October 4 to 8

Dear Students,

I am away this week on a photography adventure in Arizona. What follows are the notes, readings, and assignments that you will complete so that we can discuss the early eighteenth century in American writing when I return. Enjoy the selections and be productive.

WEEK SEVEN: Days Four and Five

WEEK EIGHT: Days One, Two, Three

Unit Theme:

Imagination becomes the source of artistic vision and creativity

Essential Question:

Is there any connection between American Romanticism and an emerging cultural identity in the United States?

Essential Concepts to Discover:

Poe is an American Romantic; what does that mean?

How does Poe's writing seem remarkably different from his predecessors'?

Can we consider Poe to be the first American horror writer?

Lesson Outline:

"Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) is perhaps the best-known American Romantic whose poems and stories explore...the darker side of the Romantic imagination...Poe rejected the rational and the intellectual [of America's previous writers] in favor of the intuitive and the emotional, a dominant characteristic of the Romantic Movement...One of Poe’s distinctive concerns is that of separating head and heart, intellect and soul. Some critics think that Poe was only a marketer of Gothic horror borrowed from the German models popular during his time."

Take a look for yourself.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" Notes

1. The narrator says he is clever and sane (actually just the opposite?)

2. The old man's eye - being seen by the old man whom he says that he loves (father-like spying: narrator's consciousness?)

3. "Killing the king" - killing the authority figure (destroys eye, smothers, dismembers)

4. Beating heart - goes on beyond the body - narrator's heart

Read the "Tell-Tale Heart" and answer the following on loose-leaf paper.

1. Name 3 details, descriptions, or actions that the author uses to create an atmosphere of horror.
2. (after "how calmly I can tell you the whole story.") What is our first impression of the narrator?
3. To whom is he speaking?
4. What does he say about his senses?
5. (after "rid myself of the eye for ever.") What is it about the man that bothers the narrator? Why?
6. How does he describe the eye?
7. What plan does he concoct?
8. (after "I looked in upon him while he slept.") What does the narrator do each night? Why?
9. How does he describe his nightly spying?
10. Do we believe him? Is he an honest, trustworthy source or is he exaggerating?
11. What in the story supports your opinion?
12. When does the narrator sneak into the man’s room? For how many evenings?
13. How does the narrator act towards the old man during the day?
14. Why doesn’t he just kill the man during the day, when the eye is open?
15. (paragraph ending "hearkening to the death watches in the wall.") What happens on the eighth night?
16. How does the old man react?
17. How does the narrator react?
18. What does the narrator say he’s usually doing each night?
19. How does this fit in with what we already know about his mental state?
20. (after "the soldier into courage.") What does the narrator feel upon seeing the old man’s terror?
21. What does his momentary sympathy say about him?
22. How might we incorporate this feeling into our established impression of the narrator?
23. What does the narrator do to the old man?
24. What effect does the old man’s eye have upon the narrator this time?
25. (after "I had been too wary for that.") What happens here at the climax of the story?
26. How does the narrator kill the old man?
27. What do the steps that he takes to hide the crime say about him and about his mental state?
28. Do we believe that he is not insane?
29. Has your opinion of him changed?
30. (after "the corpse of the victim.") Why does the narrator no longer fear being caught?
31. How does he react when the police arrive? Do you think that his confidence will fade?
32. What happens to shake the narrator’s calm? Why does he confess?
33. Would the crime have been discovered eventually? When? Why or why not?
34. Does the narrator really hear a heartbeat? Whose?

"The Cask of Amontillado" Notes

1. The most famous burial in literary history

2. Amontillado? Amontillado? (the musical repetition of the short story)

3. Puns: repeated, echoed

4. Ritual killing without ever being discovered

5. Grizzly story set to the music of poetry - repetition and rhyme

6. Burying alive is a way to keeping "death" continual

Read "The Cask of Amontillado and answer the following on loose-leaf paper.

1. Who could the audience, the "you", for this story be?
2. What has Fortunato done to upset Montresor?
3. What is does Montresor also want when he gets revenge?
4. What did Montresor do to keep Fortunado unaware of his plot?
5. What weakness did Fortunado have that Montresor exploits?
6. How is the Carnival setting symbolic and appropriate for his revenge?
7. How does Montresor manipulate Fortunato into coming with him?
8. Whose idea is it to go down into the vaults and how is this ironic?
9. How could the descent into the wine cellar be symbolic?
10. What is the effect of Montresor acting concerned about Fortunado’s health?
11. How is their toast ironic?
12. How is the symbolism of the coat of arms appropriate?
13. What is the double meaning of the masons they discuss?
14. How does Montresor trap Fortunado in the room?
15. To what extent is the audience being asked to sympathize with Fortunato?
16. Montressor says ‘for the love of God" and "rest in peace," what does this indicate about the success of his revenge?

"The Black Cat" Notes

1. There is really nothing gratuitous here but a perhaps a look at the psychological will/the negotiations of the soul

2. The narrator says that this is a domestic tragedy - from beginning to end "a mere events of a household" - or a soul?

3. The narrator admits to having a tenderness of heart (intimacy and warmth) that is instantly mercurial (changeable) - love becomes terrifying to him

4. "It wasn't me! It was the drinking."

5. "Fury of a demon was upon me"- terrible violence that goes to perverseness

6. For the narrator, there is something within us more powerful than self-control - and the secrets always come out for Poe's narrators

7. Repetition - second cat (loathsome caresses) - replacements never work for Poe's narrators

8. No word of remorse for death of wife - the wife and cats can be killed but cannot disappear: a graphic imperative in Poe's themes

Read "The Black Cat" and answer the following questions on loose-leaf paper.

1. How is this story a flashback and where might the narrator be telling his story?
2. Why is the narrator telling the story?
3. How does the narrator describe his personality as a child and how was his wife similar to him?
4. Why did the narrator's wife believe that Pluto was a witch?
5. How did Pluto lose an eye and how does the narrator feel about it afterward?
6. How did Pluto react to the narrator afterwards and how did the narrator feel about this?
7. What is the "perverseness" that the narrator is talking about?
8. How did the narrator kill Pluto?
9. What happened to the one remaining wall of the house that burned down?
10. How did the narrator account for the image?
11. Why did the narrator look for a new cat and where did he find it?
12. How does the new cat compare to Pluto?
13. Why did the narrator begin to loathe the new cat and what was the cat's response?
14. How is it ironic that the white spot began to look like a noose?
15. What happened with the axe?
16. How did the narrator dispose of the body?
17. How did the narrator feel about the cat’s disappearance?
18. How did the narrator get caught?

Write a Five-paragraph Essay: I will want to see the working draft on October 12.

Assignment: Poe is accused of being shamelessly sensationalist and superficial; defend the case that he provides us with a meaningful representation of human feeling.


POSSIBLE THESIS = Edgar Allan Poe (topic) provides the reader with a meaningful representation of human feeling (assertion) in "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Black Cat" (three means of organization).

I. "The Tell-Tale Heart"

A. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)

B. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)

C. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)

II. "The Cask of Amontillado"

A. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)

B. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)

C. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)

III. "The Black Cat"

A. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)

B. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)

C. Commentary

1. 2....Evidence of support (Quotations, paraphrase of events or characterization)


[AN INTERESTING NOTE: Walt Whitman writes about Edgar Allan Poe: "In a dream I once had, I saw a vessel on the sea, at midnight, in a storm. It was no great full-rigg’d ship, nor majestic steamer, steering firmly through the gale, but seem’d one of those superb little schooner yachts I had often seen lying anchor’d, rocking so jauntily, in the waters around New York, or up Long Island sound—now flying uncontroll’d with torn sails and broken spars through the wild sleet and winds and waves of the night. On the deck was a slender, slight, beautiful figure, a dim man, apparently enjoying all the terror, the murk, and the dislocation of which he was the centre and the victim. That figure of my lurid dream might stand for Edgar Poe, his spirit, his fortunes, and his poems—themselves all lurid dreams."]