In all four works assigned, it is obvious that there is an overwhelming sense of obsessing over certain things in each of their lives. In Robert Browning’s, “My Last Duchess” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” we see two males focusing primarily on their murders of people close to them with no remorse, almost to the point where it takes over their thoughts. In Barbara Hamby’s “Ode to American English” and Tony Hoagland’s “America” we see two speakers discussing their outlook America. Throughout these stories we see the effect that the characters’ surroundings and actions have on their everyday thoughts.
In “The Cask of Amontillado” we see Montresor, who seems like a somewhat normal person, obsessing over the fact that Fortunato has “mouthed off” to him and insulted him. Montresor almost goes crazy with his thoughts and winds up killing Fortunato for really no reason. Not only does he kill him, he has absolutely no remorse, which carries over into the poem “The Duchess.” Although he is getting married to someone else, he still cannot get the thought of his dead wife out of his mind. He continuously talks about her and although he never blatantly admits that he had anything to do with her death, it is obvious he disliked her and does not mind her being dead. He, along with Montresor, has no remorse for his actions. We see these two characters’ thoughts become flooded and although they don’t admit guilt, it is evident in their overly obsessive thoughts.
In both poems about America still, this underlying theme of uncontrollable thoughts arises. Hoagland’s poem shows how overwhelmed he is with his surroundings, “Buried alive, captured and suffocated in the folds of the thick satin quilt of America.” He describes America with such piercing disturbed adjectives and as a patriot it is hard to imagine someone hating our country so much. In “Ode to American English” the attitude is the complete opposite. It displays how much the narrator misses her country and yet again, it consumes her thoughts as she sits in Paris.
All four works show how some simple things can take over and immerse one’s daily thoughts. It is important to lighten up and not let everything in life weigh on the mind. If you let things consume your thoughts, you’ll never get anything else done or completed as seen throughout these readings.