How does your knowledge of Poe and real events influence the effect "The Cask of Amontillado" has on you?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Knowing more about Edgar Allen Poe and the circumstances in which he was writer can be very helpful in understanding why he wrote how he did.

The author’s background is helping in informing our understanding of the author’s work.  In “The Cask of Amontillado,” rumor has it that Poe read a newspaper article amount a skeleton found in a brick wall, and it caught his imagination.  He based the story on that event.  Poe was curious about what might have inspired him to write his famous story.

“I reapproached the wall; I replied to the yells of him who clamoured. I re-echoed, I aided, I surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still. ”

Another important thing to remember about Poe is that he was famous for sensationalism.  He wrote violent stories, and the public ate them up.  Poe continued to write about murder and revenge because it sold.  It was what people were interested in.  “The Cask of Amontillado” was written four years after the macabre tales of “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Pitt and the Pendulum,” and “A Tell-tale Heart.”  When you make your living as a writer, you write what sells. 

It was very hard to make a living as a writer in those days, because before copyrights authors did not have any control or ownership rights to their work after it was published.  Anyone could copy it and get away with it, leaving the writer without making a penny off of that publication.

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