Essay on The Cask Of Amontillado, By Edgar Allan Poe

Essay on The Cask Of Amontillado, By Edgar Allan Poe

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Gothic literature is known for captivating readers by bringing to light the dark side of humanity. The Gothic possesses many key elements such as paranoia, anxiety, death, etc. It strikes fear and suspense in the reader not by creating fictional monsters, but showing the reader the types of monsters that lurk within human beings. In “the Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, various themes of the Gothic are present throughout the short story such as gloom and doom, darkness, and madness. These elements are used to enhance the central theme of the piece: revenge. I will argue that Poe uses a number of the Gothic elements to craft an intense dark tale of revenge: an unreliable narrator, madness, darkness, a haunted setting, and evil/devil
Within the first paragraph of the short story, the reliability of the narrator becomes questionable to the reader. When Montresor justifies his reasoning for seeking retribution against Fortunato he is deliberately vague: “The thousand injuries of Fortunato…when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge” (Poe 100). The ambiguity of Montresor’s reasoning for seeking revenge leaves the reader questioning whether Montresor’s actions are justifiable or if they are trivial transgressions that rational people would ignore. The lack of a clearly stated motive allows the rationality of Montresor’s mind to be called into question early in the tale. It hints at the Gothic element of madness when Montresor does not state the specific reason why he seeks to harm Fortunato; the reason for the lack of motive could be that the narrator recognizes his justification while rational in his mind is venturing upon madness for the normal person. Moreover, Poe introduces the time period of the story: “the supreme madn...


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...r, the connection of Montresor to the serpent brings not only the Gothic component of evil, but also suggests a connection to the devil; also, Poe does not merely use a serpent, but a fanged serpent in reference to Montresor, which means that the serpent is venomous. Using the venomous serpent to portray Montresor in the coat of arms suggests that Montresor’s strike against Fortunato will be a deadly one. Without the use of Gothic elements to create a dark and suspenseful narrative, this story of revenge might be mistaken for a tale of justice. Removal of the Gothic elements in “the Cask of Amontillado,” would greatly reduce the quality of the work and possibly change the interpretation of the short story. In sum, without using elements of the Gothic, a tale of revenge could not be created because it would lack the darkness needed to craft a quality story of revenge.

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