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Madness and Fear in Assignation, Cask of Admontillado, Fall of the House of Usher, and Masque of th

Powerful Essays
Madness and Fear in Assignation, Cask of Admontillado, Fall of the House of Usher, and Masque of the Red Death

Poe’s madmen are all obsessed with death. Existence within reality eventually becomes impossible. Poe usually places his madmen within a room or other enclosure, but they are rarely ever outside. When we do come across an exterior, nature does its best to repress, confine and enclose the man. The protagonist in Poe’s “The Assignation” sums up the combination of time and space within Poe’s stories and says, “I have … framed for myself … a bower of dreams. Properties of place, and especially of time, are the bugbears which terrify mankind from the contemplation of the magnificent” (301). The mental state of the character produces the setting and atmosphere, which usually results in the manifestation of that which is feared. The character manipulates his environment and uses tangible buildings and their contents as talismans or charms to outwit death. However, while the madman may try to circumvent death, it is actually the experience of dying that he fears, and despite his best intentions, death comes anyway.

“The Cask of Admontillado” features the madman Montressor who seeks relief from his tormentor, and plans the perfect crime, “to punish with impunity” (274). Montressor painstakingly formulates the plan to rid himself of Fortunato, his tactless and unsuspecting friend. The fact that the crime is detailed meticulously in “Cask” is odd considering the narrator’s obsession with planning the perfect crime and his equal obsession with the absence of detection. Does the anxious tone in the confession-like story indicate that Montressor falls victim to his own perfect crime and awaits execution? In his confession, Mo...

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...sity Press, 1987. 177-214.

Kinkead-Weekes, Mark. “Reflections On, and In ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’” Edgar Allan Poe: The Design of Order. Ed. A Robert Lee. New Jersey: Barnes & Noble Books, 1987. 17-65.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Assignation.” The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Ed. Hervey Allen. New York: Parkway Printing Company, 1938. 293-302.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask of Admontillado.” The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Ed. Hervey Allen. New York: Parkway Printing Company, 1938. 274-79.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Ed. Hervey Allen. New York: Parkway Printing Company, 1938. 231-45.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Masque of the Red Death.” The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Ed. Hervey Allen. New York: Parkway Printing Company, 1938. 269-73.
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