https://www.storyboardthat.com/teacher-guide/the-masque-of-the-red-death-by-edgar-allan-poe

"The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our High School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Masque of the Red Death Include:

“The Masque of the Red Death” is a dark and eerie tale about a prince who arrogantly thinks he can cheat death, using his wealth and power to shield himself and the nobles of his kingdom. At its heart is the universal theme that no one can escape death.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




Start My Free Trial

A Quick Synopsis of “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe

In the kingdom of Prince Prospero, a disease, the Red Death, viciously and gruesomely kills all who contract it. As it runs its course throughout his kingdom, Prospero decides to escape its grasp by inviting all the nobles to his castle and welding the doors shut, so they can all wait out the plague in his lavishly decorated castle.

One night, Prospero holds a masquerade ball. He decorates seven rooms, each with a different color: blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and black. All the rooms are magnificently ostentatious with stained glass windows of the coordinating color, except for the final black room which has red stained glass windows. This room is so disturbing that no one enters the room. Even more mysterious is a large ebony clock which chimes every hour, halting the exaltation of revelers with its foreboding strike.

As the party goes on and the clock is about to strike midnight, an enigmatic guest appears dressed as a plague victim. Deeply disturbed by a guest's poor judgment, Prospero engages with the visitor, finally pursuing him with a dagger through the seven colored rooms. As he reaches the figure in the final room, Prospero falls dead. The other guests subdue the intruder and forcibly remove his mask, finding, to their horror, there is no one beneath the costume. They also die. The Red Death infiltrated the castle, despite Prospero’s efforts to escape it.


Essential Questions for “The Masque of the Red Death”

  1. How can an author can build suspense?
  2. How do effective writers create mood in their short stories?
  3. How does Poe's use of setting, symbolism, personification, and simile impact the story overall?

The Masque of the Red Death Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

"The Masque of the Red Death" Plot Diagram


Copy Assignment



A common activity for students is to create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of a plot, but to reinforce major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard that captures the concept of the narrative arc in a story by creating a six-cell storyboard which contains 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 Masque of the Red Death” Plot Diagram

Exposition

Prospero is introduced in the time of the Red Death, a ravenous plague that is devastating his kingdom.


Major Inciting Conflict

Prospero believes that he and the nobles of his kingdom can escape death. Prospero invites all wealthy, unaffected people in his domain to barricade themselves in his castle, and throws a masquerade ball.


Rising Action

As guests arrive, they are bewildered and amused by the grandiose rooms that Prospero has created. Each room beginning from east to west is marked by a different color: blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and black with red windows. This last room is so disturbing that no one enters. Even more mysterious is a large ebony clock which chimes every hour, halting the exaltations of the party with its foreboding strike.


Climax

As the party goes on and the clock is about to strike midnight, an enigmatic guest appears, dressed as a plague victim.


Falling Action

Deeply disturbed by the guest's poor judgment, Prospero engages with the visitor, finally pursuing him with a dagger through the seven colored rooms. As he reaches the figure in the final room, he falls dead.


Resolution

The other guests subdue the intruder and forcibly remove his mask, finding, to their horror, there is no one beneath the costume. They also die. The Red Death infiltrated the castle, despite Prospero’s efforts to escape it.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of “The Masque of the Red Death”.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. 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.)





Copy Assignment

Start My Free Trial

"The Masque of the Red Death" Symbols, Themes, and Motifs

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes and symbols from the story, and support their choices with details from the text. With a storyboard, students can track the rich symbolism Poe uses throughout “The Masque of the Red Death”.

Symbols

The Clock

The clock is a representative of death’s inevitability. All the revelry stops at each hourly strike of the clock. This is a constant reminder that our lives and our time alive is constantly winding down. Each ghostly chime is death's own countdown. It is also a reminder that man cannot stop or slow down time, it continues and waits for no one. Its last chime ultimately represents death appearance and the end of life. Hence the clock strikes at midnight and the stranger appears, with midnight being the symbolizing the end of life.


The Stranger

The stranger dressed as a plague victim is Death himself. The personification of death lends to the theme that in death there is true equality; both the poor and rich alike will eventually succumb to death's grasp.


The Rooms in “The Masque of the Red Death”


The Rooms

The rooms represent the stages of life. The rooms begin at the east and progress west, as a metaphor for the path of the sun. This connects the cycle of the day with the cycle of a life: the morning is birth while night is the end of life and eventually, death. Each individual room and its color has a symbolic meaning which also relates to the life cycle.

The order of the life cycle also represents the path that Prospero takes to subdue his uninvited guest. As the Red Death walks through each room, so does Prospero. In the end, Prospero dies in the black room.

COLORMEANING
BlueBirth/Morning/Dawn
PurpleVitality/Childhood
GreenYouth/Spring/Growth
OrangeStrength/Summer/Autumn/Noon
WhiteAge/Wisdom/Growing Older/Winter
VioletDusk/Dimming of Life/Extinguish
Black Death
Red WindowsRed is associated with blood; the vitality of life, and the color of the Red Death

Start My Free Trial

Allegory in "The Masque of the Red Death"


Copy Assignment



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 a lesson, teachers can 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.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


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.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





Copy Assignment

Start My Free Trial

"The Masque of the Red Death" Vocabulary Graphic Organizer


Copy Assignment



Another great way to engage your students is through the creation of storyboards that uses vocabulary from “The Masque of the Red Death”. Here is a list of a few vocabulary words commonly taught with the short story and an example of a visual vocabulary board.

Vocabulary Words from “The Masque of the Red Death”

  • pestilence
  • buffoon
  • robust
  • dauntless
  • sagacious
  • dissolution
  • ingress
  • egress
  • august
  • contagion
  • vista
  • hue
  • shroud
  • brazen
  • pervade
  • disconcert
  • cessation

In the vocabulary board students can choose between coming up with their use of the vocabulary board, finding the specific example from the text, or depicting it without words.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in "The Masque of the Red Death" by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





Copy Assignment

Start My Free Trial

Don’t Let the Fun Stop There! Check Out Our Other Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Have students create a storyboard that shows the events of the story from different points of view; peasantry, nobles, or Prospero.
  2. Have students demonstrate how Poe builds suspense by creating a storyboard that focuses only on the rising action.
  3. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

Help Share Storyboard That!

Looking for More?

Check out the rest of our Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans!


All Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans Ed Tech BlogElementary SchoolMiddle School ELAHigh School ELAForeign LanguageSpecial EdUS History and Social StudiesWorld History

Our Posters on ZazzleOur Lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers
https://www.storyboardthat.com/teacher-guide/the-masque-of-the-red-death-by-edgar-allan-poe
© 2017 - Clever Prototypes, LLC - All rights reserved.
Want a Free Trial? Learn More about our Educational Edition     Start My Free Trial
Explore Our Articles and Examples

Try Our Other Websites!

Photos for Class – Search for School-Safe, Creative Commons Photos! (It Even Cites for You!)
Quick Rubric – Easily Make and Share Great Looking Rubrics!
Prefer a different language?

•   (English) The Masque of the Red Death   •   (Español) La Máscara de la Muerte Roja   •   (Français) Le Masque de la Mort Rouge   •   (Deutsch) Die Maske des Roten Todes   •   (Italiana) La Maschera Della Morte Rossa   •   (Nederlands) Het Masker van de Rode Dood   •   (Português) O Máscara da Morte Vermelha   •   (עברית) Masque המוות האדום   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) قناع الموت الأحمر   •   (हिन्दी) द मास्क ऑफ़ द रेड डेथ   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Маска Красной Смерти   •   (Dansk) Den Masque af Røde Døden   •   (Svenska) The Masque of the Red Death   •   (Suomi) Naamion Poistamisen Punaisen Kuoleman   •   (Norsk) Den Masque Røde Døden   •   (Türkçe) Kırmızı Ölüm Maskesi   •   (Polski) Maska Czerwonej Śmierci   •   (Româna) Masca Morții Roșii   •   (Ceština) Maska Červené Smrti   •   (Slovenský) Maska Červenej Smrti   •   (Magyar) A Maszk a Vörös Halál   •   (Hrvatski) Maska Crvene Smrti   •   (български) Маската на Червената Смърт   •   (Lietuvos) Raudonosios Mirties Kaukė   •   (Slovenščina) Maska Rdeče Smrti   •   (Latvijas) Masku Sarkanās Nāves   •   (eesti) Mask, Punase Death