The Imagery In Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell-tale Heart And The Cask Of Amontilliado

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

When one seeks revenge, internally, they are destroying themselves. Two of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories show how one commits to take revenge. In one of Poe’s short stories, “The Tell-Tale Heart,’ Poe shows how an outside appearance may change a person’s minds onto taking revenge. Poe’s short stories examine the relationship between love and hate. In the “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Poe explains the physiological complexity between love and hate, and emphasizes how it eventually blends into each other. In another one of Poe’s story, “The Cask of Amontillado,” the story channels revenge and murder as a way to avoid legal penalties. Law is not visible on Montresor radar screen, and the continuing horror of the story is that there is punishment without any proof.

Poe chooses the words carefully in the “Tell-Tale Heart” to hint the readers of mental deterioration and paranoia. Poe cuts of excess details in order to heighten the murderer’s obsession with specific and unembellished organization: the old man’s eye, the heartbeat, and his own balance towards sanity. Similar to the narrator, even Poe himself, like the beating heart, is double-dealing in the plot to catch the narrator’s evil game. According to the study of paranoia, the story uses physiological contradictions to conclude a murderous profile. The narrator admits in the first line to be dreadfully scared, yet, he is unable to comprehend that he has gone mad. He expresses his self-defense against madness in terms of heightened sensory capacity. The narrator views his hypersensitivity as his proof towards sanity, not madness. The knowledge helps the narrator to tell the story in a precise manner and uses stylistic narration for his own sanity pleas. On the contrary, what makes the narrator mad is that he fails to comprehend the integration of narrative form and content. He lays out a precise form, but unintentionally lays out a tale of murder that betrays the madness he wants to deny.

The speaker sneaked into his roommate’s room and killed him.The speaker was proud of sneaking into the guy’s room and executing his plan successfully “because death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim”(Poe 1). The speaker had stalked the old man for days and nights, and when the right time came he attacked the man. The speaker heard his roommate’s heart”[he] knew what the old man [feels], and [pities] him, although [he] chuckled at heart(Poe 1). Irony is used here; the narrator is not able to distinguish love and hate as the main force that drives him to kill the old man. He is not able to distinguish the need and love that the narrator holds for the man, yet, he kills him because he sees the old man as a threat. The narrator fixates on the idea that the old man is looking at him with the evil eye and is transmitting a curse on him. At the same time, the narrator obsesses over the eye, he wants to separate the old man from the evil eye in order to spare the old man from his violent reaction to the eye. The narrator has an inability to distinguish the “eye” as the old man’s “I,” which is the identity of the man. The eye symbolizes the essence of human identity, which cannot be separated from the body. The eye cannot be killed without causing the man to die. This delusional separation enables the narrator to remain unaware of the paradox of claiming to have loved his victim.

The two emotions show that love and hate are inseparable, therefore, they are two of the most strong emotions in humans. The narrator expresses his love for the old man, but the pale blue eye triggers his hate for the old man too. Also, Poe explores a psychological mystery: sometimes people harm those who they need or love. Poe’s narrator loves the old man; he is not greedy for the man’s wealth, nor vindictive. Therefore, the narrator removes motives that may trigger such a violent murder. As the narrator reassures his sanity, he obsesses over the old man’s vulture eye. He wants to get rid of the “evil eye,” so that the narrator can clear himself up on any guilt, which ascribes to the eye itself. The narrator fails to regard the “eye” as the old man’s “I,” which can not be isolated as the narrator perversely imagines. It suggests that the narrator was not able to distinguish between his emotions, which lead to the death of the old man. The narrator loves himself, but when his feelings of self-hatred rise into him, he projects these feelings into an imaginary copy of himself, therefore, suggesting the nature of human persona. “It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night”(Poe 1). The idea of killing the old man was horrific, yet the narrator kept saying that he is not mad. Also, the idea haunted him day and night, suggesting that the old man’s eye triggered him to do so.

The murder of the old man represents the extent to which the narrator wants to seperate the old man’s identiy from his physical eye. As a result, the narrator sees the old man seperate from the eye, therefore, he is able to murder him while continuing to utter that he loves him. He is able to eliminate the man’s eye, but is unable to realize that this will end the man’s life. Furthermore, by dismembering the victim, the narrator dispossess the man’s humanity. The narrator strips the eye as separate to the whole, by ending the man into pieces. This process works against the narrator when he realizes that all the body parts of the old man is working against him.

The narrator’s sensitivity to sound is unable to distinguish between real and imaginary sounds. Due to his distorted sense, the narrator freaks out from the old man’s low heart beats, but has little concern towards

Montresor uses his personal experience of Fortunato’s insult to name himself judge, jury executioner in this tale, which makes him an unreliable narrator. Fifty years later, Montresor confesses his story, such significance between the events and the narration of the events make it even more undependable. “The Cask Of Amontillado” takes the subjective interpretation, towards the act that people interpret the same things differently-even to its horrific endpoint. The terror in “The Cask of Amontillado,” as in many of Poe’s tales, subsides in the lack of evidence that accompanies Montresor’s claims towards Fortunato’s “thousand injuries” and “insult.” The story features revenge and secret murder as a way to avoid using legal channels for retribution. Law is nowhere on Montresor’s—or Poe’s—radar screen, and the enduring horror of the story is the fact of punishment without proof. Montresor uses his subjective experience of Fortunato’s insult to name himself judge, jury, and executioner in this tale, which also makes him an unreliable narrator. Montresor confesses this story fifty years after its occurrence; such a significant passage of time between the events and the narration of the events makes the narrative all the more unreliable. Montresor’s unreliability overrides the rational consideration of evidence, such as particular occurrences of insult, that would necessarily precede any guilty sentence in a non-Poe world. The short story takes subjective interpretation—the fact that different people interpret the same things differently—to its horrific endpoint.

Poe’s use of bright imagery is vital to the questioning of Montresor’s motives. Mantereso’s face covered in black silk, doesn’t only represent blind justice, but rather its Gothic opposite: biased revenge. In contrast, Fortunato puts on the vibrant-colored costume on the court fool, who gets literally and tragically fooled by Montresor’s disguised motives. Here, the color schemes represent the irony of Fortunato’s death sentence. Fortunato, Italian for “the fortunate one,” faces the realization that even the carnival season can be brutally serious. Montresor chooses the setting of the carnival for its neglected of social order. While the carnival usually indicates joyful social interaction, Montresor distorts its bright abandon, turning the carnival on to black and white. The repeated allusions to the bones of Montresor’s family that line the vaults foreshadow the story’s descent into the underworld. The two men’s underground travels are a metaphor for their trip to hell. The carnival, in the land of the living, does not occur as Montresor wants it to, therefore, he takes the carnival below ground, to the empire of the dead and the satanic.

In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Fortunato addresses this plea—his last spoken words—to Montresor, the man who has entombed him alive. Critics have long argued about the meaning of this quotation. On the one hand, some argue that Fortunato at last breaks down and, realizing the deathly import of the situation, resorts to a prayer for earthly salvation. Fortunato, according to this interpretation, maintains the hope that Montresor is playing a complex practical joke. The italicized words signal the panic in Fortunato’s voice as he tries to redeem Montresor from the grip of evil. On the other hand, some critics assert that Fortunato accepts his earthly demise and instead mocks the capacity for prayer to influence life on Earth. In this interpretation, Fortunato recognizes his own misfortune and taunts Montresor with the mention of a God who has long ago deserted him. Just as the carnival represents the liberation from respectable social behavior in the streets above, the crypts below dramatize religious abandon and the violation of sacred humanity. Montresor’s response of “Yes, for the love of God!” mocks Fortunato in his moment of desperate vulnerability. However, Fortunato refuses to acknowledge this final insult. On the verge of death, he uses silence as his final weapon. He recognizes that his unknowing participation in the entombment has given Montresor more satisfaction than the murder itself. When Montresor twice calls out “Fortunato!” he hears only the jingle of Fortunato’s cap bells in response. The sense of panic shifts here from Fortunato to Montresor. Montresor’s heart grows sick as he realizes that Fortunato outwits him by refusing to play along anymore in this game of revenge. Montresor faces only the physical fact of the murder, and is stripped of the psychological satisfaction of having fooled Fortunato.

In the stories, “The Cask Of Amontillado” and “Tell-Tale Heart,” both of the narrators’ go on the adventure to seek revenge. Although both are successful, both stories take on a seperate road to attain the same feelings. Both narrators take pride towards the justice they have won, but little do they know that the revenge backfired onto them. After the sensation of revenge, the feeling backfires onto the perpetrator. Revenge plays within the mind, first getting revenge is the main goal, and then, regretting is the aftermath. I would not take revenge because I know that I would want to do it again and again and my feelings would be wasted for nothing. The sensation would last for a day or two, but then, my mind would be onto looking for other revenge. Therefore, it makes a person negative inside-out. When taking revenge comes into mind, a person should dilute their imagination into thinking on the bright side and should always remember the golden rule: “Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated.” Because what goes around comes around and karma will get you. It won’t take long that the perpetrator will be suffering the effects of his/her wrong actions. There was a time when I felt like having revenge on the teasing, taunts, and bullying that came from my classmates in 4th grade. A short, curly-haired girl would bully me and spread rumors about me. At that time I was young, immature, and helpless. Therefore, I could have made a simple, yet unaware mistake of taking revenge, but I did not. Although I was young, I was aware of “revenge.” Instead of going back and forth with revenge, I asked for help from my teachers and parents. The narrators in both stories had intricate plans. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” the narrator convinces Fortunato to come into his basement where he makes a brick wall to never let him escape. Fortunato did not know until he is chained to the wall that he is now trapped. On the other hand, In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator checked the old man every night and also had a fool-proof plan to dispose of the body. Both narrators in the stories believe they must kill someone to be freed from feeling a certain way.   

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