What are 5-7 quotes in the "Cask of Amontillado" that show the elements of Romanticism?Please explain the quotes pertaining to Romanticism.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Romanticism is a movement in the fine arts which emphasizes strong emotion as an authentic source of experience" [enotes].  Thus, it stresses emotional wildness, the imagination, psychological experiences, strong senses, trepidation, and horror.  Embracing the exotic, distant in modes, Romanticism emphasizes the individual imagination as a critical authority.  The Dark Romantics explored the conflict between good and evil, the psychological effects of guilt and sin, and even madness and derangement in the human psyche.  And, they saw the blankness and the horror of evil. 

  • As a Dark Romantic, Edgar Allan Poe's narrator in "The Cask of Amontillado" is characterized by emotional madness and derangement.  In the opening of the story, he expresses this madness:

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had born as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.  You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season that I encountered my friend.

  • As Montesor explains his retribution, he evinces how his imagination has becomce his critical authority: 

At length I would be avenged;... the very definitiveness with which it was resolved, precluded the idea of risk.  I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.  A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser.  It is dqually unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

  • The gothic setting of the catacombs are certainly characteristic of Dark Romanticism:

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious.  it walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault over head, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris.  Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner.  From the fourth the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size.

  • In Poe's narrative, there are psychological experiences, trepidation, and horror:

A succession of loud and shrill screams bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back[pyschological feeling)....For a brief moment I hesitated--I trembled....(trepidation) I replied to the yells of him who clamored.... 

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close...I had completed the ...tenth tier...  But, now  there came from out the niche a low laugh erected the hairs upon my head....For the love of God Montressor....(trepidation)

Furthermore, Poe's narrator grows sick  in the horror of his actions:

"I thrust a torch through the remaining apertureand let it fall within.  There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells.  My heart grew sick---on account of the dampness of the catacombs....

 

 

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romantics privileged emotion over logic, believing that, since we do not need to be taught to feel intense emotion, it is more fundamental to human experience than learned things. Many Romantic writers, then, attempt to both convey and elicit such emotion, prompting their readers to feel strongly. Dark Romantic writers focus on "darker" emotions, like horror, terror, or guilt. Montresor, the narrator, certainly inspires some of these in us. For example, Montresor says, early on in the story, 

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.  

In other words, he's been plotting the death of his nemesis, Fortunato, all the while smiling in the man's face. It is terrible to think that someone we know could be smiling at us, acting as if everything were typical and yet that they could be planning a horrible, chilling death for us at the same time.  

Further, Dark Romantic and Gothic Literature also often takes death as their subject matter. Poe sets this story in one of the most deathly, Gothic locations ever: literally, a giant tomb full of dead bodies in various states of decomposition. When the men first enter the vaults, Montresor offers Fortunato some wine, and Fortunato says, "'I drink . . . to the buried that repose around us.'" This quotation isn't necessarily chilling, but it provides some commentary on the setting which is, itself, horror-inducing.  For most of us, the idea of being surrounded by the dead is highly uncomfortable at best.

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The Cask of Amontillado

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