Introducing the Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe Using Clips from "The Simpsons" Version of The Raven and "The Ladykillers"
Ages: 13+; High School Level;
Length: Film Clip: recitation of The Raven from "The Simpsons": 5 minutes; recitation of To Helen from "The Ladykillers": less than 3 minutes; Lesson: from one to three 45 - 55 minute classes, depending on the assignments given.
Excerpts from the Complete Snippet Lesson Plan
The Simpsons' Clip as Comic Relief: "The Simpsons" version of The Raven can be used as a few minutes of comic relief in any lesson on Poe and his poetry. What follows is one suggestion. TWM subscribers should feel free to adopt this lesson plan wholesale or to use parts of it in their own lesson plans.
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will be introduced to the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe through two of his most famous poems: The Raven and To Helen.
Rationale: Students will be introduced to the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe through two of his most famous poems: The Raven and To Helen.
Description of the Film Clip: "The Simpsons" version of Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven begins with Lisa Simpson assuring Bart that, although she is about to read from a school book, there is no danger that he will learn anything. She then begins to recite Poe's poem and is voiced-over by the resonant sound of James Earl Jones whose delivery is interrupted by Homer as he flounders about in fear. Bart's visage is suggested in the raven that hops into the room and his voice repeats the famous line, "Nevermore." Marge is shown in a painting titled "Lenore", done in triptych in order to make room for her hair.
The poem is edited to about half of the original but carries the full weight of the message and is enhanced by Homer's antics. At one point Homer pulls books off the shelf entitled "The Purloined Letter," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and "The Telltale Heart," short stories written by Poe, a bust of whom is seen in the background. The episode ends with Homer cowering in his bed, comforted by Marge.
"The Ladykillers" is a 2002 release starring Tom Hanks as a southern gentleman-thief, posing as a scholar to take up residence in a rooming house so that his gang can dig a tunnel into a bank. The film is a comedy. Hanks recites part of To Helen, one of Poe's most beautiful poems, in DVD scene six. The reading of the poem is enchanting. Students will listen.
USING THE FILM CLIP IN THE CLASSROOM
1. Review the film clip and to make sure it is suitable for the class. Review the Lesson Plan and decide how to present it to the class, making any necessary modifications.
2. Before class begins, prepare any vocabulary lists that will be used with the lesson as well as class copies of The Raven and To Helen.
3. Become familiar with the location of the clip on the DVD. Cue the DVD to the beginning of the film clip. Make sure that all necessary materials are available.
Step by Step
1. Deliver the biographical information on Poe in a brief lecture or have the class read a brief written biography of the poet.
A short biographical sketch of Edgar Allan Poe is included in the Snippet Lesson Plan at this point.
2. After students have become familiar with the biography of Edgar Allan Poe, show the episode for overall delight unencumbered by the notion that a test may follow. Then distribute the following list of vocabulary words and ask that the students find definitions, either on their own or in groups so that the work can be divided and the definitions shared. This task should be completed prior to the second viewing of the episode.
A comprehensive vocabulary list for The Raven is included in the Snippet Lesson Plan at this point.
3. Once students are familiar with the definitions of the words used in the poem, distribute the complete version of The Raven. Read it with the students, again noting the vocabulary words and making certain that the definitions they have found fit into the context of the poem. For example, the word "gloat" means not only to delight in self-satisfaction; it means to "refract light from". Students may enjoy noting the double meaning,
The Snippet Lesson Plan continues with activities and assignments on The Raven and a discussion and assignment for To Helen.
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