The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe Critical Essay

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 255
  • Published : February 20, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
“Don’t Tread on Me”
Edgar Allan Poe was a man like no other; he lived a life of full of hardships, from his parents dying at a young age and his foster parents disowning him to marrying his cousin and never settling down in one place. Poe had a unique and tumultuous life full of ups and downs which relate to his characters and the themes of his stories. In The Cask of Amontillado poe uses irony, symbolism and the theme of revenge to draw in the reader and to leave and deep emotional reaction to the story that won’t soon be forgotten.

Edgar Allan Poe was born January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His Parents were both actors, his mother Elizabeth Arnold Poe and his father David Poe Jr. Both of his parents died when he was just two years old. His only brother died young and his sister became crazy. Poe was adopted by a Mr. Allan and his wife who viewed the young child as foolish and having no sense and later in life came to resent Poe.

Poe went to several different schools because of the family’s travels. From 1815 to 1820 he attended school in England. Then attended schools in Richmond Virginia and then at the University of Virginia. It was here in college that Poe became addicted to gambling and alcohol. With Poe’s debts becoming overwhelming he left college and enlisted in the United States army. Poe remained in the army for two years before his adopted father obtained his discharge papers and entered him at West Point Military Academy. Poe only lasted a year at West Point before being expelled for neglect of his responsibilities and duties. Returning to Richmond, Virginia, Poe met his future wife and quickly was engaged. With his fiancé he moved to Boston in 1827 and began to publish some of his poems. For the next several years he moved around the north east and published several of his works. By 1835 he became the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. It was at this time that Poe began to make his name and not because, at the same time, he married his cousin Virginia Clemm who was 13 years old.

Poe spent the rest of his life moving up and down the northeastern coast of the country working for different papers and journals. He published several short stories, Lectures, and poems such as the American Review, The Raven, and Eureka to name a few. His wife Virginia died in January 1847. Poe never remarried but court a few different women until his own death in October of 1849.

The critical response to The Cask of Amontillado is quite varied with one underlying theme that the story leaves an indelible impression upon them all. The reason that this story remains with the reader for so long is the final line of the story. Critics still argue after 150 years about the meaning of the final lines, “In pace requiescat” meaning rest in peace, also Montresor echoing Fortunato’s cry “for the love of God.” One side feels that the lines indicate feeling of guilt on Montresor’s side; others feel that the lines are pronounced with a tone sarcasm and arrogance towards Fortunato.

Events in history that influenced The Cask of Amontillado and Poe are vast because of the enormous change in the societal structure of the world. The Industrial Revolution drastically changed the world in a relatively short period of time. Major changes to agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, technology, and science drastically changed the way Individuals and country’s interacted, influencing changes economically, socially, and culturally.

Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was destined to expand west and settle the rest of the country. The belief was that it was their destiny given by God to move west across the country, to spread the virtues and institutions of American and to redeem themselves to the rest of the world as strong, determined, and virtuous.

Romanticism was in reaction the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment. Romanticism was a movement of intellect, literature, and...
tracking img