“Araby” and “Cask of Amontillado”: a Comparison

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The stories “Araby,” by James Joyce, and “The Cask of Amontillado,” by Edgar Allan Poe share a common theme. In both tales, the plots revolve around one character manipulating the actions of another. I will discuss and compare the various elements of each story and their significance.

Both stories are set in different countries, with “Araby” being about a boy from Ireland and “The Cask of Amontillado” not specifying a particular country. In “Araby,” the physical location of the story is not of great importance, as it could take place in America. However, the setting of the bazaar holds significance. The bazaar represents an adventure, with its Middle Eastern items for sale, distinguishing it from a regular flea market. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” the country is not crucial, and the story could occur anywhere in the world. Instead, the cellar serves as a creepy setting, evoking the desired mood as employed by Poe.

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The themes of both stories differ in nature but share similarities. In “Araby,” the protagonist’s primary drive is desire as he becomes infatuated with his friend’s sister. He is willing to go to great lengths for her, prompted by her expression of longing for the bazaar. It can be inferred that the boy’s strong desire to go arose from her interaction with him. Conversely, in “The Cask…,” the protagonist takes on a manipulative role, fueled by a thirst for revenge. Exploiting Fortunato’s love for wine, the protagonist cleverly convinces him to descend into the cellar, playing on his enemy’s vulnerability.

In “Araby”, the only symbolism I could identify was related to the bazaar. The bazaar represented an element of adventure and stood as a symbol of something exotic and romantic. Apart from that, I didn’t find anything else in the story that held significant symbolism. On the other hand, in “The Cask…”, Poe employs the cellar as a symbol. He repeatedly uses words like vault, catacombs, and cavern, all of which I believe represent death. Catacombs are where people are laid to rest, already filled with death. The word vault, aside from being a storage room in a bank, can also signify a place associated with death – a tomb or burial chamber. Another symbol I found was Fortunato’s outfit. He was dressed in motley, a multicolored garment and wore a conical cap with bells, resembling the traditional attire of a court jester or fool from medieval times. I believe Poe uses this to convey the idea that Fortunato was deceived. Towards the end of the story, Fortunato starts laughing, thinking it all to be a joke.

The tones of both works differ. Joyce’s story focuses on love and possesses a sense of urgency as the boy eagerly waits for his uncle to return home with money, his mind consumed by thoughts of the girl. This narrative reveals events recollected from the past. Similarly, “The Cask…” employs a first-person narrative, but exudes a dark and ominous tone. From the beginning, it is evident that the protagonist seeks revenge. The story holds several ironies, such as the main character toasting to Fortunato’s long life, which can be interpreted as sarcasm or a genuine desire for him to suffer the impending fate. Additionally, the main character feigns concern for Fortunato’s health to manipulate him into pursuing the cask.

The last aspect I will discuss is the structure of each story. Both stories follow a linear structure. In “Araby,” there is a focus on providing background information and building the characters. We learn that the protagonist’s goal is to win the affection of his friend’s sister, although his specific objectives remain unclear. However, it is evident that he desires her. The story progresses when the sister engages in a conversation with him. At this point, he must overcome the promise he made to get her something if he goes to Araby. The story lacks a clear climax, but the main character ultimately fails to obtain an object to present to her.

On the other hand, in “The Cask of Amontillado,” little is revealed about the main character initially. We only know that Fortunato has wronged him in some manner and that he seeks revenge. Poe takes the time to develop and depict the character of Fortunato. Despite taking place within a short timeframe, Poe presents it as a journey or adventure. The story reaches its climax when Fortunato enters the innermost chamber and the main character chains him to the wall, sealing the entrance with masonry. This is where we discover that the main character’s ultimate goal is to entrap Fortunato and leave him to die in his cellar. Poe’s resolution is to portray that the main character successfully commits his crime, and Fortunato’s remains remain undisturbed for fifty years.

This analysis shows that although the stories are different, they share a common theme of manipulation. In “Araby,” it is uncertain if the girl intentionally manipulates the boy. Conversely, in “The Cask of Amontillado,” the main character seeks revenge and manipulates his enemy by targeting what he loves. Hopefully, this comparison has provided an enlightening analysis.

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“Araby” and “Cask of Amontillado”: a Comparison. (2016, Aug 28). Retrieved from


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