Literary Analysis of the Cask of Amontillado Assignment Help
Intro (1 Para, 5-10 lines): Bio of author & thesis statement (thesis = what you think is the major theme of the story)
Body (Multiple paras, 5-18 lines): Elaborate on categories 1-5 (in order)
Conclusion (1 Para, exactly 10 lines): Explain theme
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Literary Analysis of The Cask of Amontillado
Best known for his tales on all things macabre and mysterious, Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, literary critic, and editor. He is often regarded as being a central figure of the American Romantic movement. He is also said to be the pioneer of the genre of detective fiction.The Cask of Amontilladois one of Poe’s most noteworthy works, revolving around the subject of a person being buried alive, which was a quite popular style of fiction in the 19th century(Piepenbring, 2016). The major theme of this story is that of revenge, the desire for which is so powerful that it drives people to do the worst.
Montresor, the protagonist of the story, had decided to seek revenge against Fortunato as he had laughed at his family name. His quest for extracting a payment from his friend is centered around the latter’s obsession and expertise on wine. It is quite easy to understand the narrator’s hatred for him, and Poe’s writing further accentuates this intense loathing he harbors toward Fortunato. The conflict that arises here is that of Montresor intending to extract revenge from his friend as he had felt insulted. The pace of the story is just the suitable kind, as it does not rush to the ending and tell the reader how revenge was extracted. Instead, it builds up the momentum gradually as the narrators leads his friend further into the catacombs, preparing the readers for the ultimatum.
The major characters in this story are Montresor, the narrator and murderer, and Fortunato, the wine expert and victim. Montresor belongs to an old and honorable family and was quite assertive and proud about his ancestry.This is indicated by his wrath that he felt towards his friend for laughing at his family name.On the other hand, Fortunato was a man who was feared in society, and he was quite strong as well. The narrator was cunning and an expert at scheming – which is clear when he states that he intends to make Fortunato pay and suffer for making fun of him – while his friend had his own weakness. Fortunato was addicted to drinking wine and believed himself to be a wine connoisseur. It was this stereotypical weakness of alcoholismthat ultimately led to his death at the hands of Montresor.There is a break in the stereotype of the main character, as he has been essentially portrayed as the villain, whereas most protagonists are usually heroes.
The story is set in Italy during the festive season or the Carnevale(Owl Eyes, 2019), although no specific year has been mentioned in the story.The events take place in the spring season, and it is almost dark due to the approaching evening when the two major characters meet in the street. Montresor then ushers Fortunato into his family home, which is a stone palace, about a couple centuries old. It can be said that the subtle rivalry between Poe and Thomas Dunn, one of his contemporaries, was the backdrop of this story(Library of America, 2012). Dunn had allegedly insulted Poe in one of his works, which had greatly angered him, and this can be said to be reflected in Montresor’s attitude towards Fortunato. For this reason, the narrator was bent on proving that he was more of a drunkard than a wine expert.Although there is no direct portrayal of any cultural attribute within the story, it is clear that Montresor’s pride in his family name and his aristocratic ancestry had a role to play in dictating his actions.
The narration in this story is internal, as it was Montresor, the protagonist and the murderer, who was telling the story. This allowed the reader to be actively involved with each of the events that were taking place. An external narration would have been bland and less engaging. Internal narration is the one that is preferred. This is because it makes it easier for the readers to understand the complexity of the emotions of the protagonist, which cannot be described by an external narrator with the required amount of accuracy. Thus, it is easier to satisfy the curiosity of the readers through this form of narration.
There are multiple symbols and images in the story that are worth mentioning here. For instance, Fortunato himself is a symbol, as his name means “the fortunate one”(Kadhim, 2017). However, the irony lies in the fact that he was met with a fate that was rather unfortunate. Also, the setting of the story – the reference to the azure color – is symbolic of the clear blue sky that the victim would soon be locked away from. The piles of bones inside the catacombs symbolize death and demise. Poe beautifully shapes these images with the help of irony and symbolism to build the mood of the story and develop the plot that ends with the death of the self-proclaimed wine expert.
The main message that the story conveys is that the thirst for revenge can drive people to do the worst of things.The fact that Montresor was driven to take revenge on Fortunato in that manner, by burying him alive, is quite sinister. This was the outcome of him repeatedly insulting and making fun of Montresor’s family name. The story therefore draws on this theme very effectively. It depicts how man can be cruel in his quest for revenge in return for an insult. It is quite easy to come to this conclusion since the story is a reflection of the narrator’s act of burying his friend alive in the catacombs beneath his stone palace. There is little or no remorse that he felt due to his actions. Instead, he seemed to rather enjoy it. He could have perhaps confronted his friend and settled the matter by way of dialogue. However, his primal need for revenge led him to do the worst.
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