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Lesson Plan

Analyzing Symbolism, Plot, and Theme in Death and the Miser

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Analyzing Symbolism, Plot, and Theme in Death and the Miser

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Junius Wright

Junius Wright

Charleston, South Carolina


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students apply analytical skills to an exploration of the early Renaissance painting Death and the Miser by Hieronymous Bosch. Students sketch and label the painting, use an interactive tool to explore its elements, apply literary analysis tools to their interpretation, predict the painting's plot, and conclude the unit by creating a project that identifies and explains their interpretation of the painting.

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The Literary Element of Theme: This printable sheet provides students with a concise definition of theme, as well as steps for identifying the theme of a literary work.

Comic Creator: This online tool allows students to easily create and print comic strips.

Plot Diagram (interactive): Students can use this open-ended online tool to graph the plot of any story.

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In the introduction of his book, Reading in the Dark, John Golden states, "Kids tend to be visually oriented, able to point out every significant image in a three-minute MTV music video, but when it comes to doing the same with a written text, they stare at it as if they are reading German." Golden goes on to state "the skills they use to decode the visual image are the same skills they use for a written text" (xiii). Golden's book outlines how to use film to help students practice their skills so they can then be transferred to written texts. The following lesson is based on the same principle but uses a painting instead of a film to reinforce the skills that students use to analyze a work of literature.

Further Reading

Golden, John. 2001. Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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