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9-12: Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado

Hill & Brown / Learn NC

The short story “The Cask of Amontillado,” by Edgar Allan Poe is an effective venue for teaching English I literary terms. The following lesson plan is designed to engage the reader in a deeper than superficial reading of the text. It is also designed to elicit discussion and written critical-thinking responses. This lesson assumes that the literary terms have already been introduced. However, if they have not, the teacher may use this lesson to introduce these terms in the context of the literature.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

1. read and comprehend the short story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe. 2. identify and explain the use of literary terms and techniques in the work. 3. analyze the characters’ motivations and apply themes from the story to their own lives.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

5 days

Related Links


A copy of the story for each student. (In textbook or see relevant websites; 1st website has Poe biographical information- 2nd website has a more direct link to the story)

Colored pencils and blank paper.

Technology resources

Use of word processor program and Microsoft Publisher/PowerPoint.

Use of internet for clip art and/or research.

Access to computer lab.


1. Teacher gives mini-lecture informing students of biographical and historical information about Edgar Allan Poe. (see relevant websites)

2. Teacher gives the students a pre-reading assignment to build their background knowledge and to connect their personal experiences to those of the main character. Teacher asks them to write brief responses (2-3 sentences) to the attached suggested questions. See Attachment 2 .

3. Teacher facilitates whole class discussion of their answers to the pre-reading questions. (approx. 15-25 minutes)

4. Teacher writes the definitions of the following words on the board and instructs the students to copy them. (cask, amontillado, Carnival, catacombs, impunity, nitre, virtuoso)


1. Teacher and students read “The Cask of Amontillado” and teacher presents pictures of the other critical vocabulary words as they appear in the text. (see Modifications)

2. Teacher gives the students a post-reading written assignment requiring them to answer the following suggested questions.

3. Teacher facilitates a whole class discussion of their answers to these questions (approx. 15-20 minutes). After they have established that Montresor committed this crime 50 years ago, (after the last suggested question above) ask them why and to whom, in their opinion, Montresor is telling this story. Students discuss these answers with teacher input when necessary.

4. After reading the story, the teacher gives the students questions requiring a written response emphasizing analysis of literary terms found in the text. (setting, characterization, narrator, mood, protagonist, antagonist, symbol, irony, foreshadowing, flashback and tone) See Attachment 2.


1. Teacher should include the questions in activity #4 as an assessment of student comprehension of literary terms and techniques.

2. Teacher should include both pre- and post-reading questions as a method of assessing student participation.

3. Teacher should pair students after the work of literature has been read to create an illustrated book cover. The book cover should include a picture (either drawn or clip art) and a brief synopsis of the work in an attempt to pique the interest of a potential reader. Information about the author should also be included on the inside flap.

4. Teacher should pair students for an oral presentation of a brochure, advertising the Montresor mansion as a tourist attraction. The students will be responsible for illustrating the brochure and for writing the introduction to acquire the interest of potential tourists.

5. A rubric entitled “Making a Brochure Rubric” has been created for this lesson plan and is attached at the bottom of this page. Download and save it, open in a word processing program, and print. Use rubric criteria to evaluate the brochure.

6. Teacher can modify rubric criteria to evaluate the book cover and oral presentation. See Rubistar weblink under relevant websites.

Related websites


1. Teacher brings in or creates illustrations of key words or bring in realia (cask, amontillado, Carnival, catacombs, trowel, mortar, motley, palazzo, puncheon, immolation).The critical vocabulary words listed above are in chronological order according to their appearance in the text. Teachers should group words with similar definitions to increase understanding, for novice or intermediate level English language learners.

2. Towards the end of the reading of the story (when Montresor builds the first two tiers of the wall), teacher interrupts reading with a brief trip to the vocational building for a demonstration by a vocational teacher on the use of bricklaying materials, to enhance the students’ background knowledge about Montresor’s plans.

3. Teacher and students read the story aloud in class. Teachers are encouraged to use chunking or grouping reading strategies (pausing during the reading of the story, by paragraph or event) to divide the text and make it more manageable for students. Teachers should periodically check for comprehension by asking the students questions.

4. Students should be allowed extended time at home to finish any written assignments.

Alternative assessments

1. Modify rubric criteria accordingly to suit different levels of English Language Learners (ELL aka ESL students).

2. Give ELL students an option of not orally presenting their project.

3. ELL students should be paired with a native English speaker, who could be the spokesperson for the group.

Critical vocabulary

cask, amontillado, Carnival, revenge, unredressed, impunity, catacombs, preclude, motley, virtuoso, palazzo, puncheons, mason, flambeaux, nitre, trowel, recess, mortar, gesticulation, immolation, Literary terms (see Activities)

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