?The Cask of Amontillado? raises a question pertaining to the multiple character of the self (Davidson 202); Can harmony of one's self be restored once primal impulses have been acted upon? This question proposes the fantasy of crime without consequence (Stepp 60). Edgar Allan Poe uses first person point of view, vivid symbolism and situational irony to show that because of man's inner self, revenge is ultimately not possible.
Edward Davidson suggests that Montresor, the main character of the story, "has the power of moving downward from his mind or intellectual being and into his brute or physical self and then return again to his intellectual being with his total self being unimpaired" (202). However, Poe tells this story from Montresor?s point of view. The use of first person narration provides the reader with insight into Montresor's inner struggles. First person narration is Poe's method of insuring the reader understands that Montresor is not successful at this harmony.
The thoughts and feelings of Montresor lead the reader to conclude that he is not successful at revenge. Montresor says in telling his story, "You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however that I gave utterance to a threat" (153). By communicating in this way, the question arises of who Montresor is actually speaking to, and why he is telling this story fifty years later. One can only conclude that it is for one of two reasons: he is either bragging or finally giving confession. As he tells the story, it becomes obvious that he has not yet filled his need to win, and now a half of a century later, is still struggling with his conscience. As Gregory Jay s...
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...onscious self is obsessed with an evil, the conscious must overcome it or a paradox will result in which both selves parish.
Barbour, Brian. "Poe and Tradition." Bloom 63-81.
Bloom, Harold. Interpretations: The Tales of Poe. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.
Davidson, Edward H. Poe: A Critical Study. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1980.
Frieden, Ken. "Poe's Narrative Monologues." Bloom 135-48.
Gargano, James. "The Question of Poe's Narrators." Regan 164-71.
Jay, Gregory. "Poe: Writing and the Unconscious." Bloom 83-110.
Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Cask of Amontillado." Literature for Composition. Sylvan Barnet, et al, eds. 4th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. 153-57.
Regan, Robert. Poe: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1967.
Stepp, Walter. "The Ironic Double in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" Bloom 55-62.
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