by Ira Sher
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
- Saul McLeod
The Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted by Phillip Zimbardo in 1971. By organizing an exercise that simulated prison life, Zimbardo intended to discover how quickly people conformed to the roles of guard and prisoner. While many people thought that brutality reported among American prison guards had to do with personalities, some thought it had to do with the prison environment.Pair “The Man in the Well” with “The Stanford Prison Experiment” and ask students to trace the themes of “deindividuation” and cruelty in each text. Then, lead a class discussion about the nature of evil and its relationship to power.
The Pit and the Pendulum
- Edgar Allan Poe
In this classic example of Poe suspense, an unnamed narrator describes the torments endured as a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition.Pair “The Man in the Well” with “The Pit and the Pendulum” and ask students to discuss how power corrupts. Why do people who are in charge allow other human beings to suffer?
The Limits of Empathy
- David Brooks
In his opinion piece “The Limits of Empathy,” David Brooks discusses what it means to be empathetic and whether or not empathy can influence us to act morally.Pair “The Man in the Well” with “The Limits of Empathy” and ask students to discuss whether the children in the short story have empathy. Do students think that David Brooks’ argument applies to the children in the short story? Would the children have been more likely to help the man if they felt empathy or a sense of duty? Why?
Excerpt from “The Overcoat”
- Nikolai Gogol
In this excerpt from Nikolai Gogol’s short story “The Overcoat,” a man is harassed by his coworkers as he attempts to work.Pair “The Man In the Well” with “Excerpt from The Overcoat” and ask students to discuss the nature of human cruelty. Why do the children in “The Man in the Well” neglect to help the man trapped in the well? Why do the men in “Excerpt from The Overcoat” harass Akakiy? How do both texts expose the cruelty that humans are capable of?