Reading for Halloween


In today’s multi-media world, we and students are bombarded by incredible graphics, surround sound with things swishing here and there, digitally recorded and enhanced audio so that you feel like you’re there.  For all this technology, when it comes to horror, there still is something missing.

Watch the horror for Halloween to see zombies and facemasks and blood dripping and so much more.  It’s scary for a moment but really that’s all.  We’re so accustomed to waiting until the next scene when the visuals and audio change and so does the mood.  There isn’t a great deal of sustained horror.

True horror comes from the mind.  When the mind is engaged, locked and loaded, there’s no way to escape from it.  You’re there and a part of it.

There is no better content for this scenario than that from Edgar Allen Poe.  When you’re reading Poe, it’s an experience like no other.  It’s the suspense and the imagination that only your mind can visualize.

Coming into Halloween, “The Tell Tall Heart” is classic classroom material for the older grades.  When you can empathize with a mad man, the story comes into complete perspective.  The story isn’t set in a glamourous setting.  It’s one man with his imagination.  The story has been retold many times but no better than through the genius of Vincent Price.  He models expressive reading and acting and we’re so fortunate to be able to relive it through YouTube.

The Tell Tale Heart is a short story as you’ll see from Price’s work.  In fact, it’s the perfect product for YouTube.  But, I think it’s also a spectacular exemplar for any class studying this work.  Using any camera or cell phone, student interpretations of a mad man’s ravings would be a terrific culminating activity.  The story lies not in the props or the lighting or the graphics but in the interpretation of Poe’s work.

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum on the web provides additional information and resources for teachers and students studying this and other of Poe’s works like “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Raven”, or “The Masque of the Red Death”.

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links for 2010-10-17