Eric A. Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell, is today best known for his last two novels, the anti-totalitarian works Animal Farm and 1984. He was also an accomplished and experienced essayist, writing on topics as diverse as anti-Semitism in England, Rudyard Kipling, Salvador Dali, and nationalism. Among his most powerful essays is the 1931 autobiographical essay "Shooting an Elephant," which Orwell based on his experience as a police officer in colonial Burma.
King Arthur, Camelot, Gawain, a bold challenge, a perilous journey, a beheading, an enchantment, and a shape-shifter are the ingredients of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. For the modern reader, Sir Gawain's tale is riveting even without understanding its symmetry or cultural and historical context. Viewed through the lens of the medieval thinker, reading this Arthurian tale becomes a rich, multi-layered experience.
Similes are used often in literature, appearing in every genre from poetry to prose and from epics to essays. Utilized by writers to bring their literary imagery to life, similes are an important component of reading closely and appreciating literature.
Allegories are similar to metaphors: in both the author uses one subject to represent another, seemingly unrelated, subject. However, unlike metaphors, which are generally short and contained within a few lines, an allegory extends its representation over the course of an entire story, novel, or poem. This lesson plan will introduce students to the concept of allegory by using George Orwell’s widely read novella, Animal Farm, which is available online through the EDSITEment-reviewed web resource Internet Public Library.
Understanding the context of literary modernism (specifically, modernist poetry) is important for students before they analyze modernist texts themselves. To that end, this lesson enables students to explore and consider the forces that prompted such a “fundamental change” in human nature.
Reading Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess,” students will explore the use of dramatic monologue as a poetic form, where the speaker often reveals far more than intended.
Students explore the metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell's use of tone, imagery, and poetic form as he attempts to seduce his “Coy Mistress.”
Students are often gleeful to discover that their reading homework involves only a few short poems. Yet the attentive student realizes that carefully reading a poem involves as much work as reading a short story, article, or passage from a novel. This lesson teaches students how to read a poem so that they are prepared, rather than simply present, for class discussion.
Through their interpretation of primary documents that reflect Victorian ideals, students can learn the cultural expectations for and limitations placed on Victorian women and then contemplate the writer Charlotte Brontë's position in that context. Then, through an examination of the opening chapters of Jane Eyre, students will evaluate Jane's status as an unconventional Victorian heroine.
In this lesson, students analyze, compare, and contrast two famous but different poems about death. Students will study poetry form (elegy and villanelle) and poetic devices such as repetition and tone.