found the raven more suitable for the mood in the poem (Poe, 1850). Quoth the Parrot, "Nevermore?"

Another obvious symbol is the bust of Pallas. Why did the raven decide to perch on the goddess of wisdom? One reason could be, because it would lead the narrator to believe that the raven spoke from wisdom, and was not just repeating its only "stock and store," and to signify the scholarship of the narrator. Another reason for using "Pallas" in the poem was, according to Poe himself, simply because of the "sonorousness of the word, Pallas, itself" (Poe, 1850).

A less obvious symbol, might be the use of "midnight" in the first verse, and "December" in the second verse. Both midnight and December, symbolize an end of something, and also the anticipation of something new, a change, to happen. The midnight in December, might very well be New Year’s eve, a date most of us connect with change. This also seems to be what Viktor Rydberg believes when he is translating "The Raven" to Swedish, since he uses the phrase "årets sista natt var inne, " ("The last night of the year had arrived"). Kenneth Silverman connected the use of December with the death of Edgar’s mother (Silverman, 1992:241), who died in that month; whether this is true or not is, however, not significant to its meaning in the poem.

The chamber in which the narrator is positioned, is used to signify the loneliness of the man, and the sorrow he feels for the loss of Lenore. The room is richly furnished, and reminds the narrator of his lost love, which helps to create an effect of beauty in the poem. The tempest outside, is used to even more signify the isolation of this man, to show a sharp contrast between the calmness in the chamber and the tempestuous night.

The phrase "from out my heart," Poe claims, is used, in combination with the answer "Nevermore," to let the narrator realize that he should not try to seek a moral in what has been previously narrated (Poe, 1850).

Words

Poe had an extensive vocabulary, which is obvious to the readers of both his poetry as well as his fiction. Sometimes this meant introducing words that were not commonly used. In "The Raven," the use of ancient and poetic language seems appropriate, since the poem is about a man spending most of his time with books of "forgotten lore."

·  "Seraphim," in the fourteenth verse, "perfumed by an unseen censer / Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled..." is used to illustrate the swift, invisible way a scent spreads in a room. A seraphim is one of the six-winged angels standing in the presence of God.

  "Nephente," from the same verse, is a potion, used by ancients to induce forgetfullnes of pain or sorrow.

  "Balm in Gilead," from the following verse, is a soothing ointment made in Gilead, a mountainous region of Palestine east of the Jordan river.

  "Aidenn," from the sixteenth verse, is an Arabic word for Eden or paradise.

  "Plutonian," characteristic of Pluto, the god of the underworld in Roman mythology.

The Philosphy of Composition

Edgar Allan Poe wrote an essay on the creation of "The Raven," entitled "The Philosophy of Composition." In that essay Poe describes the work of composing the poem as if it were a mathematical problem, and derides the poets that claim that they compose "by a species of fine frenzy - an ecstatic intuition - and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes." Whether Poe was as calculating as he claims when he wrote "The Raven" or not is a question that cannot be answered; it is, however, unlikely that he created it exactly like he described in his essay. The thoughts occurring in the essay might well have occurred to Poe while he was composing it.

In "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe stresses the need to express a single effect when the literary work is to be read in one sitting. A poem should always be written short enough to be read in one sitting, and should, therefore, strive to achieve this single, unique effect. Consequently, Poe figured that the length of a poem should stay around one hundred lines, and "The Raven" is 108 lines.

The most important thing to consider in "Philosophy" is the fact that "The Raven," as well as many of Poe's tales, is written backwards. The effect is determined first, and the whole plot is set; then the web grows backwards from that single effect. Poe's "tales of ratiocination," e.g. the Dupin tales, are written in the same manner. "Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its denouement before anything be attempted with the pen" (Poe, 1850).

It was important to Poe to make "The Raven" "universally appreciable." It should be appreciated by the public, as well as the critics. Poe chose Beauty to be the theme of the poem, since "Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem" (Poe, 1850). After choosing Beauty as the province, Poe considered sadness to be the highest manifestation of beauty. "Beauty of whatever kind in its supreme development invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones" (Poe, 1850).

Of all melancholy topics, Poe wanted to use the one that was universally understood, and therefore, he chose Death as his topic. Poe (along with other writers) believed that the death of a beautiful woman was the most poetical use of death, because it closely allies itself with Beauty.

After establishing subjects and tones of the poem, Poe started by writing the stanza that brought the narrator's "interrogation" of the raven to a climax, the third verse from the end, and he made sure that no preceeding stanza would "surpass this in rhythmical effect." Poe then worked backwards from this stanza and used the word "Nevermore" in many different ways, so that even with the repetition of this word, it would not prove to be monotonous.

Poe builds the tension in this poem up, stanza by stanza, but after the climaxing stanza he tears the whole thing down, and lets the narrator know that there is no meaning in searching for a moral in the raven's "nevermore". The Raven is established as a symbol for the narrator's "Mournful and never-ending remembrance." "And my soul from out that shadow, that lies floating on the floor, shall be lifted - nevermore!"


Related Information

·  Poe Perplex on the Raven

·  Background material on ravens

·  Pallas Athena


Teacher key for lesson four:

Directions:  After reading the poem, listen to record of the poem.  Please have consideration for others around you.  Keep the volume as low as possible making sure that everyone in the group can hear it.  As you are listening, pay close attention to the repetition of sounds. After reading and listening to the poem , respond to the following questions.

 

1.     What is the mood of the poem? The mood of the poem is eerie, creepy, and suspenseful.

 

2.     How is use of repetition important in this poem?  The use of repetition repeats words and phrases that are important to the meaning of the poem.

 

3.     Who is the woman that this poem is about?  Lenore is whom the poem is about. 

 

4.  Alliteration is the repetition of constant sounds.  I.E. Captain Crunch, Peter  

Piper, Sylvester Stalone, Buzzing Bees, Daffy Duck, etc.  Identify and         record all sections of alliteration in the poem.

Velvet violet          whispering word

Lamp light            foot-falls

Nearly napping      weak and weary

Ghastly grinned    tempest tossed

Lost Lenore          dreaming dreams

 

5.     How does this poem possibly relate to Poe’s life?  Poe’s wife died shortly after they were married.  After her death, he became crazy, filled with grief, and ill. 

 

Assessment activity to be given by teacher.

 

Students will answer six questions related to Bloom’s taxonomy which focus on the following levels:  knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Students will be given this assessment as a take home test.  A total of 10 points will be given for the knowledge and comprehension level tasks.  15 points will be given fro the application and analysis level tasks.  Finally, 25 points will be given for the synthesis and evaluation level tasks.

 

Knowledge:

Recall whom the poem The Raven is about.

 

Comprehension:

Summarize The Raven written by Poe.

 

Application:

Construct a cartoon strip outlining The Raven.

 

Analysis:

Form your opinion about The Raven.

 

Synthesis:

What are the major themes in The Raven.

 

Evaluation:

Critique Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven.

 

Student activities related to lesson four:

 

Directions:  After reading the poem, listen to record of the poem.  Please have consideration for others around you.  Keep the volume as low as possible making sure that everyone in the group can hear it.  As you are listening, pay close attention to the repetition of sounds. After reading and listening to the poem , respond to the following questions.

 

1. What is the mood of the poem?

 

2.How is use of repetition important in this poem?

 

3.Who is the woman that this poem is about?

 

4.  Alliteration is the repetition of constant sounds.  I.E. Captain Crunch, Peter  

Piper, Sylvester Stalone, Buzzing Bees, Daffy Duck, etc.  Identify and         record all sections of alliteration in the poem.

 

Assessment for lesson four:

 

 

5.How does this poem possibly relate to Poe’s life?

 

Assessment activities for lesson four:

Students will answer six questions related to Bloom’s taxonomy which focus on the following levels:  knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Students will be given this assessment as a take home test.  A total of 10 points will be given for the knowledge and comprehension level tasks.  15 points will be given fro the application and analysis level tasks.  Finally, 25 points will be given for the synthesis and evaluation level tasks.

 

Knowledge:

Recall whom the poem The Raven is about.

 

Comprehension:

Summarize The Raven written by Poe.

 

Application:

Construct a cartoon strip outlining The Raven.

 

Analysis:

Form your opinion about The Raven.

 

Synthesis:

What are the major themes in The Raven.

 

Evaluation:

Critique Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven.