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Poe's Personal Life as Influence on "The Cask of Amontillado"?What is the effect of...

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zahraamousawe | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 3, 2008 at 8:48 AM via web

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Poe's Personal Life as Influence on "The Cask of Amontillado"?

What is the effect of Poe's miserable life on the traits of the characters in "The Cask of Amontillado?" There must be an influence.

There should be a strong effect of the writer's life on his literary works what kind of that effect can be found in "The Cask of Amontillado?"

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 3, 2008 at 11:23 AM (Answer #2)

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I'm sure that Poe's unfortunate life had some kind of affect on his outlook. His mother died when he was two, his foster father disliked him, he married his cousin when she was 13 only to have her die of tuberculosis when she was 19. Poe's brother and mother had also died of the same disease. Poe does include references to that disease in "Masque of the Red Death",The Case of M. Valdemar" and others. Poe, himself, also suffered from some kind of alcoholism. However, it's important to remember the time period in which Poe wrote. He was writing when American Romanticism was at its height and horror stories were very popular. Poe needed to support both his wife and mother-in-law. Poe studied the market for fiction and learned that these types of stories earned money, something Poe desperately needed. As all writers, I'm sure he incorporated parts of his own life which he felt would make his stories more popular, but he also knew that these were the kinds of stories people wanted to read. Poe's first love was poetry but poets made little money so these horror stories were a way to help support his family.

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renkins44 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 3, 2008 at 12:24 PM (Answer #3)

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Perhaps the most telling sign of how Poe's "miserable life" resonates in "The Cask of Amontillado" comes in the form of Montressor's lack of feeling for his victim, Fortunado. After burning Fortunado alive, Montressor notes how he does not feel good but then attributes the feeling to the damp catacombs. With all the religious symbolism and by how Fortunado is chained in the form of Christ on the cross, Montressor clearly has an understanding of what is right and wrong according to Christian standards. Nonetheless, he never tries to temper his desire for revenge or feel badly about a truly horrible murder. To Montressor, and perhaps likewise as to Poe, the gruesome nature murder and the amoral practice of deceit is simply a part of reality.

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted November 7, 2008 at 2:10 PM (Answer #4)

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I would imagine that Poe's personal story runs through everything he writes. I wonder if this story relates to some sort of feeling of being wronged, and is a revenge fantasy. We don't know enough about Poe's life to know if he had been wronged by someone and harbored some inner feelings of hatred for that person.

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zahraamousawe | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 8, 2008 at 7:40 AM (Answer #5)

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I do not know how I came up with this analysis... I think that the reason why Poe uses first person point of view in narrating his stories is that he can feel that dark side in peopl's minds due to his personal experiences so it is easier for him to tell it from that view. I think it can be proved when you start feeling frightened or horrified as you read. It is not easy to convey a feeling of horror to readers by words unless you have what makes you able to do that and in Poe's case it is his miserable life.This life made him fed up with pessimestic thoughts to the extent that he is able to come up with the worst and most atrocious ideas.... It is only a personal opinion #It might be an exgggeration#

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 15, 2008 at 6:46 PM (Answer #6)

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#5 is an interesting insight.  Can the artist ever be separated completely from the art?  Afterall, all vision reflected in the eyes is interpreted by the brains.

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aaaaaaaa | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted March 26, 2009 at 4:26 PM (Answer #7)

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I think poe had serious mental issues causing him to write oddly, like in "The Cask of Amontillado."

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 24, 2010 at 5:16 PM (Answer #8)

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I'm with blazedale on this one.  The best insights I've ever gotten on Poe's life and literary point of view come from a short poem he wrote called "Alone."  In it, he writes: 

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

He says he doesn't think like others do, nor does he see things in the positive.  He sees demons where others see storm clouds.  That about sums it up, I think.

Lori Steinbach

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:51 PM (Answer #10)

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Last year my students decided that Poe must have had direct experience as a murderer.  Even if he didn't, he certainly had dark thoughts and wrote some dark stories.  It is quite possible that he felt wronged, by someone in particular or society in general, and wanted revenge.

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