Edgar Allen Poe: The Tell – Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado” Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” deals with a man’s mental deterioration and decent into madness. The story focuses on the narrator and his obsessions. The story is told from the first person point of view. So the reader knows what the narrator thinks and sees. The narrator reveals his insanity through his obsessions. The narrator’s obsessions include obsessions with the old man’s eye, beating heart and the narrator’s own sanity.
The story is about the narrator who for eight consecutive nights goes to the bedroom of an old man. He stands at the door and watches the man sleep with a single ray of light pointing to the old man’s pale blue film covered evil eye. On the eighth night the man hears something in his room and sits up on his bed with his evil eye open and racing heartbeat consumes the narrator and he races to the bed and suffocates the old man. After the murder the narrator dismembers the body and buries the old man in the floorboards. The murder of the old man illustrates the extent to which the narrator separates the old man’s identity from his physical eye.
The narrator sees the eye as completely separate from the man, and as a result, he is capable of murdering him while maintaining that he loves him. As the story progresses, the narrator expresses that he is not mad but he is really trying to convince himself he is not insane. For instance, the narrator, at one point simply says, “If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. ” The narrator also has an unusual obsession with the old man’s eye.
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The idea of the “evil eye” carries on throughout the story, until finally the narrator snaps, and does something about it. The narrator had no real motive for killing the old man. He even states this at the beginning saying, “Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! ” It’s almost as if the narrator, as he is retelling the story, attempts to make up a motive for the murder. The narrator’s paranoia and guilt make it inevitable that he will give himself away. The police arrive on the scene to give him the opportunity to betray himself.
The more the narrator proclaims his own cool manner, the more he cannot escape the beating of his own heart, which he mistakes for the beating of the old man’s heart. As he confesses to the crime in the final sentence, he addresses the policemen as “villains,” indicating his inability to distinguish between their real identity and his own villainy and mental deterioration. In the short story “The Cask of Amontillado,” the story is told from the first person and features revenge by means of murder. Montresor claims that Fortunato has insulted him a thousand times.
Montresor uses “ Thousand injuries” and “insult” to make himself judge, jury and executioner like in the story “The Tell Tale Heart” when he uses the old man’s vulture like evil eye as excuse to murder the old man, which makes him an unreliable narrator. The name Fortunato that means “fortunate one”is a use of irony in the story because Fortunato is by the end of the story unfortunate. Montresor chooses to murder Fortunato during a carnival where Fortunato is dressed as a jester I think says something about Fortunato’s character. It may suggest that Fortunato is a jokester that Montresor took far too serious to want to murder him.
There are also elements of foreshadowing taking place. For example, Montresor leading Fortunato down to the depths of the catacombs is like leading him down to hell and death to come. Also when Fortunato says, “I shall not die of a cough” and Montresor says “true” foreshadows Fortunato’s death not by cough but by suffocation and dehydration. Fortunato’s conversation with Montresor about Free Masons foreshadows his demise. Fortunato challenges Montresor’s claim that he is a free mason is the last insult thrown at Montresor. Montresor shows him a trowel, which means he is a stonemason in the literal sense.
To go though these great lengths to kill someone because of insults shows Montresor’s diabolical insane nature. Fortunato is like the old man where they are innocent of any major wrongdoing, unable to defend themselves, entombed in the home, and murdered by an insane man. Works Cited Poe, Edgar Allen. “ The Cask of Amontillado. ” Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing. 7th ed. Kirszner & Mandell. Boston, MA Wadsworth Cage Learning, 2007. 331 – 336 Print. _. “ The Tell Tale Heart. ” Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing. 7th ed. Kirszner & Mandell. Boston, MA Wadsworth Cage Learning, 2007. 677 – 680 Print.
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