SNIPPET LESSON PLAN FOR:
Comparing Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"
with the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil"
Subject: Literature/Literary Devices: Theme
Length: Video: 8 minutes; Lesson: one 45 - 55 minute class period.
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students studying American Literature will gain a sense of the writing of Nathaniel Hawthorne and see connections between his advanced thinking and similar themes found in pop culture. Students will make connections between the written word and other forms of media and be able to analyze and interpret the ideas and express contained therein. They will practice expressing heir ideas in a compare/contrast essay.
Rationale: The comparison between American literature of the first half of the 19th century and modern rock and roll will engage students and interest them in completing their assignments. Click Here for the specific College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards, set out in the 2010 Common Core State Standards, which are served by this Snippet Lesson Plan.
Description of the Story and the Lyrics: Hawthorne tells a story about a young man who leaves his wife, Faith, to explore the dark side by going into the forest at night to see what evils lurk there. He has an appointment to meet a stranger who can be seen as the personification of the devil. The stranger shows to Goodman Brown the hypocrisy and evil of the allegedly good people in his town and his family. The lyrics of "Sympathy for the Devil" communicate the same idea making reference to historical events in an echo of the examples given by the stranger. The events transcend time and are dissimilar in detail showing the broad range of evil in human affairs and the frequent duplicity in human behavior.
Using the Snippet in Class
2. Print the sections of Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown"that you intend to use to make the comparison between Hawthorne's literature and the music video. You may want to the students to read the story from the beginning since it sets up the situation. The specific paragraphs you will use for comparison to the music begins with "His head being turned back" and a description of the stranger nine paragraphs into the narrative. They end when the stranger says to Brown, " . . . prithee, don't kill me with laughing."
3. On the Internet, look for the rendition of the music video that will work best for the class. A good version can be found at Sympathy for the Devil. Note the drawings on Jagger's left arm and chest when he takes off his shirt.
4. Photocopy the lyrics for "Sympathy for the Devil" for distribution to the class or write them on the board before the class enters.
Step by Step
5. Ask several to students to describe what the devil and evil means to them. Response will vary and all serious efforts should be respected. Some students will state that the devil is a real being, the fallen angel Lucifer; others will see the devil as a concept representing a person's loss of integrity.
And I was round when jesus christ11. Ask students to find similarities in the historical allusions presented in both pieces. Suggested Response: The crucifixion of Jesus compares to the whipping of the Quaker woman for her beliefs; the murders of relatives described by Hawthorne's devil compare to the murder of young Anastasia; the destruction of Indian villages compares to the destruction caused by the blitzkrieg as well as the destruction of the hundred years of religious warfare described in the song.
12. Ask students to look carefully at both pieces and to determine how the characterization of the speaker in the song and the stranger in the story are similar or different. Suggested Response: Students will note that each is among the upper classes; each wants recognition, the devil in the story seeks a large congregation and the devil in the song is trying to make sure you know his name and what he's after.
13. Once students have seen similarities in the thoughts presented in the two pieces, both in terms of the nature of the stranger in the short story and the speaker in the lyrics, they should consider the differences that exist between the two. Suggested Response: They will probably note attitude: Hawthorne's character is condescending, in the song, he is boasting; Hawthorne focuses on hypocrisy whereas the character in the song blames each individual; in Hawthorne's world there is no question about what the devil wants, but in the song, one of the repeated refrains is "But what's puzzling you/Is the nature of my game."
14. To be certain the ideas are clear, ask students to write a list of event since 1950 that involve violence or hypocrisy that might well serve to make the authors' points with more modern references.
15. Concluding Activity/Assessment:
(a) Using the rubric you normally follow in your essays, instruct the students to write a short compare/contrast essay on the themes of the two works. Tell them to consider the idea that the devil, whose voice appears in each piece, thrives off of the hypocrisy and responsibility for evil that belongs to each of us.
(b) Write a monologue, coming from a character you create, referring to events from our times that show hypocrisy, or write a dialogue between two characters that you create which reveals, again, events from our times and the hypocrisy behind the actions of human beings. As Jaggar says, "it was you and me."
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