Literal questions: please add quote when answering each question 1.The narrator of "The Tell Tale Heart" admits that the old man "never wronged him." Why, then, does he set out to murder the old man? Applied question: please add quote when answering each question 2. How much time has passed since the narrator of "The Cask of Amontillado" led Fortunato into the catacombs( hint: we don't find out until the end of the story)? Interpretative question: please add quote when answering each question 3. "My heart grew sick," the narrator of "The Cask of Amontillado," says while completing his revenge against Fortunato;" on account of the dampness of the catacombs," he quickly recovers. Until this point, Montresor has shown no remorse for leading Fortunato to his death. In fact, he teases Fortunato, who, in his drunken state, doesn't realize that he has been shackled: "once more let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you." But, again, Montresor ends his narration with the blessing "May he rest in peace." What do these two lapses in the narrator's hard-heartedness suggest about his character? Does he know right from wrong? Applied question: please add quote when answering each question 4.Compare the narrators in the two Poe stories. What are their motives for murdering? Can we trust their reporting of events?

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  1. The narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” explains that the only reason he wanted to murder the old man, his landlord, is because of the man’s deformed eye. In fact, on the numerous occasions the narrator watches the old man sleep, he is incapable of killing him because he cannot see the offending eye. On the night he finally completes the killing, it is because a sliver of light shines upon the eye. The narrator admits the eye is what offends him when he says: “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees--very gradually--I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.”
  2. Montresor recounts the night he entombed Fortunato in the catacombs 50 years after the fact. This is demonstrated in the story when he says, “For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed” the remains he used to conceal Fortunato’s resting place. This suggests that Montresor has not told anyone the truth until now.
  3. The fact that Montresor experiences momentary grief as he finishes laying the masonry upon Fortunato’s tomb suggests that he certainly knows right from wrong. Despite this, Montresor must carry out his task for revenge against Fortunato. This shows that he willfully ignores what is right, but that a part of him still feels bad for doing bad things. Since 50 years have passed since Montresor sentenced Fortunato to death, it can reasonably be inferred that Montresor is now an old man. Perhaps in his age, Montresor feels guilty for what he did and wants to unburden himself by confessing, which explains why he utters the final “in pace resquiescat!”
  4. For the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” his motive for murder is based only on the “dull blue [eye] with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in [his] bones.” Thus, the narrator has a psychotic fixation on an object that he feels compelled to eliminate from existence. Montresor, on the other hand, has a personal vendetta against Fortunato, although he doesn’t specify what that is; he describes it as the “thousand injuries” that he endured before Fortunato “ventured upon insult.” It is the insult itself that motivates Montresor’s murder plot. Now, I think one can reasonably trust Montresor’s account of the events in the story. Montresor expresses self awareness and describes a thoroughly planned, premeditated murder of Fortunato. In addition, while his crime is sadistic, it is not nearly as violent as the one described in “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The nameless narrator of that story, in my opinion, cannot be trusted because of his clear insanity. He repeatedly remarks that he is not crazy, yet his manic thought process and bizarre fixation reveal his insanity. Furthermore, his murder of the landlord is the result of chance; afterward, he dismembers and conceals the body beneath the floor. This is nowhere near as planned out as Montresor’s murder plot. The fact that this narrator claims to have heard the beating of the old man’s heart is proof itself that the narrator can’t be trusted.

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