Standing on a Literary Legend’s Shoulders

The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal–the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour…
Edgar Allen Poe Masque of the Red Death

In her book ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’, Clarissa Pinkola Estes recalls a numinous dream in which she found herself standing on the shoulders of an old woman. When she suggested that she was young and that she should carry the older woman on her shoulders the woman quite firmly told her that “this is the way it is meant to be”.

All writers stand on the shoulders of those who have walked before them. The art of story writing is a very old medium and so new young storytellers are entering a medium that has been going on for millennia! When working with the start of Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’ young storytellers are not only learning from a master story writer. They are also learning to stand on the shoulders of others and to reference those who have influenced their writing.

Children love the ‘Masque of the Red Death’ and they know, from the outset, that this is not going to end well, that the Prince is not going to defeat the Red Death.

For this task, we listened to the beginning of the story and then

  1. Spent time drawing the castle and what we thought Red Death looked like.
  2. Brainstormed and thought about how Red Death would enter Prince Prospero’s fortress.
  3. Projected a week ahead and arrived on the scene as investigative news reporters.
  4. Wrote a headline!
  5. Submitted a news report!
  6. Considered other ways that we could use this information. Suggestions included writing a ballad or a poem, creating a graphic novel, producing a television script and preparing a feature article exploring ways in which Red Death was finally contained.
  7. Designed costumes for the ball.

More Edgar Allen Poe Stimuli

Would You Visit the House of Usher?

7 thoughts on “Standing on a Literary Legend’s Shoulders

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