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A Tall-Tale Heart and the Cask of Amontillado

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Poe Test

After reading some of Poe's work, I felt that two of his best pieces were "A Tall-tale Heart" and "The Cask of Amontillado." They weren't exactly the same, but they had the same general idea. In both stories the main character goes a little bit insane and kills somebody. They do not murder the person the exact same way or for the same reason. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the main character suffocated the other man because his eye was driving him crazy; while in "The Cask of Amontillado," the main character chained the other man up in the vaults and left him to die, just because he had insulted the main character.

Throughout both stories the characters develop pretty much the same way. In the beginning, they both appear basically normal. But while the stories progress they both seem to become more and more insane. At the end of both stories is the peak of both characters insanity, and they are very insane. The peak of the insanity in "The Tell-Tale Heart" is on page 6 when the main character screams: "Villains! dissemble no more! I admit to the deed!--tear up the planks!--here, here!-- it is the beating of the his hideous heart!" This the part when the main character actually starts hearing the heartbeat of the man he already killed, which shows how incredibly insane he really is.

Both of these stories are written in the first person point of view. I think that reading the stories through the eyes of the insane person really helped to create a mood. Also in both stories, it seemed as though the insane characters didn't think they were insane. On page 1 of "The Tale-Tell Heart" the main character says: "But why will you call me mad? The disease had sharpened my senses--not destroyed--not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute." It was as if the main characters were so insane they couldn't even see it, and then accepted it almost like a gift.

Like I said before, the point of view really helped to create an atmosphere. But that wasn't all. The setting also added to the creepy mood. In "The Cask of Amontillado," the setting created most of the mood. It took place in the underground wine catacombs that are filled with skeletons. In "The Cask of Amontillado" it says: "We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descended again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame."(pg. 11) This part creeped me out because I would not want to be in some old scary, underground catacombs; especially when the person leading the way was very insane and had no problem with killing somebody.



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