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Edgar Allan Poe’s and James Hurst’s Stories Analysis



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    In “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Scarlet Ibis” dark symbols and tones shape the plot, which allows man’s inhumanity to man, as a theme, to be expected. Both authors use imagery to allow readers to paint a picture of each setting in their mind. Also, each author adds in many symbols to make a concrete object into an abstract idea. In “The Cask of Amontillado” written by Edgar Allan Poe and “The Scarlet Ibis” written by James Hurst symbols, imagery, and the theme of man’s inhumanity to man are used to uniquely explain each story line.

    As the plot of “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Scarlet Ibis” unravel, both authors introduce symbols. In “The Cask if Amontillado”, Poe gives a new layer to the name Fortunato. It means fortunate, which is far from the description of his fate. Poe writes, “The thousands of injuries I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. ” (Poe 5). Here Poe clearly states Montresor’s intentions, and those were less than fortunate for Fortunato. Poe also uses midnight to represent the end, or in this case death.

    As Montresor concludes his daunting mission midnight begins to progress towards him. “It was now midnight and [Montresor] task was drawing to a close. ” (Poe 10). In “The Scarlet Ibis”, Hurst uses the go-cart Daddy built for Doodle to symbolize two different meanings. In the beginning, the go-cart symbolized Doodle’s limitations and disability. For example Hurst writes, “…Daddy had built him a go-cart and I had to pull him around. ” (Hurst 556). This shows how the go-cart limited Doodle early on in the novel, but as Doodle begins to walk and overcomes more setbacks the go-cart begins symbolizing his accomplishments.

    As displayed in the quote, “…Doodle had learned to walk well and his go-cart was put up in the barn loft…” (Hurst 559) the reader can gather that Doodle is now moving on to bigger and better things. Both authors use symbolism to their advantage, allowing readers to immerse themselves into the plot. Imagery, just like symbolism, is used greatly in both “The Scarlet Ibis” and “The Cask of Amontillado”. Using imagery allows each reader to experience the surroundings, almost as if they were standing there. Most of “The Cask of Amontillado” has an eerie tone.

    As if something just wasn’t right. “…was a low moaning cry from the depth of recess. ” (Poe 10) describes the spine-chilling nature of the catacombs. When Montresor finishes the wall in between Fortunato and himself, the tone only becomes more twisted and sinister. “Against the masonry I reerected the old rampart of bones. ” (Poe 11) shows the deathly feeling of the catacombs. No life was to ever come survive there. In “The Scarlet Ibis” a tone of death and struggle seems to surround the entire plot also. “…[Doodle] began to try to move himself, straining terribly. ” (Hurst 555).

    In that scene, the reader sees Doodle making a great effort to do simple tasks. Throughout his life, Doodle made a great effort, which later killed him. “Its long, graceful neck jerked twice into a S, the straightened out, and the bird was still. ” (Hurst 562) When the Scarlet Ibis flew into the tree outside Doodle and Brother’s home and died, the plot took on a mournful tone, which led on to the day Doodle died. The imagery in both stories is very dark sometimes. Both Poe and Hurst use words to describe death in some places and the cruelty a human can place on another.

    Man’s inhumanity to man is displayed literally in both “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Scarlet Ibis”. As Doodle grows older Brother finds himself being cruel to him. When Doodle becomes weak one afternoon during a thunderstorm, Brother being selfish decides to run as fast and as far as he could away from him. “The knowledge that Doodle’s and my plans had come to naught was bitter, and that strength of cruelty within me awakened. ” (Hurst 563) In this part of the short story, the reader can tell that Brother had taken on a cruel personality, which he would later learn to regret. One day I took [Doodle] up to the barn loft and showed him his casket, telling him how we believed he would die. ” (Hurst 557). Brother admits he was cruel to Doodle and now proves it when he forces Doodle to touch his own casket, threatening to leave him in the loft if he did not. Though Brother was cruel to Doodle, nothing he did could compare to the brutality Montresor inflicted on Fortunato.

    The anger and jealousy Montresor shared with Fortunato causes him to act in such a way unacceptable by the general public. “A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. ” (Poe 9). This scene shows how naware Fortunato was and how Montresor took advantage of his drunken state. As the night grows on, Montresor starts to taunt him. “’Pass your hand,’ I said, ‘over the wall; you cannot help feeling the niter,’” (Poe 9) Fortunato has still not caught on to Montresor’s plan, and that Montresor is hinting at it. The niter pulls at Fortunato’s lungs causing him to wheeze and gag. The vindictiveness Montresor shares with Fortunato does not compare to the petty sibling harshness shared between Brother and Doodle. Montressor is much more heartless and twisted than Brother could ever imagine to be.

    In both short stories, the two authors combine symbolism, imagery, and the theme Man’s Inhumanity to Man to create an interesting plot. Though Hurst and Poe each have a unique was of incorporating each element creating their own style of writing, Poe is more effective in using symbolism, imagery, and the theme of man’s inhumanity to man. In “The Cask of Amontillado”, the words Poe used to describe the catacombs put chills down the reader’s back. His overall use of the three literary devices mentioned above allow for a very well written story.

    Edgar Allan Poe’s and James Hurst’s Stories Analysis. (2017, Apr 10). Retrieved from

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