Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Poe, Browning, Hamby, and Hoagland

In today’s readings Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado and Robert Browning’s poem My Last Duchess deal with undertones of revenge. In both pieces of literature, the narrator has committed an act of murder, for revengeful purposes. In Poe’s short story, the narrator is intent on revenge from the very first line. “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge”. This first line sets up the tone for the rest of the story, and therefore it does not surprise the reader when the narrator leads Fortunato to his death. The reader is never informed of what Fortunato specifically does to upset the narrator, which makes the story even more mysterious. This mysterious element along with the revenge aspect correlates directly to My Last Duchess, because the narrator in this poem is also not very open with his actions. He is looking at a painting of his late wife, and does mention that she was “too easily impressed; she liked whate’er”, and therefore was possibly unfaithful. This proves that when his wife strangely passes away, he probably murdered her in the mindset of vengeance.
Barbara Hamby’s Ode to American English and Tony Hoagland’s America, both have themes that discuss American culture. Hamby’s poem has a joking and lighthearted tone. When I first read the poem I got the impression that Hamby was poking fun at America but as I read more I realized that she was actually appreciating all of America’s little quirks, (even though no one says New Joisey in new Jersey). Hoagland’s poem on the other hand had a much different tone. Although both poems discuss American culture and society Hoagland responds to it in a very negative way. Hoagland describes America as somewhere you become trapped and obsessive about money and materialistic things. Even the last lines are very haunting. The last two stanzas suggests that those, who actually notice this disgusting culture, are not taking action but actually are standing by and ignoring the desperate situation.

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