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The story elements of “The Oval Portrait” by Edgar Allan Poe are identified in this short story lesson


Language Arts  


8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – “The Oval Portrait” by Edgar Allan Poe
By – Jannatun
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 8-12


      This lesson is part of a short story unit. The students producing their own short stories is the final product of the unit. My goal is to give the students inspiration for their stories. This lesson uses the short story

The Oval Portrait

    by Edgar Allen Poe and the idea of a story behind a picture.


    The student will be able to:

  • come up with a story from a picture and
  • identify the elements of the short story The Oval Portrait .


      How can we use

The Oval Portrait

    as inspiration for our own writing?

Do Now:

    Copy the aim and objective.

Anticipatory Set:

  • Put a poster on the board which includes about six people in the drawing.
  • Student Activity: Pick one of the people in the poster or the artist. Write a paragraph about the person you have chosen. [Hint: how old is the person? What is the person doing here? Why is the person here?]
  • Give the students about 10 minutes to write the paragraph.
  • As a class, have the students share what they came up for each of the people.


  • Inform the students that we will be reading “The Oval Portrait” by Edgar Allan Poe in which the narrator discovers the story behind a portrait. The author uses a portrait to tell the story of a girl in the same manner as we came up with a story for the people in the poster.
  • Hand out copies of the story.
  • Ask if they know who Edgar Allan Poe was and give them information about him, such as what he was known for, the genre he wrote in and the era in which he lived.

Beginning reading the story:

  • Define words when they are encountered.
  • Clarify what is going on in the story and review the elements of short story when they are encountered.

Study Questions:

      What is the setting of the story?


      Who are the characters?


      What is so interesting about the portrait?


      What kind of man is the painter?


      What do you think of the conclusion?


      What is the writer saying about humanity?


    Edgar Allan Poe wrote in the Gothic genre, what Gothic elements are found in the story?

Notes: I did this lesson with my 8th grade students and they responded very well to the story. The anticipatory set hooked the students into the short story. The story is very short, about two pages, depending on the students and grade, you can finish the story in about two 48 minute classes.

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