Edgar Allan Poe

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The Cask of Amontillado & To F - - S S. O - - D
If the American character can be said to contain equal portions of cynicism and idealism, then two particular works of Edgar Allan Poe reveal this character. In The Cask of Amontillado we are treated to a �revenge� tale, one in which pessimism and cynicism are equally mixed as the narrator methodically, purposefully and completely exacts his revenge on the previous �thousand injuries of Fortunato [he] had borne as best [he] could� (191). In the poem To F - - S S. O - - D on the other hand, we get a love poem that is positively dripping in romantic cynicism. This analysis will compare and contrast both these works of Poe in order to reveal the American character within each.

In Cask we see Poe�s fascination with the ability of human beings to be so humane and at the same time to entertain and be capable of deeds of the worst inhumanity. For in this novel there is out and out murder and the victim is one who is hapless, prone to his vanity and unable to see through the malicious manipulations of the narrator, the supposed wronged one. However, we see something even more deep within the story. We see that the narrator is torn even at the time of the murder, fifty years previous, because his human soul is torn between his impulses for revenge and his knowledge that murder is an unpardonable sin. We even see him regret how damp it is in the wine vaults where he will bury his enemy. Like Macbeth and Clad

. . .
ndency for ethnocentrism which outrages many a foreigner. However, we do see a narrator who is cursed with the lack of freedom that evil deeds manifest in the mind. The narrator has become entombed in life, much like his victim, because he has not been able to come to a clean conscious over this act in the five decades since he has �legally� escaped the act without consequence. He cannot escape it in his mind. He searches for how to come to peace but knows he cannot, because, regardless of the validity of...
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