Edgar Allan Poe has delighted his readers for over 150 years. Start teaching short stories with these classics.
“The Cask of Amontillado” – Montressor lures Fortunato into the catacombs, chains him to a wall, and walls him in.
- Verbal irony abounds. Make a two-column chart. In the left column, write at least five verbally ironic quotes. In the right column, explain how it’s verbal irony. For mastery, make a third column and explain the author’s purpose in using verbal irony.
- The KnowingPoe website has a great point of view exercise with the “Cask of Amontillado.” There is also a short unanimated comic strip film that entertains.
“The Tell-Tale Heart”– A crazy narrator murders an old man, gets away with it, goes crazy, and confesses.
- Think symbolism. Focus on the old man’s eye, the beating of his heart, and the narrator’s increased perception. What do they represent? Make a chart examining symbols.
- A short black and white film can be found via You-Tube. It’s creepy.
“The Black Cat” – Similar to the Tell-Tale Heart,” The “Black Cat” involves a demonic cat, an alcoholic narrator, and a nagging wife.
- Think suspense. Analyze suspense with this lesson plan.
“The Pit and the Pendulum” – Sentenced to torture and death by the Inquisition, the narrator unfolds numerous horrors.
- Great imagery – rats on lips, blinding lights, swoosh of the pendulum. Analyze symbolism with a three-column chart similar to the one you made for “The Cask of Amontillado.”
“The Fall of the House of Usher” – The narrator visits his old friend, Usher, who is dying. So is his house. This complex tale should be reserved for upper level classes.
- Think symbolism. Use “The Tell-Tale Heart” assignment. A comparison between this story and the others would be appropriate. This and the “Tell-Tale Heart” mention an acute sense of hearing. This and “The Cask of Amontillado” involve people being buried alive. They all involve unreliable narrators.
- “A Descent into the Maelstrom” – Three fisherman try to avoid being sucked into a maelstrom.
- “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” – Poe invents the detective story with this classic thriller, which involves a detective who solves crimes by deduction.
“The Oval Portrait” – Classic Poe–the narrator puts all his time and energy into painting a portrait of his wife. As you might imagine, something strange happens.
- This is great for Valentine’s Day, if you’re looking for a tragic love story involving obsessive husbands.
This post is part of the series: Short Story Suggestions for High School
Good short stories will involve the class and meet educational objectives.
- High School Teaching Ideas: Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
- Popular Short Stories by Famous Women Authors
- Eight Great American Short Stories For Your High School Students
- Science Fiction Short Stories for High School
- Mark Twain Short Stories for High School