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Activity Overview


“A Poison Tree” makes a number of allusions to the biblical story of Adam and Eve, told in Chapter 3 of the book of Genesis. Understanding the connections between elements of Blake’s poem and the biblical story will help students read the poem on a deeper level. To guide their comprehension, students can set up a storyboard identifying elements of “A Poison Tree” that allude to the Genesis story. Below each storyboard depiction, students should explain the allusion’s connection to the poem’s message.

For a variation of this assignment, have students use storyboards to identify and explain the poem’s metaphors instead of its allusions. Students can depict the intended meaning of the following words and phrases: “waterd it in fears”, “sunned it with smiles”, “apple”, “apple tree”, “garden”.


“A Poison Tree” Allusions

Apple Tree

The tree that "bore an apple bright" calls to mind the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Its fruit, which God forbids Adam and Eve from eating, is traditionally referred to as an apple.


Speaker

The speaker who lures his enemy into the garden and tempts him to eat the apple is like the serpent in Eden. This suggests that the speaker’s anger has filled him with evil and led him to resemble the devil.


Foe

The speaker's foe is like Adam and Eve. Although they are helped by the serpent, they are still guilty of disobedience. The speaker's foe is not innocent either. He sneaks into the garden and eats the apple without permission.


Apple

In the poem, as in Genesis, the fruit represents sin and death. In both cases, the sin is the cause of death.



Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Type of Activity: Literary Allusions

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/9] Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone)
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/9] Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare)


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a storyboard illustrating different allusions in "A Poison Tree".

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher.
  2. Identify different allusions made in the text.
  3. Describe the meaning of the allusion in the description.
  4. Illustrate each example with appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.


Rubric

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)



Tracking Allusions
As we read and discuss, identify and track the different allusions that appear in the work. For each allusion, create a scene that depicts the original meaning of the allusion, along with the quote and some background information. Then, create a scene that depicts the impact of that allusion on the deeper meaning of the work, along with a short analysis. Make sure the scenes you depict are historically and factually accurate, both to the allusion itself, and to the work of literature. Your scenes need to be neat, eye-catching, and reflect creativity and care. Please proofread your writing and organize your ideas thoughtfully.
Proficient
25 Points
Emerging
19 Points
Beginning
13 Points
Allusion
The allusion and its depiction are historically or factually accurate. The quote which contains the allusion is included, or context is given for the quote's place in a brief summary.
The allusion and its depiction may be slightly inaccurate historically or factually. The quote may be missing or no context is given.
The allusion and its depiction have serious errors in accuracy. The quote and/or context are missing, or there is no description at all.
How It Enhances Meaning
The allusion's connection to the work is accurate and thoughtful, with meaningful commentary provided to accompany the scene.
The allusion's connection to the work is slightly inaccurate, or only partially described. The commentary may be too limited.
The allusion's connection to the work has serious errors in accuracy. The commentary may also be missing or incomplete.
Artistic Depictions
The art chosen to depict the scenes are historically appropriate to both the allusion and to the work of literature. Time and care is taken to ensure that the scenes are neat, eye-catching, and creative.
The art chosen to depict the scenes should be historically appropriate, but there may be some liberties taken that distract from the assignment. Scene constructions are neat, and meet basic expectations.
The art chosen to depict the scenes are historically inappropriate. Scene constructions are messy and may create some confusion, or may be too limited.
English Conventions
Ideas are organized. There are few or no grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas are mostly organized. There are some grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas may be disorganized or misplaced. Lack of control over grammar, mechanics, and spelling reflect a lack of proofreading.




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