Poe's Narrators in "Cask of Amontillado" and "Fall of the House of Usher"

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One of the most famous authors in American history is Edgar Allen Poe, thanks to his intricate and unsettling short stories and poems. One of the strongest aspects of Poe’s writing style is the allure and complexity of the narrator of the story. These narrators, ranging from innocent bystanders to psychotic murderers, add depth to such a short story and really allow Poe to explore the themes of death and murder which he seems to have an unhealthy obsession towards. Furthermore, he uses these narrators to give a different perspective in each of his many works and to really unsettle the reader by what is occurring throughout the story. The narrators, whether an innocent witness of death as in “The Fall of the House of Usher” or a twisted murderer as in “The Cask of Amontillado” are used by Poe to discuss the themes of death and murder within these stories and, depending on their point of view, give a different take on such a despicable act such as murder.

In order to fully understand Poe’s use of the narrator the two previously mentioned stories must be summarized. “The Cask of Amontillado” is a tale about the narrator, Montresor, who desires to act revenge on his acquaintance Fortunato. He lures Fortunato into his basement in order for Fortunato to examine a rare wine called an Amontillado. While in the deep crypt Montresor offers Fortunato more and more wine so that by the time Fortunato gets to the area where the cask is kept he is heavily intoxicated. Montresor then chains Fortunato to a stone and begins to build a wall, trapping Fortunato inside the crypt to die while Fortunato screams and pleads for his life. Montresor, hearing his pleas for mercy and life, ignores them and continues to build the wall knowing that no one will ever find the body of the unfortunate Fortunato.

“The Fall of the House of Usher” which revolves around a nameless narrator who goes to visit Roderick Usher, a boyhood friend who has been feeling very physically and emotionally ill...
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