Comparing the Narration of The Cask of Amontillado and The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe
Length: 1322 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
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Edgar Allen Poe is the author of many great pieces of literature. He uses his narrators to explain situations that are going on in their life. The narrators of "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Black Cat" demonstrate their love for mans inhumanity to man and animals through horrific murders.
In "Cask of Amontillado", Montresor is the narrator. "The thousand of injuries of Fortunato he has borne as he best could; but when he ventures upon insult, Montresor vows revenge" (Poe 528). As the story unfolds, "Montresor's idea of perfect revenge" is "characteristically precise and logical in detail" as to how he commits his crime (Delaney 1).
While at the carnival, Montresor bought some of the finest Amontillado wine to use in his vengeful plan to murder Fortunato. He then meets his "friend," Fortunato. Fortunato is wearing "a tight fitting parti-striped dress and head is surmounted by the conical cap and bells" (Poe 528). By him wearing this outfit, makes it great for the narrator because he is going to make a fool out of Fortunato. Montresor is a manipulative person. He challenges Fortunato's connoisseurship on wine tasting and leads him to his family estate.
When they arrive at the Montresor estate, Montresor leads Fortunato down the stairs into the catacombs. Down here is where the Amontillado Fortunato is going to taste and where the revenge of Montresor is going to take place. As he get closer and closer, the narrator opens up more and more to how he is going to kill his "friend". It sound like it is a premeditated murder. Montresor seems so inconspicuous that he acts like he cares about Fortunato which is still a part of his plan.
Montresor makes another manipulative move and says "we will go back; your health is precious" (Poe 529). This is how the narrator acts like he cares about him, but in reality he is does not care about him. So to continue adding wood to the fire, Montresor gives Fortunato some more wine to keep him drunk. Further down in the catacombs, Fortunato explains that he is a Mason by showing off distinct signs. Montresor on the otherhand is a mason too. He is a brick mason. He carried a trowel "beneath the folds of his rolquelaire" (Poe 529).
Montresor commits murder in a horrific way. By the time he gets to the bottom of the catacombs where the Amontillado is suppose to be, Fortunato is well intoxicated. This is exactly what Montresor wants. Montresor already has hooks and chains in the wall where he is going to chain up his so call "friend" Fortunato. He says that "he has fettered him to the granite" (Poe 530). The reader may think that Montresor is going to leave Fortunato to die in the chains. Instead, Montresor moves some bones out of the way and begins to wall the intoxicated guy up. This is how cold-hearted Montresor is when it comes to killing Fortunato. As the wine of Fortunato wears off, Montresor keeps right on building. He never really thinks of how wrong this is. He is just out to get revenge for the insults of Fortunato. He finally finishes the wall with Fortunato behind it, locked in chains hanging on his deathbed. Montresor is so determined to make this murder a complete success that he makes the wall look like the rest of the walls in the catacombs. "Against new masonry he reerects the old rampart of bones" (Poe 531). This is necessary to keep the look of the catacombs original if he does not want to get caught. Montresor finishes off the murder and gets revenge for the insults of Fortunato.
In "The Black Cat", the narrator is unknown. Like Montresor, the Narrator is this character who goes from sanity to insanity. All this saneness is achieved through a series of household events. "In their consequences, these events terrifies, tortures, and destroys the Narrator" (Poe 522). The Narrator is married and has pets. "They have birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat" (Poe 522). The cat's name is Pluto. In contrast to Montresor's friend, Pluto, the cat, is the Narrator's friend. In "The Black Cat" the Narrator is an alcoholic unlike in "The Cask of Amontillado" the enemy is the alcoholic.
After several evenings of intoxication, violence against his wife and the other pets, he turns on Pluto his "friend". "He seizes the cat; when in his fright at the narrator's violence, the cat inflicts a slight wound upon the narrator's hand with his teeth" (Poe 523). This is where the narrator allows the alcohol do the thinking for him. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a "pen-knife, opens it, grasps the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket" (Poe 523). Next he goes to sleep and wakes up drinking again. After the cat heals, he decides to hang Pluto. "He slips a noose about Pluto's neck and hangs it to the limb of a tree" (Poe 523). He did it because he, like Montresor, feels no pain in torturing his enemy and because of the alcohol.
The narrator is out one day and finds a second cat that is similar to Pluto. Like Pluto, "it has been deprived of one of its eyes" (Poe 525). The wife of the narrator likes the cat. As the story grows, the Narrator eventually begins to hate the new cat just like he did Pluto.
Like "The Cask of Amontillado", the brutality of the murder the narrator commits happens in the cellar of his house. He goes to the cellar one day and is almost knocked down by the cat while walking down the stairs. This household event makes the Narrator upset. He grabs an ax and "aims to blow at the animal which, of course, will
prove instantly fatal if it descends as he wishes" (Poe 526). His wife then steps in the way to try to stop him from hurting the feline. Because she does this, he then takes the ax and chops her in the head. She is dead instantly.
The way the evidence of the murder is covered up seems relatively normal during this time period. The Narrator attempts to hide the body in a wall in the cellar. He removes the brick and pins the body up in the wall. Next he uses mortar and brick to wall up the body. He makes it look original. Unlike "The Cask of Amontillado", in "The Black Cat" the police come looking for the missing wife. While the police were looking for the body, the Narrator taps on the wall where the body is hidden causing a loud "howl- a wailing shrieks, half of horror and half of triumph" from the missing cat (Poe 527). This gives the police the clue and immediately begins to tear down the wall to get to the body. The Narrator is therefore caught.
The narrators of "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Black Cat" are alike but differ in many ways. They murder their enemies with no remorse whatsoever towards them. When they kill someone, they attempt to hide them in walls by bricking them up. The difference is that in "The Cask of Amontillado", Montresor watches Fortunato die slowly, a revenge killing. In "The Black Cat", the Narrator kills his wife instantly due to her stepping in the way of him trying to kill the cat.
Poe, Edgar A. "The Black Cat." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2007. 522-527.
Poe, Edgar A. "The Cask of Amontillado." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2007. 528-531.