Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Joke Is on You

Barbara Finn
Escambia County Schools


The student uses prereading strategies to prepare and be able to understand Poe's short story, “The Cask of Amontillado.”


The student selects and uses prereading strategies that are appropriate to the text (such as discussion, making predictions, brainstorming, generating questions, and previewing) to anticipate content, purpose, and organization of a reading selection.


-Overhead projector
-Overhead screen
-One transparency with the definitions of: cask, catacombs, and Amontillado (See Associated File)
-Teacher's Edition of English I Prentice Hall Literature Book (or similar text containing short story)
-Class set of short stories


1. The teacher writes on the board (prior to the class), “Too much drink can be deadly! (Even before the car was invented.) What is a catacomb? What is a cask? Amontillado?”
2. The teacher prepares an overhead transparency with the definitions ahead of time. (See Associated File)


Put on the board, “Too much drink can be deadly! (Even before the car was invented.) What is a catacomb? What is a cask? Amontillado?”

1. Discuss this before going in to the lesson by asking:
What do I mean by “too much drink?” (Can you remember a character from a movie who had too much to drink? Describe them. How did they act? Did they seem to lose control of their senses?)

2. What do I mean by “even before the car was invented?” (This should provide a clue that the story takes place sometime before the 20th century.) This can also lead discussion into the time (setting) of the story and how wines were stored…in catacombs, thus leading to the following question. “Where do you suppose these casks might be kept?” Cask is an archaic word and provides a clue as to the period in the setting of the story.

3. Define catacomb, cask, and Amontillado on an overhead. (See Associated File)

4. Have students write these definitions in their notebooks.

5. The students and teacher read aloud the first two pages of “The Cask of Amontillado” and students discuss:
a. the mental state of the narrator,
b. the situation of the story,
c. the party (somewhat like Mardi Gras),
d. Fortunato's condition after being at the party for sometime,
e. The conversation between the narrator and Fortunato, and
f. the social status of both characters.

6. After reading, students engage in discussion on predicting the development of the mental state of the narrator and the relationship of the narrator to Fortunato.

7. The students then write three questions in their notebooks. The students generate threee questions predicting:
a. the mental state of the narrator,
b. the relationship of the narrator (protagonist*) and Fortunato (antagonist*) and
c. what they think will happen in the story.

8. Students turn in notebooks for assessment on the three questions and notes (definitions).

*Note: The terms protagonist and antagonist will be defined in the next lesson.


The students receive a “Great Job” stamp if they have completed the job or a “You're on Your Way” stamp if they have completed at least 1/2 of the job. If the student has less than 1/2, there will be a “Please See the Teacher” stamp.

Attached Files

This file contains definitions for “The Cast of Amontillado.”     File Extension: pdf

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