Compare and Contrast of “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat” Today I’ll be comparing the Narration of “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allen Poe. Edgar Allen Poe is the author of many great pieces of literature, using his narrators to explain situations that are going on in their life. The narrators of “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat” both lead characters love for man’s inhumanity to man and animals through horrific murders.
In “The Cask of Amontillado”, Montresor is the narrator.
He begins by describing very cryptically how he was wronged, “The thousands of injuries of Fortunato he has borne as he best could; but when he ventures upon insult, Montresor vows revenge” (Poe 528). As the story unfolds, Montresor’s idea of “perfect revenge” is characteristically precise and logical in detail as to how he commits his crime. He knew every step as it would unfold, down to how his mark would react to ‘ego stroking and insult’.
This leads me to think he knew his mark very in depth (Possible friends at one time? While at the carnival, Montresor told his mark that he’d bought some of the finest Amontillado wine, to use in his vengeful plan to murder Fortunato. Fortunato is wearing “a tight fitting parti-striped dress and head is surmounted by the conical cap and bells” (Poe 528). I feel by him wearing this outfit, it makes a great setup for the narrator because he is going to make a fool out of Fortunato. From what we’ve gathered so far we can see that Montresor is a very manipulative person. He challenges Fortunato’s connoisseurship and leads him to his family estate.
When they arrive at the Montresor estate, Montresor leads Fortunato down the stairs into the catacombs. Down here is where the Amontillado Fortunato is going to taste, and where the revenge of Montresor is going to take place. As he get closer and closer, the narrator opens up more and more to how he is going to kill his “friend”. Now froom where we are, you can see this will be a clear cut case of premeditated murder. Montresor acts like he cares about Fortunato which is still all part of his plan as they make there way deeper into the catacombs.
Montresor makes another manipulative move and says ‘we will go back; your health is precious’ (Poe 529). So to continue adding wood to the fire, Montresor gives Fortunato some liquor to keep him drunk. Further down in the catacombs, Fortunato explains that he is a Mason by showing off distinct signs. Montresor on the otherhand is a mason too, a brick mason. He carried a trowel “beneath the folds of his rolquelaire” (Poe 529). Montresor commits murder in a horrific way. By the time he gets to the bottom of the catacombs where the Amontillado is supposed to be, Fortunato is well intoxicated.
This is exactly what Montresor wants. Montresor already has hooks and chains in the wall where he is going to chain up his so called “friend” Fortunato. He says that “he has fettered him to the granite” (Poe 530). The reader may think that Montresor is going to leave Fortunato to die in the chains. Instead, Montresor moves some bones out of the way and begins to wall the intoxicated guy up. This is how cold-hearted Montresor is when it comes to killing Fortunato. As the wine of Fortunato wears off, Montresor keeps right on building. He never really thinks of how wrong this is.
He is just out to get revenge for the insults of Fortunato. He finally finishes the wall with Fortunato behind it, locked in chains hanging on his deathbed. Montresor is so determined to make this murder a complete success that he makes the wall look like the rest of the walls in the catacombs. “Against new masonry he re-erects the old rampart of bones” (Poe 531). This is necessary to keep the look of the catacombs original if he does not want to get caught. Montresor finishes off the murder and gets revenge for the insults of Fortunato. Now, does that seem logical to you?
I guess that’s what I’d do if someone insulted me… I think… In “The Black Cat”, the narrator is unknown. Like Montresor, the Narrator is a character who goes from normal, to balls-to-the-wall insanity. All this saneness is achieved through a series of household events. “In their consequences, these events terrifies, tortures, and destroys the Narrator” (Poe 522). The Narrator is married and has pets. “They have birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat” (Poe 522). The cat’s name is Pluto, however in contrast to Montresor’s friend, Pluto, the cat, is the Narrator’s friend.
In “The Black Cat” the Narrator is an alcoholic unlike in “The Cask of Amontillado” the enemy is the alcoholic. After several evenings of heavy intoxication, violence against his wife and the other pets, he finally turns on Pluto, his “friend”. In a slight comparison of the two stories, Fortunato and the cat become the ‘enemy’ over time. “He seizes the cat; when in his fright at the narrator’s violence, the cat inflicts a slight wound upon the narrator’s hand with his teeth” (Poe 523). This is where the narrator allows the alcohol do the thinking for him.
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a “pen-knife, opens it, grasps the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket” (Poe 523). Next he goes to sleep and wakes up drinking again. After the cat heals, he decides to hang Pluto. Why? Because screw cats I guess! “He slips a noose about Pluto’s neck and hangs it to the limb of a tree” (Poe 523). He did it because he, like Montresor, feels no pain in torturing his enemy. I’d like to say alcohol has something to do with it, but in reality he just was so guilty for torturing to poor animal that he couldn’t stand to look at it running away from him anymore.
The narrator is out one day, and finds a second cat that is similar to Pluto. Like Pluto, “it has been deprived of one of its eyes” (Poe 525). The wife of the narrator likes the cat. As the story grows, the Narrator eventually begins to hate the new cat just like he did Pluto. I’m pretty certain it’s because he’s freakin’ a psycho! That could just be my opinion though. Like “The Cask of Amontillado”, the brutality of the murder the narrator commits happens in the cellar of his house. He goes to the cellar one day and is almost knocked down by the cat while walking down the stairs.
This household event makes the Narrator upset. He grabs an ax and ‘aims a blow at the animal, which, of course, will prove instantly fatal if it descends as he wishes’ (Poe 526). His wife then steps in the way to try to stop him from hurting the feline. As she does this, he takes the ax and chops her in the head accidentally. She died instantly. The next part of the story isn’t really odd, however it is perplexing to me why he stops speaking about her as ‘his wife’ and starts using words like “The body, It, ECT…” The way the evidence of the murder is covered up seems relatively normal during this time period.
The Narrator attempts to hide the body in a wall in the cellar. He removes the brick and pins the body up in the wall. Seems familiar, doesn’t it? A lot like “The Cask of Amontillado”. Next he uses mortar and brick to wall up the body. He makes it look original. Unlike “The Cask of Amontillado”, in “The Black Cat” the police come looking for the missing wife. While the police were looking for the body, the Narrator taps on the wall where the body is hidden, showing off his craftsmanship, causing a loud “howl- a wailing shrieks, half of horror and half of riumph” from the missing cat (Poe 527). This gives the police the clue and immediately begins to tear down the wall to get to the body. The Narrator is therefore caught. The narrators of “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat” are alike but differ in many ways. They murder their enemies with no remorse whatsoever. When they kill someone, they attempt to hide them in walls by bricking them up. The difference is that in “The Cask of Amontillado”, Montresor watches Fortunato die slowly, a revenge killing.
In “The Black Cat”, the Narrator kills his wife instantly due to her stepping in the way of him trying to kill the cat. Sources Cited Poe, Edgar A. “The Black Cat” Bedford guide for college writers, 137-140, print. Poe, Edgar A. “The Cask of Amontillado” Bedford guide for college writers, 158-161, print. Ps: I am fully aware that the use of “…, I, I think, Etc…” and pretty much, everything I put in (Example) isn’t acceptable. I just wanted to add a little comedy to the paper. In other words don’t pay too much attention to that. -Griffin
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