Symbolism Lesson Plans: "Masque of the Red Death" Lesson Plans and Teaching Imagery

Symbolism Lesson Plans: "Masque of the Red Death" Lesson Plans and Teaching Imagery
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A Strange Visitor

I had just finished teaching suspense in “The Black Cat” and was feeling good about life. I was feeling bold. I dusted off my “Masque of the Red Death” lesson plans and was ready to teach imagery and symbolism. After five minutes of explaining what an allegory was, three students slammed their heads on the desk. We began the story. Two more students passed out, one soiled himself, and three started bleeding profusely from their eyes and nose. I had unleashed the Red Death of boredom.

I stopped immediately and took a nap. I woke up in a crooked hallway of multi-colored rooms. Over me stood Prince Prospero. “Your ‘Masque of the Red Death’ lesson plans,” he said, “aren’t very good.”

“I see that,” I replied."

“Go down to the blue room and grab these “Masque of the Red Death” lesson plans I stole from some peasants. Head to the violet room and grab my symbolism lesson plans I copied from a dead monk. Combine them.” I did as he commanded. When I returned, he was dead. Luckily, I found his “Masque of the Red Death” lesson plans and his symbolism lesson plans. I combine them and share them with you.


Unravel the Red Death with this Lesson Plan (If your administrator looks like this, quit!

Better have these objectives ready in case someone shows up.

  1. Students will analyze plot, character, setting, symbolism, mood, conflict, point of view (and any other literary element you could throw on the board to let everyone know just how smart you are).
  2. Students will interpret literature from different points of view.
  3. Students will transcend genres (This should get some ooohs and aaaahs from stray teachers and administrators walking near your room. You could even “accidentally” leave a copy of this lesson plan in the teacher’s lounge and eagerly wait for praise from your colleagues.).
  4. Students will demonstrate public speaking techniques to communicate clearly.


  1. Read the story.
  2. Divide students into groups of four or five (seven groups is ideal).
  3. Each group must do (all or some of) the following:
    1. Make a visual aide or graphic organizer (story maps work best) that lists the story’s major events, main characters, themes, symbols, setting, mood, conflict, resolution, and point of view.
    2. Write a one-page analysis and summary of the story. Each group must write it from one of the following points of view: (1) Prince Prospero; (2) One of the Prince’s guests; (3) One of the peasants locked out of the castle; (4) The Red Death.
    3. Find a specific example of imagery in the story and make a poster. For examples of imagery in “The Masque of the Red Death," follow the link.
    4. Create a reenactment of a specific scene in the play, based on the point of view assigned. Each group member must have a part.
    5. Create a symbols chart. The symbols chart should include the seven rooms, the seven colors and the ebony clock.
    6. Each group should present their doings to the class.

This post is part of the series: Edgar Allan Poe Lesson Plans

Feel like burying a hatchet in someone’s head? Has your class begun its descent into the Maelstrom? Does your class resemble the Rue Morgue? Then these lesson plans are for you.

  1. Teaching the Masque of the Red Death: A Teacher’s Guide
  2. “Masque of the Red Death” Lesson Plans: Point of View, Imagery and Symbolism
  3. Two In-Class Projects for Teaching “Masque of the Red Death” in High School
  4. A Teacher’s Guide and Lesson to The Tell-Tale Heart