Moisan 1 Meghan Moisan Professor Jacobs ENC 1102 17 April 2014 “The Cask of Amontillado”: A Journey Into Human

Nature Death, revenge, and dissatisfaction are very often a requirement of any story told by famed horror author, Edgar Allen Poe. “The Cask of Amontillado” certainly lives up to this standard. Follow the revenge of Montressor, a man who has been wronged by Fortunado, for reasons unknown. While attending a carnival, Montressor lures Fortunado away with the promise of Amontillado, a very rare, and expensive wine. Fortunado, taking the bait, is brought into the crypts under the city, where, while very inebriated, is tricked into a section of the crypt that has not been utilized. Once there, Montressor proceeds to wall Fortunado into the crypt, alive, ultimately killing him. (Poe, 164-170) There is commonality of elements between various time periods of literature. From the early works of the Greeks, to the mid-1800s, writers have been able to share in these elements to create works that engage basic human nature. So, in examining this story, a reader may wonder; how would “The Cask of Amontillado”, a tale of suspense, revenge, and murder, be relatable to men of earlier eras? Carl Jung, noted psycho analyst, claims that there are universal concepts, ideas, and habits, that all people enact upon. (Jones, 408-409) Poe’s literary work shares two key elements within his own literature that is traced back to the time of pantheons, gods, and journeys into hell. By examining the themes of a desire turning into revenge and its lack of

Moisan 2 fulfillment, as well as the journey into death, this study will show how Poe used elements of Greek literature that are relatable to all people and time periods. A desire turning into revenge is a basic theme used throughout the ages to explain how humans go to desperate measures to obtain their desires. In “The Cask of Amontillado”, Edgar Allen Poe uses this to focus Montressor’s rage. It is never stated in the tale why or what Fortunato has done to finally force Montressor’s hand down upon him. However, it can only be assumed to be gruesome enough to enact this type of desperate action. While searching through Greek mythology, one tale is equally as desperate, and uses revenge to obtain a missing person. This tale is that of Persephone and Demeter, a tale used to explain seasonal changes. Upon discovering her daughter’s disappearance, Demeter is in a state of desperation. As she wanders the world in search for Persephone, Demeter seeks revenge on the entire world, refusing the growth of crops, until her daughter is returned. The gods, seeing the people suffering at her hands, plea to Zeus to find a solution. Ultimately, a deal is struck, and Demeter is allotted the ability to be with her daughter for half of the year, while the other half Persephone must spend in the Underworld, as the wife and queen to Hades. (“Demeter”) Both tales, separated by many years, and cultures, share this theme of desire leading to desperate revenge. It is stated that, “Jungians and archetypal critics strive to compare and unite the ages and peoples of the world and to reveal fundamental truths.” (Jungian, 1917) Both tales contain this very truth, in Montressor’s desire to correct the unknown misdeed with Fortunato’s death, and Demeter’s search for her daughter. Demeter lost her daughter to Hades in the means of a kidnapping. As stated, “Demeter would not restore life to the earth unless Persephone was returned to her.” (“Demeter”) Her revenge was taken in the form of punishing human beings, knowing that it would draw the attention of the gods to her aid in finding her missing daughter,

Moisan 3 revealing that in desperation, anyone will exact revenge. Poe shares in exacting this thematic revenge, by taking the life of Fortunato at the hands of Montressor. While in lack with controlling his hatred, Montressor desperation to end Fortunato’s life takes full force in creating a disturbing act of revenge; walling up a human life as it is still breathing. While writing centuries later, Poe still created a relevant pattern introduced first by the Greeks. Another theme Poe complements with the Greeks is that revenge never fulfills the enactor. As Montressor is about to complete his task, Fortunado begins to laugh. Upon hearing this unexpected reaction, Montressor is struck in horror that this man has solely taken the morose joy of killing him out from underneath Montressor. (Poe, 170) His task complete, Montressor now feels unfulfilled because Fortunado literally obtained the last laugh. Likewise, Demeter, after the compromise is struck, is still distraught every year when her daughter must return to the Underworld. While she obtained her goal, receiving her daughter back, Demeter is not able to have her solely, and her true desire is left unfulfilled. While tragedy strikes the heart of “The Cask of Amontillado”, Poe showcases that his thought of revenge never fulfilling the enactor is widely shared by the ancient Greeks. Another concept Poe encompasses with ancient Greece is his use of death, or rather the journey to an underworld, for the sake of obsession. The journey to death is a fascinating tale, often riddled with many opportunities to evade death entirely, but ultimately failing. This holds true from Greek mythos to today’s literature. In the story of “Orpheus and Eurydice”, Orpheus, stricken with grief at the loss of his wife, journeys to the underworld to bring back his lovely Eurydice. Throughout his journey, Orpheus faces Hades, who agrees to let Eurydice return to the world of man, only if Orpheus leaves the Underworld. In leaving, Hades states that Eurydice will follow him to the surface, and that Orpheus may only look upon his bride once she is fully in the

Moisan 4 light of day, or she will return to the Underworld, never to be seen again. Orpheus ultimately grows impatient, and peers at his wife just before she reaches the light, and Eurydice is once more dragged back to the Underworld, leaving Orpheus alone. (“Orpheus”) Inside both tales, there are two major areas, the journey to death itself, and the one moment everything could have changed for the better. Poe begins this nod to Greek mythos by describing how, “We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs.” (Poe, 167) This emphasizes the dreaded depth of the catacombs, a common description used amongst cultures to signify the opening to an underworld used to house the dead. In Greek mythology, the Underworld is gloomy, despairing, dark, and covered in souls. (“Eurydice”) This use of the Underworld serves as foreshadowing to Eurydice’s tragedy. As well, Poe follows this same idea using the catacombs as a predictive device for the demise of Fortunado. Not just using foreshadowing, Poe also eludes to a common element used in Greek tragedy; there was always a way out. Throughout “The Cask of Amontillado”, Montressor consistently asks Fortunato to turn back as his coughing ailment grows worse with each step. (Poe, 166) Fortunato had plenty of opportunity to deter his obsession for the Amontillado, and live. This same element is found in Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus is warned by Hades to never look on Eurydice before it was time. Orpheus reminds himself of this warning countless times as he journeys back to the world of man. Instead of listening to the warnings even he stated himself, Orpheus’ obsession with being with his wife begins to cloud his judgment. He has one final moment, where he reminds himself again to not look behind him. (“Orpheus”) Unfortunately, just as Fortunato lost his life to obsession over wine, so too did Orpheus lose his love to his obsession of her life being returned.

Moisan 5 In the world of literature, Carl Jung’s theory of universal concepts are applicable to human nature as a whole. Greek stories, as the beginning of ancient literature, have held such ideas as revenge, and the journey to death, to be relatable to modern literature that is studied in classes today. Edgar Allen Poe, a writer born centuries later, continues this tradition, by linking universal ideas throughout literature, and thus, human nature.

Moisan 6 Works Consulted "Demeter." Myths and Legends of the World. 2001. MacMillian Reference, USA. Encyclopedia.com 5 April 2014 Jones, Raya A. “Jung's "Psychology with the Psyche" and the Behavioral Sciences.” Behavioral Sciences (2076-328X) Vol 3 (2013): 408-417. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 April 2014. Jungian and Myth Criticism. 2013. The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Spencer Richardson-Jones. 11th ed. New York: Norton. 2013. 1917. Print “Orpheus and Eurydice.” Greeka.com. Greeka.com. 2014. Web. 5 April 2014. Poe, Edgar Allen. The Cask of Amontillado. 1846. The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Spencer Richardson-Jones. 11th ed. New York: Norton. 2013. 164-170. Print “The Cask of Amontillado.” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Ira Mark Milne. Vol 7. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.