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Activity Overview


When studying allegorical texts, it is important that students understand the concept as a foundation for the reading. An allegory is like an extended metaphor, where elements of the story are symbolic of a deeper meaning. Since allegories are works that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning (usually moral or political), it is important that students engage not only with the surface details, but with this deeper level as well.

In “The Masque of the Red Death”, Poe uses the allegory of Prospero’s actions to make a strong point: no one escapes death. Prospero thought he could cheat death by inviting all the wealthy people in his kingdom to the safety of his castle. He was segregating the wealthy from the peasantry to avoid death from the plague. The reader soon realizes that any attempt to escape death is futile, even for a wealthy prince like Prospero.

As an extension lesson, ask students to create a storyboard that show multiple ways that Prospero tried to escape death!

Examples of Allegory: Red Death

Barricaded Castle An important principal of death which Poe addresses is Prospero's hubris in thinking that through his power he could escape death. However, there is an equality in the face of death; it attacks everyone, rich and poor alike. Prospero may think that a physical barricade may save him, but death can infiltrate any place.
The Masquerade Ball The masquerade ball this exhibits Prospero’s attempt to ‘mask’ or hide from death. Using his money to throw a ball literally represents his attempt to hide from death with a costume, and also his attempt to distract himself from the reality of death. Despite these efforts, the clock strikes always interrupt the party, reminding the guests of their mortality, and, in the end, Death, masquerading as one of his victims, appears at the ball in person.
The Confrontation When the mysterious guest refuses to unmask himself, Prospero confronts him and pursues the stranger through the seven chambers, dagger drawn. With these actions, Prospero is literally trying to kill Death. Instead, his pursuit carries him through the decorated chambers (representing the stages of life) and he corners Death in the final room. There he falls dead. Death cannot be defeated with a weapon, and Prospero’s efforts to kill him have only sped him to the inevitable fate he was seeking to overcome.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Type of Activity: Allegory



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 that shows examples of allegory in "The Masque of the Red Death".


  1. Identify instances of allegory in the text.
  2. Depict and describe the example of allegory from the text on the left side.
  3. Depict and describe the reference to the larger issue or event on the right side.


Rubric

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



Allegory
Allegories rely on extensive symbolic meaning to convey their messages. Create a storyboard that tracks the allegorical references in the text and links them to their real-world examples. For each allegory, create a scene that depicts the original example of how it appears in the text, along with a quote and some background information. Then, create a scene that depicts the real-world example of that allegory. In a short analysis, discuss the impact of the allegory on the deeper meaning of the work as a whole.
Proficient
20 Points
Emerging
17 Points
Beginning
13 Points
Try Again
10 Points
Allegory Identification and Completion
The allegories identified are correct, and all major/important allegories in the text have been addressed. There is a quote or summary provided with each allegory.
Most of the allegories identified are correct, and all major/important allegories in the text have been addressed. There is a quote or summary provided with each allegory.
Most of the allegories identified are incorrect, or some of the major/important allegories in the text are not addressed. Quotes or summaries may not be provided for all of the identified allegories.
Most of the allegories identified are incorrect, or the major/important allegories may be missing, or the allegories provided are too limited to score. Quotes or summaries may be missing or too limited to score.
Real-World Examples Identification and Completion
The real-world examples connected to each allegory are correct, showing a thoughtful correlation between the two.
Most of the real-world examples connected to each allegory are correct, and show a correlation between the two.
Most of the real-world examples connected to each allegory are incorrect.
Most of the real-world examples connected to the allegories are missing or too limited to score.
Analysis of Allegory and Real-World Example
Analysis of allegories and real-world examples explores a connection between the two that adds insight to the understanding of the text as a whole.
Analysis of allegories and real-world examples shows a connection between the two. There is a basic discussion of how the allegory adds to the understanding of the text as a whole.
Some analysis of allegories and the real-world examples is minimal, unclear, or incorrect. There is an attempt of discussion of how the allegory adds to the understanding of the text as a whole.
Most of the analysis of the allegories and the real-world examples is minimal, unclear, incorrect, or too limited to score. There is no attempt of discussion of how the allegory adds to the understanding of the text as a whole.
Artistic Depictions
The art chosen to depict the allegories and the real-world examples are historically appropriate to both the allegory, the work of literature, and the real-world example. It is evident that the student spent a lot of time, creativity, and effort into carefully crafting each artistic depiction.
The art chosen to depict the allegories and the real-world examples should be historically appropriate, but there may be some liberties taken that distract from the assignment. It is evident that the student stayed on task and put time and effort into crafting each artistic depiction.
Most of the art chosen to depict the scenes are historically appropriate, but there are serious deviations that cause confusion or inaccuracies. The student may not have paid much attention to detail in crafting each depiction, and there may be evidence of rushing or limited effort.
Most of the art chosen to depict the scenes are historically inappropriate, missing, or too limited to score. It is evident that the student did not put a lot of time, effort, and creativity into crafting each artistic depiction.
English Conventions
Ideas are organized. Displays control of grammar, usage, and mechanics. Shows careful proofreading.
Ideas are organized. Contains few errors in grammar, usage and mechanics. Shows some proofreading.
Ideas are organized. Contains errors in grammar, usage and mechanics which interfere with communication. Shows a lack of proofreading.
Contains too many errors in grammar, usage and mechanics; (and/or) errors seriously interfere with communication. Shows a lack of proofreading.




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The Masque of the Red Death





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