Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”

When individuals think of Edgar Allan Poe, they perhaps reflect on dark murders and writing. Most of Poe’s writings are classic, for instance, “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Similar to most of his writings, he lived a dark life. Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1809 to parents who were performers. After Poe’s birth, his father abandoned them to carry on with his performing career, and a year later, his mother died (Baraban 50). Following his death, Poe sought to live with Frances Allen and John. Even though he was certainly not adopted, he had a family. While attending the University of Virginia, Poe’s colleagues perceived him as a gloomy and dark individual. Consequently, John removed him from the institution since Poe accrued a betting debt at a time when Allan was backing him. Following the incident, Poe enlisted in the army and became a trainee at West Point, but retired after a short duration (Hammond 4). Subsequently, he moved to New York and sought to have his works published. By 1835, Poe had secured employment at Southern Literary Messenger. Consequently, he married Virginia Clemm, his cousin. In 1837, Poe went to Philadelphia, a place where his drinking habits worsen, and from 1846 to 1847, his life became harder (Łaszkiewicz 6). Notably, the manuscript he was writing was unpublished, and his wife became ill and died. As a result, his drinking habits took over his lifestyle, and after a few years later, he fell ill sick and died (Baraban 51). The incidents that occurred in Poe’s life significantly influenced his writings, particularly “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

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Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” both use similar tones, though they take place in dissimilar settings. As mentioned in the two stories, death happens. In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a simple man tells the tale of what kills his rich benefactor. Poe’s life accurately reflects in this work. His weird obsession and social insecurities with death are nonetheless exiting. Poe might have been prejudiced by existent life conditions in making the protagonist in “The Tell-Tale Heart” appear insane. Hammond claims that partial insanity or moral is the conviction that somebody might have strange feelings and conducts, but is fairly standard intellectually without some outstanding insane features (5). The main character of this short story was not admitting to being the killer in court, but relatively trying to show his sanity. By contrast, the narrator is paranoid, nervous and even states that he does not have a sensible intention for murdering the aged man (Poetry Foundation). Being that Poe could have grounded this on the insanity discussion, he was depicting the character as partly senseless, and what happens in those individual’s minds and on what way they feel. Poe integrated features of his mind, for example, the usage of supernatural abilities and the opinions of death in “The Tell-Tale Heart” (Bazil 742). Consequently, Poe was applying the supernatural features to escape his reality. Partly, his life is reflected in “The Tell-Tale Heart” by his knowledge of the people’s mind as well as his incredible talent to inscribe from the perception of an insane person (Bazil 742). Poe was regularly plagued with anxious thoughts, morbid and depressive and was intelligent to convert that into an interesting horror writing and generate a believable intricate character.

Poe communicated not only his nervousness of his dread of the future and historical experience, but also his sorrow in his letters. He inscribed to Sarah Whitman in 1848 (Poetry Foundation). He was tranquil and calm, except for the “strange shadow of evil,” which seemed to have haunted him. The “Tell-Tale Heart” reflects how Poe applied his individual state of thought to be the devil’s activist on the other hand of the story, the culprit and not the casualty.

Similarly, the story “The Cask of Amontillado” starts with the narrator, Montresor who tells of his strategies to kill Fortunato. Montresor states that he must punish with impunity (Poe 20). Poe has an outstanding manner of compelling gothic tales of terror and mystery and combining them with distinctions of passionate stories through shifting emphasis from plot pattern and surface suspense to his symbolic composition in various meanings and language of words (Łaszkiewicz 6). Poe applies a tone, subtle style, subconscious inspiration of serious themes and characters to express the state of mind in his works. The different tactics show Poe utilizing his life through his writings.

Poe’s drinking character affected his life mainly in he lost his employments, he lost his vision of a magazine, and he also lost his health. Alcohol ruined his life forcing him to live without a stable world and a job. Poe did not have something to anchor him to truth; as a result, he made imaginations and drowned his worries in a bottle (Poetry Foundation). The story “The Cask of Amontillado” was written as a confession with the narrator appearing unrepentant. Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” gives a glimpse of thoughts and external relationships of revenge to at least two in particular. According to Bazil, Poe’s entire tales are biographical, and in a sense, the incidents and characters are the trappings and framework of his memory (742). Fortunato signified the physical display of the storyteller’s alcoholism which he lastly triumphed and suppressed. He applies this tone since Poe is relating his achievement over drunkenness and the destiny he could have undergone when he had not inhibited the desire to drink. The story makes the best sense while seen to reflect on the dominant narrator alcoholism (Baraban 49). Alcohol created fool of the teller of tales provided him many injuries lastly conveying an unforgivable insult (Łaszkiewicz 7). Poe wrote the short story “The Cask of Amontillado” to successfully display his understanding of the “disease,” as the narrator, Montresor, appears to be expressing the writing to demonstration his triumph on Fortuna.

Poe’s writing reflects what he supposed on the wicked of drinking. Liquor plays a pivotal role in “The Cask of Amontillado.” In the story, Fortunato was enticed by his adoration for alcohol to his death. Poe criticized drinking of alcohol since it was destructive and overpowering (Poetry Foundation). The characters in Poe’s writings reflected his incapability to adore the drug and his repute for liquor as a tool of destruction (Hammond 9). The most outlining factor in the path Poe selected for his poetry was the demise of a loved one. Poe faced death at a young age with his mother and probably his father dying before he turned three. An additional crucial loss was that of his wife and a cousin at a younger age. However, Baraban argued that the most distressing loss in his life was his temporary mother, Mrs. Allan (52). Poe’s hard life reflects in “The Cask of Amontillado.” His collection depicted meets of social loneliness, periods of irrationality and fear, and exciting bouts with alcoholism. Poe’s obsession with the theme of death is also expressed in the stories.

In summary, in both “Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” there are numerous concepts about Poe’s mental state and the reason for his life. However, he is still a captivating individual since his works and life are mysterious. Not only is he a better novelist, but he also integrates his morbid, dark, mysterious personality into his writings. Poe made characters with mental difficulties into his works to generate psychological detective story which creates his workings so exciting and unique. Poe’s difficult lifestyle reflects in the two short stories. His tone represented encounters of irrationality, a period of fear and social, and exciting bouts with intoxication. Poe’s obsession with the theme of death, specifically, the death of his loved ones was communicated in his works. Critically, his life was complicated, and it seems in the two stories that the happenings in his life had a significant influence on his works. Perhaps, when life had not been harsh to him, he might not have inscribed his standard tales in his publications.


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, vol. 58, no. 2, 2004, pp. 47-62.

Bazil, Carl W. “Seizures in the Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe.” Archives of Neurology, vol. 56, no. 6, 1999, pp. 740-743.

Hammond, J. R. “The Life of Edgar Allan Poe.” An Edgar Allan Poe Companion. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 1981, pp. 3-24.

Łaszkiewicz, Weronika. “Perversity in the Selected Works of Edgar Allan Poe.” All That Gothic, Peter Lang, 2014.

Poetry Foundation. Edgar Allan Poe. N.d., www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/Edgar-Allan-Poe. Accessed 10 Apr. 2017.