Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Poe, Browning, Hamby, and Hoagland

In both Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" and Browning's "My Last Duchess," both the narrators have committed murders and gotten away with them. In Poe's the narrator, Montresor, murders a friend who appears to have insulted him in numerous ways. In Browning's, Ferrara murders his first wife because of her flirty manor. In each instance, both murderers committed the crime out of pure selfishness because of bruised egos. The poems clearly show that neither was caught or feels a great sense of remorse. The stories demonstrate that murders are committed for one's own satisfaction, and thus leave the murderer feeling content.
Poe's story is a bit shocking because there is not a full explanation for why Fortunato had to die. Montresor simply says "the thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge" (Poe, 799). So, the reader knows Fortunato has made some insults, but we do not know how or of what. Montresor is fed up with his antics, and he justifies this as motive for murder. He leads his friend deep underground, where he is certain no one will be able to help. After listening to Fortunato's cries as he is buried alive, Montresor suggests that he feels guilty when he declares "my heart grew sick," only to clarify that it was "on account of the dampness of the catacombs" (Poe, 804). Even 50 years later, he still does not feel remorse.
In "My Last Duchess" the narrator speaks of his first wife, who has died. It is pretty obvious the Duke had a role in her death. He speaks of her with contempt, explaining she "had a heart--how shall I say?--too soon made glad" (Browning, 178) He did not like this characteristic, nor did he appreciate how "she liked whate'er she looked on, and her looks went everywhere" (Browning, 178). He is saying that she had a wandering eye and was not a good wife. The Duke has moved on from her death, for he is about to be remarried. He does not dwell on her death, as the reader can see that he quickly passes from her painting to the others in his collection.
The poems "Ode to American English" and "America," offer two contrasting views of the United States. One describes how the speaker is nostalgic for American culture, and the fact that she misses it as she is in France. She rambles through our pop culture and fads like Johnny Cash and Cheerios. The other poem "America" is full of criticism of America coming from a teenage boy and his teacher. Both find faults in America's culture, and both feel they are not really living because of their society.

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