What similarities exist between ''The Black Cat'' and "The Cask of Amontillado"?  

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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Black Cat" and "The Cask of Amontillado" are two Gothic short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. They have a surprising number of similarities, including the following: 1. both are narrated in the first person by a character in the story; 2. both are revenge stories; 3. both involve protagonists who commit horrific crimes, namely murder; 4. both stories include burials in the form of walling up an enemy; 5. both stories are Gothic or horror stories and feature an ominous tone.

1. The unnamed narrator of "The Black Cat" and Montresor in "The Cask of Amontillado" both speak in the first person and relay their experiences in the stories. The narrator of "The Black Cat" is an alcoholic and has probably devolved into madness. Montresor is a bit more stable, but he is obsessed with taking his revenge on Fortunato. Both narrators' states of mind are controlled by the subjects of their stories.

2. Both narrators try to get revenge on another. In "The Black Cat," the narrator kills the black cat and later his wife, who he is also kind of getting revenge on because of her relationship with the second cat. His motives are probably less clear in his own mind than those of Montresor, though, who tells us from the start of the story that he is looking to get back at Fortunato.

3. Both narrators commit murder in the stories. The protagonist of "The Black Cat" kills a cat and his wife. Montresor kills Fortunato (or leaves him to die, at least).

4. Both narrators wall up an antagonist in order to kill them. In "The Black Cat," it is the cat that the narrator accidentally walls up with his wife's body that eventually gives him away as a murderer. Montresor walls Fortunato up in a wine cellar after luring him to taste a fine wine. 

5. As you can see from the above similarities, both stories have dark subject matters. Poe is the master of creating ominous moods, and these two examples are no different. We know from the start of "The Cask of Amontillado" that Montresor wants to get revenge. The mood is enhanced by the two characters' journey through the underground graves of Montresor's family before he leaves Fortunato to die. "The Black Cat" has an ominous mood partly because of the subject matter of black cats and the superstitions around them. The narrator's madness also adds to tense mood. 

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like many Poe stories, "The Black Cat" and "The Cask of Amontillado" share many commonalities.  Below are just a few.

1.  Both possess unreliable narrators, a common Poe element.  "The Black Cat's" narrator admits that he is under the influence of alcohol and possibly even insanity.  He once loved animals but then begins to torture them for no apparent reason. Similarly, "The Cask of Amontillado" features a narrator, Montresor, who seeks revenge upon Fortunato who does not even seem to know that he has done anything wrong. Montresor is sane enough to plot out an intricate murder; yet he does not even specifically mention Fortunato's "sin" or explain to Fortunato before his death why he is being killed.

2. Both stories involve live burials in which creatures/humans are bricked up behind a wall.  In "Cat," the narrator tries to hide his wife's body behind a brick wall that he creates after accidentally killing her, but he also ends up trapping the cat behind the wall. In "Cask," Montresor knowingly "buries" Fortunato behind a brick wall while he is still alive.

3. Both stories to involve murder. While the narrator in "Cat" does not set out to kill his wife, he certainly shows no regret after he buries an axe in her brain, and Montresor plot his murder of Fortunato for weeks.

4.  Both stories involve somewhat of an obsession with alcohol.  The narrator of "Cat" states that his disease is alcohol and that that is what causes him to abuse animals in the first place. Likewise, besides the title of "Cask,"  obsession with unique wines leads him to let down his guard with Montresor who uses Fortunato's wine interest to kill him.

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The Black Cat

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