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Common Core Standards: ELA See All Teacher Resources

Grades 9-10

Reading RL.9-10.7

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

RL.9-10.7. Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment.

Many artists draw from the same sources and/or from one another, which means that themes in literature can also be found in paintings, music, and other assorted arts. Since each person sees a particular work of art differently, however, any work that’s based on another work will naturally emphasize some points and de-emphasize others. It’s even possible for one artist to respond to another artist’s work in a way that would make zero sense to the first artist - not merely because the medium is different, but because the first artist didn’t intend to convey any of what the second artist saw in the work. Not surprisingly, being able to look at different scenes and themes from various perspectives is crucial in developing a deeper understanding of Western literature, art, and music, which is so often based on itself.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example 1

Sample Activities for Use in Class

1. A Poem Based on a Painting

Read or have students read “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden.

Also, have students examine Brueghel’s Landscape With the Fall of Icarus, on which the above poem is based.

Discussion Questions:

1. Are the poem and the painting related? If so, how? How can you tell? (For instance - have students point out the falling Icarus, the green water, the ship, and so on.) What elements from the poem are not in the painting?

2. How does the poem treat the fact of Icarus’s death? How does the painting treat it? What parts of the poem or painting support your interpretation? (You may need to explain the myth of Icarus and Daedalus and/or spend some time discussing the moral thereof, which is usually given as “pride goeth before a fall” or something similar. Both Auden and Breughel seem to treat Icarus’s fall as just another thing that happened, but nothing earth-shattering - except, presumably, to Icarus.)

3. Does the poem handle Icarus’s death in a way the painting does not do, and if so, what is it? (Possible Answers: The poem identifies Icarus’s death as suffering or tragedy that is, like all suffering, tucked away in a corner from the regular activity of the world, which goes on whether or not suffering occurs. The image of no one really caring about Icarus’s fall is apparent in the painting, but the underlying theme of suffering is less so.)

Example 2

2. A Painting Based on a Poem

Have students examine William Maw Egley’s painting The Lady of Shalott.

Then, read or have students read the poem “The Lady of Shalott” by Lord Tennyson.

1. Which portion of the poem does the painting depict? Which details in the painting tell you this is so? (Possible Answers: The painting depicts the moment the Lady of Shalott looks out her window at Camelot. Note the loom behind her and the mirror hanging at the left of the painting, which shows a knight in its surface.)

2. What parts of the painting are not in the poem? Why might the painter have added them to the painting? What might they tell you about the person, place, or events in the painting that you can’t learn from the poem? (Possible Answers: The poem does not mention the colors the painter chose, or the Lady of Shalott’s dress, or the details of the reflection of Sir Lancelot - which isn’t “bright” in the painting, as it’s described in the poem. This may indicate the reflected knight is actually the lady’s doom, rather than her “knight in shining armor.”)

Quiz 1 Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

I. Questions 1-10 are based on William Maw Egley’s painting Prospero and Miranda and the following extract from Shakespeare’s The Tempest:

If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer: a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her,
Dash'd all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perish'd.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallow'd and
The fraughting souls within her.

Be collected:
No more amazement: tell your piteous heart
There's no harm done.

O, woe the day!

I have done nothing but in care of thee,
Of thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter, who
Art ignorant of what thou art, nought knowing
Of whence I am, nor that I am more better
Than Prospero, master of a full poor cell,
And thy no greater father.

--Act I, Scene ii

  1. The painting makes it appear as though the tone of the passage is most likely:

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - Notice how Miranda is looking into the distance; the passage includes her lines about her fear for the sailors aboard a ship that has just been wrecked in a storm.

  2. Which characters appear in the passage from the play, but not in the painting?

    Correct Answer:

    The shipwrecked sailors

    Answer Explanation:

    • (c) - Prospero mentions being “master of a full poor cell,” but this is actually a reference to a monk’s cell or, in this case, a small, isolated household; there are no mentions of prisoners in the text, making (d) the better answer.
    • (d) - Miranda mentions them, but they do not appear in the painting. *correct answer

  3. Which characters from the play are also shown in the painting?

    Correct Answer:

    Prospero and Miranda

  4. Based on the passage, the painter most likely chose to make Miranda the central character in the painting because:

    Correct Answer:

    He wanted to show Miranda’s anxiety over the fates of the sailors.

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - Notice how Miranda is looking away from her father as if worried, while her father is looking at her - presumably because she is or has been talking.

  5. Based on the passage, the expression on Prospero’s face in the painting indicates that, at this moment, he is most likely:

    Correct Answer:

    Listening to Miranda’s concerns about the sailors.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (c) - See Question 4: She’s concerned, and in the painting, he’s looking at her. In the text, we know he’s listening to her because he responds to her. *correct answer
    • (d) - There’s no evidence in the passage for this, making (c) the better answer.

  6. Based on the painting, if the painter were choosing actors for a production of the play, the actor he would most likely choose to play Miranda would be:

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    (b) - Miranda is quite young in the painting.

  7. The painter who created this painting, William Maw Egley, also painted a scene from Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalott.” He MOST likely chose these themes because:

    Correct Answer:

    Paintings of scenes from well-known works of literature were popular in his time.

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - The other “most plausible” explanation is that Egley liked illustrating scenes from literature, but this is not one of the five options. In fact, Egley was a Victorian painter whose work appeared at a time when knowing one’s literature and showing it off in different formats - like paintings - was “in.”

  8. This painting was created about 200 years after Shakespeare wrote this play, so Shakespeare was long dead before Egley painted this picture. If Egley had met Shakespeare while working on this painting, however, he would MOST likely have asked Shakespeare which of the following questions?

    Correct Answer:

    “When you picture Miranda in your mind, what does she look like?”

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - As a painter, he’d want to know about the visual details of the work.

  9. If you were familiar with the entire play but had never seen this painting before, which details in the painting will give you a clue that it depicts this particular passage from the play?

    Correct Answer:

    Miranda is looking outward with a look of concern, and her lines in the play tell us that she’s worried about the sailors.

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - These two elements match, indicating that the painting “lines up” with these lines.

  10. Based on the passage, if the painter were to add another character to this painting, it would MOST likely be:

    Correct Answer:

    A shipwrecked sailor.

    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - Sailors are the only other people mentioned in the play so far.

Quiz 2 Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

II. Questions 1-10 are based on Henry Stacy Marks’ painting Dogberry Examining Conrade and Borachio and on the following extract from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing:

Is our whole dissembly appeared?

O, a stool and a cushion for the sexton.

Which be the malefactors?

Marry, that am I and my partner.

Nay, that's certain; we have the exhibition to examine.

But which are the offenders that are to be examined? let them come before master constable.

Yea, marry, let them come before me. What is your name, friend?


Pray, write down, Borachio. Yours, sirrah?

I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade.

Write down, master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do you serve God?

Yea, sir, we hope.


Away! you are an ass, you are an ass.

Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer, and, which is more, a householder, and, which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to; and a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath had losses, and one that hath two gowns and every thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass!

-- Act IV, Scene i

  1. Based on his misuse of the words “dissembly” (for “assembly”) and “malefactors” (meaning “people who did wrong,” but which he takes as a title of office), Dogberry is most likely:

    Correct Answer:

    Comic relief.

    Answer Explanation:

    (b) - His speech is intended to make the audience laugh.

  2. Which character from the play is shown in the painting?

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    (e) - Note that Dogberry has most of the lines, and the most comic lines, in the passage.

  3. Which character has speaking lines in the passage, but does not appear in the painting?

    Correct Answer:

    All of the above.

  4. Comparing this character’s lines in the passage to his expression in the painting, it is most likely that he is doing what in the painting?

    Correct Answer:

    Responding to Conrade after he called Dogberry an ass.

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - His expression is serious and he looks upset. Also, this is one of the more important things he says in the excerpt we have here; the others don’t quite merit a painting.

  5. During his lifetime, Henry Stacy Marks painted a number of works. In addition to this painting, he also painted a scene from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Which of the following is the MOST likely reason Marks chose these two written works (The Canterbury Tales and Much Ado About Nothing) to paint scenes from?

    Correct Answer:

    Both written works were well-known by the kind of people who would likely buy one of Marks’s paintings.

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - In fact they were, and are, key works of English literature.

  6. Which of the following is the MOST likely reason Marks chose to put only Dogberry in his painting of this passage?

    Correct Answer:

    Showing only Dogberry in the middle of a speech makes you feel as if you’re sitting there with Conrade and Borachio, listening to Dogberry give his famous comic speech.

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - The single person in the painting provides a sense of immediacy, while a group scene might not.

  7. If the painter were choosing actors for a stage version of the play, the actor he would most likely choose to play Dogberry would be:

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - The “I am an ass” speech is famous in Shakspeare’s comedies and in comedy plays in general.

  8. Based on the painting and the passage it depicts, the tone of the play is most likely:

    Correct Answer:


  9. If you were going to add paintings of Conrade and Borachio to this painting by Marks, you would MOST likely paint two characters who:

    Correct Answer:

    Look as ordinary as Dogberry, but maybe not as self-important.

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - Conrade and Borachio are apparently of a lower rank than Dogberry because Dogberry is questioning them, but they do not make themselves look foolish by mixing up words or proclaiming that they are “an ass” like Dogberry does.

  10. Based on Dogberry’s mistakes in using the wrong words and in proudly proclaiming himself to be “an ass,” which of the following does he MOST likely do with the information Conrade and Borachio give him?

    Correct Answer:

    Makes the main problem in the play even worse.

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - Someone who bungles his words the way Dogberry does is not likely to be clever with handling information.

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