When reading “The General Prologue”, one may notice that the naive narrator focuses on particular traits, and overlooks others. Before starting, make sure students know: caricatures in literature are a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.
What is the purpose of caricatures in literature?
Start by having students make a list of each student in the class. Have them write down ONE thing that they know about each person, e.g. what town is the student from, what is their favorite is hobby. Have the students collaborate and create a list for each student. For example, everyone knows that Johnny is from Boston, he loves baseball, and his favorite food is lasagna. Some other students may add in that they know he’s a night owl, he loves the color blue, and his mother is from Italy. Johnny will take that list and circle the things that appear more than once. These are the things that will make up Johnny’s caricature.
Have the students take the common things from their caricature lists, and create a storyboard of themselves. In addition, have them write an 8-12 line poem of the caricature traits their classmates have come up with that are important to them (in Chaucerian or modern English, your choice!). They can make the storyboard between 4-6 cells, depending on how long their poems are, how many students are in the class, and how many common traits appear on their lists! Below is a sample of a four-cell caricature board.
Cell 1: Basketball
My name is Haley and I am so tall
Of course you know I play basketball
Cell 2: Cooking and Reading
When I get home, I love to cook!
And then I sit down to read a book!
Cell 3: French
My family hails from France, and all my friends know
“Bonjour!” means hello!
Cell 4: Dogs
I have two dogs, they brighten my day
My name is Haley, and this is my caricature- yay!
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual or PartnerCommon Core Standards
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