Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Tell-Tale Heart” have traits which they share in common, and traits which are unique to one another. Both short stories deal with similar topics, point of views, number of characters, passion, and flawless execution. However, the two short stories differ in their purpose for murdering, the narrator’s state of mind, the physical state of the victim, and the end result.
Edgar Allan Poe has always been famous for his short stories and poems which dealt with goth, gore, pain, death and murder. Both short stories had narrators who had similar objectives. They both wanted to murder someone. The people whom they wanted to murder were people close to them. Similarly, both these people have wronged the narrator in one way or another.
Both short stories made use of the first person point of view or perspective. All throughout both stories, every event that has happened, is happening and was about to happen were all explained by a single person. In both stories, it is the murderer who discusses what was happening and his objectives for committing the murder. Aside from this, it is also the murderer that discusses the things that the person to be murdered is saying, and doing.
In both stories there are only two characters. There is always the murderer and the victim. In “the Cask of Amontillado”, the first character is Montresor, the murderer, and the second character is Fortunato, who is the victim. Although, in this short story, there was a mention of “Lady Fortunato”, the wife of Fortunato, but was not actively participating in the story. In “Tell-Tale Heart”, the character descriptions were very clear but there is no mention of character names, there was simply a murderer and a victim, who was an old man.
Both short stories had murderers with insurmountable passion with regards to killing the victim. They clearly discuss the reason why and how much they wanted to murder the other. Aside from this, they discuss passionately how they were going to murder the person. Lastly both short stories are similar such that they planned the murder perfectly. They both ensured that no one will know that they are the perpetrator. Aside from this, both murderers ensured that the victim never knew that they were going to be betrayed by the other.
Although both stories were about murder, the purpose of the two murderers was entirely different. Montresor wanted to kill Fortunato because the latter insulted him. Aside from this, Fortunato stole Montresor’s love, the person whom the narrator refers to as Lady Fortunato. In the short story, “Tell-Tale Heart”, the murderer was mentally unstable, and desired to kill the old man, simply because he had this one eye, which was like that of a vulture’s, and the murderer felt strongly against it. The narrator stated the uneasy feeling that he/she had because of the old man’s watchful eye.
Unlike the narrator of “Tell-Tale Heart” Montresor was mentally stable, and his goals were somewhat justifiable, which was for revenge. The narrator of “Tell-Tale Heart” wanted to murder an old man, whom he/she has claimed to have been close with, simply because of the old man’s eye. And unlike the old man, who was decapitated and dismembered, Fortunato was still alive before he was buried. The old man was first dismembered before his corpse was hidden; Fortunato was still alive and simply drunk when he was sealed in a tomb by Montresor.
Lastly, the two stories differ in their ending. “The Cask of Amontillado” ended with Montresor succeeding in sealing Fortunato in a tomb, where nobody will ever suspect him. In this short story, the murderer was triumphant in achieving his goals perfectly. On the other hand, in the story “Tell-Tale Heart”, the murderer was successful in getting rid of the old man without any evidence. It was flawless, except for the fact that he confessed towards the end. The narrator, claiming to have been clinically sane, mentioned that he had excellent hearing, such that, he could still hear the old man’s heart, even after he has been dismembered, which drove him insane enough to confess to the murder.