Untitled Essay Research Paper Words 2469

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Untitled Essay, Research Paper Words = 2469 Thesis: The Cask of Amontillado is about revenge. I. Introduction II. Psychoanalytical Criticism A. Poe s Revenge 1. Father 2. Mother III. New Criticism A. Irony of Revenge 1. Controlled 2. Structured IV. New Historicism A. History s view of Revenge 1. Poe s Time 2. Critic s Time V. Comparison of New Criticism and New Historicism A. Text s view similar to Poe s B. Text s view contrasts with Critic s VI. Reader Response A. Response to Justification B. Response to Success C. Response to Confession VII. Conclusion Nemo me impune lacessit (Poe 21), Latin meaning no one assails me with impunity. In this one line Poe characterizes The Cask of Amontillado. It is a story of the perfect revenge and why it is unattainable. The main character,

Montresor, executes a plan, which he hopes will punish [Fortunato, the wrongdoer,] with impunity (18). The short story discloses that the act of revenge is not successful if retribution overtakes its redresser and if the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong (18). This story revolves around those requirements. The idea of revenge has played a major role in history and even today influences our culture. Through Psychoanalytic Criticism the ramifications of revenge will be explored, through New Criticism the story s viewpoint on revenge will be revealed, through New Historicism history s view of revenge will be discussed with a comparison to that of the text, and through Reader Response the critic s reactions to the story will be expounded. The

storyline for The Cask of Amontillado is presented as a memory. Montresor is recalling a dark secret, which has been hidden for half a century, and is confessing his crime to an unknown, silent listener. The crime is the taking of a man s life in an act of revenge. The vividness of the storyline shows the importance of the memory to Montresor, for even after fifty years he still recalls such minor details as Fortunato s eyes being two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication. This memory embodies Montresor s desires, which looking from a Freudian perspective could be the removal of the father and the taking of the mother. Fortunato could be seen as Poe s father, John Allan. Poe describes Fortunato as a rich, respected, admired, beloved (20). Through the biographies on

Poe and from Silverman, it is learned that John Allan is a Scotsman who is very wealthy and respected by many. He was a member of the Masons and had a particular fondness for wine (316-317). These facts about John Allan mesh with the character of Fortunato very well. It is also interesting to note that the Montresor s creed Nemo me impune lacessit is Scotland s national motto and probably would remind Poe of his father. The idea of Poe seeking revenge on his father figure can be understood from his biography. Poe and John Allan never got along well and usually were arguing. When Poe had amassed a large debt, Allan refused to pay it off for him and their squabbles over money lasted through John s death (Fagin 31-32, 183, 195, 227-28). John Allan left a fortune close to a million

dollars and Poe was not even mentioned in his will (Carlson, 7-8). This in itself could inspire the revenge, but the whole idea can take on new meaning when the setting is considered. The setting for the majority of the storyline is in the catacombs under the house of the Montresor family. The catacombs are a very dark long tunnel and can be seen as a symbol of the womb from a Freudian perspective. By entering the catacombs with his father figure and slaying him there, Marie Bonaparte believes that Poe is fighting for his mother figure s affection and destroying his rival for that affection (224-25). During Poe s life he lost his real mother at an early age and then lost his foster mother eleven years later. It is easy to see how in Poe s mind that a link between death and the