“The Pit and the Pendulum” Summary
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative ArcsCommon Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.
Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Example “The Pit and the Pendulum” Plot Diagram
The narrator is standing on trial and receiving a sentence of death. He does not reveal the crimes for which he has been charged and found guilty. He sees black-robed judges issuing their judgment before he passes out.
The narrator is in and out of consciousness, but presently finds himself in a chamber of some sort. It is at first pitch-black so he is disoriented and unable to get a grasp of his surroundings. He does not know where he is, nor why he is there, although he is sure is related to his punishment. He supposes that he is in a dungeon in Toledo, Spain.
The narrator tries to explore the depths of his chamber, and almost slips and falls into a chasm at one end of the chamber. After falling asleep, the narrator awakens to find bread and water next to him, so he knows someone is attending to him. After falling asleep again, the narrator awakens and the chamber is lightly glowing. He sees that it is square, and the metal walls have hideous faces in them.
The narrator finds himself strapped to a board, leaving only his head and left arm free. He looks up and sees a figure of Time painted on the ceiling, but instead of his scythe, he is holding a razor-sharp pendulum. The pendulum swings back and forth, and which each vibration, comes closer to the strapped narrator’s chest. He realizes that the pendulum will eventually kill him.
The narrator almost accepts his inevitable death when he gets an idea to take the fragrant meat from the basket next to him, and to rub it all over the strap holding him down. The rats, attracted by the smell of the meat, jump up and gnaw at the strap until the narrator is free. As soon as he is freed, however, the walls of the chamber begin to move and become hot, so that they push him towards the chasm.
As the narrator again is faced with impending death, he screams in despair. Just as the walls are about to push him over the edge, he hears thundering trumpets. The walls retract, and he is saved by General Lasalle, who is leading the French troops into Toledo.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)
Create a visual plot diagram of “The Pit and the Pendulum”.
- Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
- Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
- Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)