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  • Subject: Literature
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. Some fictional literary characters become so famous that they enter popular culture in other forms—movies, games, toys.
2. Working on a product such as a game often demands a collaborative effort.


For this lesson, you will need:
The novel Dracula
Sheets of cardboard, oak tag, or some other stiff material to be decorated as game boards and to be cut up into cards for the games
Pairs of dice for each group
Multiples of various small objects—buttons, coins, bottle tops, and so on—for students to use as playing pieces
Markers to decorate game boards
Old magazines to cut up for illustrations on game boards


1. Encourage students to name favorite board games.
2. Discuss with your students features that are common to board games:
  • A starting point and an ending point
  • Playing pieces
  • Dice or a wheel with spinner
  • Cards with directions
  • Places on the board that if landed on provide a shortcut or force backward movement for a playing piece
3. Proceed to discuss with students the ways in which the story Dracula can be viewed in terms of a board game:
  • How do the characters in Dracula "advance"?
  • What obstacles get in the way of the novel's characters' progress?
  • What gives the novel's characters strength? What weakens the novel's characters?
  • What symbols in the novel can be used in some way—if only for decoration—in the board game?
  • How does Bram Stoker's story end? What alternative endings can students conceive of?
4. When the discussion is complete, organize students into groups, and give each group the assignment to create an illustrated game board, game pieces, and written rules for its version of The Dracula Game. Students will work with the materials listed in Materials.
5. When the games are still in a draft stage, have each group run a product test by explaining the work-in-progress to another group and asking for feedback. Then the groups should go on to revise their games.
6. When the games are finished, so to speak, ask each group to give an oral presentation on how the product reflects the assignment. Then rotate the games around the room so that groups play one another's games.
7. Finally, conduct a class discussion in which students evaluate the pros and cons of the games they've reviewed.

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Instead of dividing the class into groups, let all the individuals in the class work as one large group with you as group leader.

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Discussion Questions

1. What elements of the gothic genre are found in Dracula ? Consider characters, conflicts, setting, tone, and symbols.
2. Describe Dracula as a simple tale of good versus evil. Which characters or ideas does Stoker depict as "good"? Which does he depict as "evil"? How do these characters and ideas conflict within the story?
3. What did Dracula represent within the context of Stoker's story? Explore the question in the context of the following assertion: Dracula is all things to all people.
4. Evaluate the effects that Dracula has on the various characters he encounters in the story. How does he bring out their best and most noble instincts? How does he bring out their worst or least attractive qualities?
5. What is the significance of blood in Dracula ? What is its value to humans? To the vampire? Explore the literal and symbolic meanings of blood in the story.
6. Explain some ways Dracula remains an icon in today's popular culture. Compare and contrast the different ways Dracula is portrayed in movies, television, and other books. Is Dracula's power as a symbol increased or diminished when he is "rewritten" into new texts?

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You can evaluate the students in terms of collaboration, oral presentation, and class discussion(s).
Make notes about student participation, cooperation, and ability to compromise.
Use the following three-point rubric:
Three points: highly organized oral explanation of the game; very clear articulation
Two points: organized oral explanation of the game; mostly articulate presentation
One point: disorganized oral presentation; unclear speech
Make notes about students' willingness to volunteer but not monopolize the discussion.

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Count Darwin: A Time Line
Note that Dracula has been called a shape-shifter because he can change into various animals. Explain that some scholars believe that in depicting Dracula as a shape-shifter, Bram Stoker was drawing on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution—specifically, the idea that all species, including humans, evolved from earlier animals. With this idea in mind, work with your students to create an illustrated time line that traces Dracula's evolution throughout the novel. Label each shape he assumes with a short student-composed description.
When the time line is complete, discuss the transformations further:
  • Do the transformations reflect evolutionary history? That is, do the shapes Dracula assumes become more advanced as the novel progresses?
  • Is there some other pattern to Dracula's changes?
  • What comment, if any, does Bram Stoker seem to be making about evolution?

Live from Transylvania: A News Report
Ask your students to write a radio news report of Dracula's death. Direct them to begin their stories with a one-paragraph lead that summarizes who, what, where, when , why, and how Dracula is killed. Each subsequent paragraph in the rest of the report should contain descriptive adjectives; students might build these paragraphs around details taken directly from the book. Encourage students to include interviews of police and community leaders as well as of the novel's other characters who can provide eyewitness testimony—quotations that reflect the characters' motivations and biases. They can also include reports from England and Transylvania. Finally, advise them that to make their news reports balanced, they should include what others know or suspect about Dracula's own point of view. They might even want to create a character to defend and explain Dracula's behavior.

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Suggested Readings

Vampire: The Complete Guide to the World of the Undead
Manuela Dunn Mascetti. Penguin Books USA, Inc., 1992.
This intriguing and wonderfully artistic book on vampires explores their history and myths, as well as the presence of Dracula throughout world history.

Dracula: Between Tradition and Modernism
Carol A. Senf. Twayne Publications, 1998.
Why has the myth of Dracula remained popular around the world since Dracula 's publication in 1897? This book delves into that question and explores Dracula's place in history and in the modern world.

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Dracula's Homepage
Extensive links dealing with Dracula.

Dracula's castle
Visit and view where Vlad the Impaler is said to have lived briefly and learn about his life.

Vlad Dracula: An intriguing figure in the fifteenth century
Read the story of Vlad the Impaler.

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    alienation
Definition: A withdrawing or separation of a person or a person's affections from an object or position of former attachment.
Context: After being rejected by her friends, the girl was overwhelmed with a feeling of alienation.

speaker    anxiety
Definition: Painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind, usually over an impending or anticipated ill.
Context: Dracula's persistence in attacking Mina filled John with anxiety.

speaker    appropriation
Definition: Taking for one's own use.
Context: Popular culture's appropriation and distortion of Dracula's image would have enraged Bram Stoker.

speaker    contagion
Definition: A contagious disease.
Context: The deadly contagion wiped out an entire population.

speaker    exotic
Definition: Strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual.
Context: The unfamiliar people appeared exotic to John.

speaker    icon
Definition: Emblem; symbol.
Context: Dracula has become an icon representing evil.

speaker    mundane
Definition: Characterized by the practical, transitory, and ordinary.
Context: Eating the same meal three times a day can become very mundane.

speaker    transfusion
Definition: The process of transfusing fluid into a vein or artery.
Context: The accident victim is in dire need of a transfusion.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: language arts
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts.
Benchmark: Knows the defining characteristics of a variety of literary forms and genres (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, myths, poems, biographies, autobiographies, science fiction, supernatural tales, satires, parodies, plays, American literature, British literature, world and ancient literature, the Bible).

Benchmark: Understands historical and cultural influences on literary works.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: language arts
Demonstrates competence in the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing.
Benchmark: Uses descriptive language that clarifies and enhances ideas (e.g., stimulates the imagination of the reader, translates concepts into simpler or more easily understood terms).

Benchmark: Uses a variety of techniques to provide supporting detail (e.g., analogies, anecdotes, restatements, paraphrases, examples, comparisons).

Benchmark: Uses a variety of techniques to convey a personal style and voice.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: language arts
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process.
Identifies and analyzes the philosophical assumptions and basic beliefs underlying an author's work.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: historical understanding
Understands the historical perspective.
Analyzes the influences specific ideas and beliefs had on a period of history and specifies how events might have been different in the absence of those ideas and beliefs.

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Summer Productions, Inc.

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