Poe’s Poisonous Pocketknives
To some of the most fanatic and most creative Poe fans the question may arise: could I reproduce the great Edgar’s works? And if the answer is yes, then how? We might assume that Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most recognizable authors and poets not only of his age but of the whole modern literature, but still we would face numerous difficulties in trying to imitate his writing. Also, placing him into a certain style or literary movement would give us some really tough hours. Poe can be considered either a Romantic or Gothic writer but we could find a number of arguments and counterarguments for this matter. Poe, in fact, reinterpreted the whole Gothic horror style and created a unique, distinct brew of Gothic fiction, Romanticism and his own gloomy mind. On the basis of A Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart, we can deduct that despite the uniqueness of Poe’s works there are some recurring elements in Poe’s short-stories. Generally, if anyone wanted to write a Poesque short story, here are the ingredients: a fine case of murder, a big spoonful of madness and a pinch of revenge.
Despite Edgar Allan Poe being one of the inventors of detective fiction, the Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart are not about detection but the process of the murder. The former one goes about an Italian named Montresor, who tells how he killed his ’friend’ Fortunato while he was illuminated. Montresor plans to commit the perfect murder ("I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.”), and seemingly succeeds in that, but scholars like Thomas Pribek, Walter Stepp, J. Gerald Kennedy, Charles May, G.R. Thompson and Scott Peeples argue that Montresor has failed to commit the perfect crime because he has suffered the pangs of remorse. (Baraban 47-48) The other short-story, The Tell-Tale Heart ends with invesigation of a premeditated, willful murder committed by the narrator. Whilst telling us how he has executed this felony, he ”protests his sanity rather than his innocence”. (Robinson 1):
„If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body.” (Poe)
A big spoonful of madness is the element that adds spice to the story or gives the narrator intention to commit the murder in the first place. In my opinion this is the main thing in which Poe totally differs from the traditional Gothic fiction. If I had to associate Poe’s taleswith some great Hollywood movies, I would certainly think of psychological thrillers like the Silence of the Lambs, The Shining or Psycho. In the case of traditional Gothic stories, the horror films Frankenstein, Night of the Living Dead or A Nightmare on Elm Street pop into my mind. Edgar Allan Poe was much more into the psychological aspects of murder and terror: it is not the setting or a scary monster, but the narrator’s loony and homicidal mind that gives us goosebumps. In A Cask of Amontillado, our narrator and...