The Tell Tale Heart versus The Cask of Amontillado

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Edgar Allan Poe, author of “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado,” is well-known for creating some of the most terrifying tales in literature. Acting with the weather, livestock, and the natural world to produce the chilling tales is one of the things that make his works terrifying but fascinating at the same time. Poe’s two best-known thrillers are “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” The narrator in both stories is obsessed with terror, disfigurement, and the dark aspects of the world. The several features common in the stories by Poe are common identities of his literature works. The two stories have some features that are in common as well as differences. The similarities are attributed to the fact that both stories are works of one person. Examples of similar features in the two stories include setting the mood and the theme in addition to mixing characters in a manner that inevitably draws the readers into reading.

In both works, similarities manifest themselves in a number of ways. In “The Tell Tale Heart”, the story is described through a psycho narrator. The two stories are characterized by apparent psychological imbalances within the people that narrate the stories. In “The Tell Tale Heart”, the psychological imbalance outlines itself in incidences like when the narrator explains that there is no motive for the killing of the old man. The only reason the narrator tries to justify why he kills the old man is the old man’s eye that makes the narrator uncomfortable. The narrator repeats severally to explain that he is sane and the repetition of his explanation for sanity makes the reader to believe that he is not psychologically stable. In “The Cask of Amontillado”, the narrator is also seen to be psychologically unstable by the nature of the games he plays with the victim. In the story, the narrator known as Montressor tells the victim that they ought to proceed home because “…his health is precious” (Poe 67). The irony appears through the conversation between the two because the motive of the narrator is to murder the victim in the Catacombs as opposed to protecting him the way he claims through referring to the victim’s life as precious. Reading the two stories reveal that both narrators are proud of their murders because they brag about them across the stories. The similarity is not only limited in the nature of the narrators but also the setting in which the murders take place. In the two works, the locations of the victims are buried in dark areas with little chances of escaping.

In “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado” by Poe, the two stories are told by unknown narrators. The two stories are told in the first person and the reader does not understand the name of the narrator for some time. In both stories, the reader only discovers the name of the narrator at the end of the story. In “The Tell Tale Heart”, a narrator describes several occurrences without revealing his identity. The readers follow the story with hopes of discovering the identity of the narrator as soon as possible (Poe 33).

There are several dissimilarities that are observed in the two stories. In “The Tell Tale Heart”, the narrator explains that the reason of killing the old man is the man’s evil eye. The narrator says “…I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself from the eye forever” (Poe and McKowen 102). The reason for committing the murder in this story is seen as silly and the narrator is believed to be suffering from OCD as well as severe schizophrenia. In the second story, the narrator explains the reason for killing the victim is insult. Even if the killer is seen to be in good psychological state, the reason he gives for killing is not enough to justify his acts and he is believed to be under influence of alcohol because of his vast wine collection. “The Cask of Amontillado” that also involves murder, the story has a different plot from the other work. The narrator cites revenging a thousand injuries caused to him by the victim as a key reason to commit murder. The readers of both story find the revenge as a better reason for killing a person than using the nature of how someone looks as a reason to kill. In “The Tell Tale Heart”, the aspect of fear in the narrator is clearly evident because he fears that the police will hear how the heart of the old man is beating. On the contrary, the narrator in “The Cask of Amontillado” is free from fear because he is sure that no person will ever find out about the killing of the victim because it takes place in a secrete environment.

The aftermaths of the murders in the two stories present a point that reveals the contrasts within the two stories. In “The Tell Tale Heart”, the character does not get away with murder. When the police come to search for the body of the old man in the house, the hallucinations of the narrator makes him think that the police are hearing the beating of the heart and it makes to reveal where the body parts are kept. The narrator explains how his heart was beating so fast by saying “…A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine” (Poe and McKowen 73). After the revelations, the narrator is arrested by the police. However, the character in “The Cask of Amontillado” gets away with the murder because he hides the body of the victim and he does not reveal it to any soul.

Works Cited

Poe, Edgar A. Poe’s Short Stories, Edgar Allan Poe. 2014.

Poe, Edgar A, and Scott McKowen. The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Sterling Pub. Co, 2010.

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