Justification for Teaching

All students should have the opportunity to experience the truly unique, dark, and mysterious style of Edgar Allan Poe. His stories of horror illuminate a side of humanity that many other writers tend to avoid. Furthermore, Poe's literary technique can teach students about many writing elements. His themes of death, guilt, crime, and revenge are sure to captivate your students and spark their curiosity.

In the classroom, students will talk about humanity, ethics, and morality. They will see how Poe's writing techniques help to give these ideas a fuller meaning.

Key Literary Elements & Techniques

  • Symbolism
  • Foreshadowing
  • Allegory
  • Allusion
  • Irony
  • Personification
  • Paradox
  • Meter

Themes and Motifs

  • Death — Poe’s stories are filled with dark imagery and all forms of death.
  • Revenge — Poe often exposes the dark nature of revenge in his stories.
  • Guilt — The powerful emotion of guilt is perhaps most famously portrayed in the Tell-Tale Heart.

Key Facts

  • Recommended Grade Band: 11 – 12
  • Length: 232 pages


Many of Poe's works have been adapted to film. Some are more faithful to the source material than others.

  • The House of Usher (1960)
  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
  • Tales of Terror (1962)
  • The Raven (1963)
  • The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
  • The Tomb of Ligeia (1965)

External Resources

Edgar Allan Poe (Wikipedia)

Biography of Edgar Allan Poe (The European Graduate School)

Your Students will love:

  • The mysterious and dark tone of each story
  • The high level of technique in Poe's writing

Students may have problems with:

  • Understanding all of the literary techniques Poe uses

Available from Prestwick House

We have an assortment of teaching resources for Edgar Allan Poe's works, including Teaching Units, Activity Packs, and more. See a list here.

Other Prestwick House Teacher's Guides to Literature

See all our Teacher's Guide to Literature blog posts here.

The Best of Poe