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The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

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To some of the most fanatic and most creative Poe fans the question may arise: could I reproduce the great Edgar’s works? And if the answer is yes, then how? We might assume that Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most recognizable authors and poets not only of his age but of the whole modern literature, but still we would face numerous difficulties in trying to imitate his writing. Also, placing him into a certain style or literary movement would give us some really tough hours. Poe can be considered either a Romantic or Gothic writer but we could find a number of arguments and counterarguments for this matter. Poe, in fact, reinterpreted the whole Gothic horror style and created a unique, distinct brew of Gothic fiction, Romanticism and his own gloomy mind. On the basis of A Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart, we can deduct that despite the uniqueness of Poe’s works there are some recurring elements in Poe’s short-stories. Generally, if anyone wanted to write a Poesque short story, here are the ingredients: a fine case of murder, a big spoonful of madness and a pinch of revenge.

Despite Edgar Allan Poe being one of the inventors of detective fiction, the Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart are not about detection but the process of the murder. The former one is about Montresor, who tells how he killed his ’friend’ Fortunato while he was illuminated. Montresor plans to commit the perfect murder ("I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.”), and seemingly succeeds in that, but scholars like Thomas Pribek, Walter Stepp, J. Gerald Kennedy, Charles May, G.R. Thompson and Scott Peeples argue that Montresor has failed to commit the perfect crime because he has suffered the pangs of remorse. (Baraban 47-48)

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...leries of Polonius, and the clumsy jests of the Roman citizens, were omitted, or vested in heroics?”

A Cask of Amontillado beautifully exemplifies this topos: the murderer, Montresor plans to kill his friend as he has been offended too many times by Fortunato. Now at least, he had an ’intelligible’ motive to kill Fortunato. In Tell-Tale Heart however, there is no clear-cut hint that the protagonist wants to get even with the old man (or the eye). Despite the lack of vengeance in the murder, the killer’s mind and the old man’s ghost gets revenged on the narrator, as our killer goes mad and confesses everything to the police.

Works Cited

Baraban, Elena V. The Motive for Murder in "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, Washington: Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association , Vol. 58, No. 2 (2004), pp. 47-62
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