The world of literature has undergone a revolution, with new genres being developed over the years. While authors intend to pass on their message and perspective on specific life issues, their works serve as guides to future writers. Every writer’s work is based on certain experiences, either personal or narrated. Whichever the case, their point of view depends on how the message ought to be received and previous works that influenced their writing. It is, therefore, true to assert that no author can claim to be independent of others. There is always something one learns and integrates into their writing styles, although each remains authentic. Most upcoming authors credit their knowledge and styles of writing to the earlier creative works. This essay proves how early writers influence future authors focusing on the influences of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado.” Poe’s short story revolutionized literature in the 19th century and came to be known as the genesis of horror stories and gothic humor.
The Cask of Amontillado
Edgar Allan Poe is regarded as a great literary personality in the world because of his brilliant and profound short stories, poems, and critical views. These works provided an influential rationale for the short form in both poetry and fiction. Known as the father of the contemporary short tale, Poe was also a key figure in the “art for art’s sake” literary movement that swept Europe in the late 1800s. In contrast to past critics, Poe was more interested in the intricacies of style and construction that led to a work’s success or failure than moral or ideological generalities.
In his writings, he showed a mastery of language and technique, as well as creative and imaginative writing that was both inspiring and original. Late 19th-century French Symbolists were affected profoundly by Poe’s poems and short stories, which changed the course of modern literature. “The Cask of Amontillado” is a renowned piece that artistically combined humor and horror to express the themes of deception, foolishness, and death. This short story is centered on revenge, shown to be an inevitable fate that is delivered through cunning and hypocritical routes.
Ambrose Bierce’s works
While Ambrose Bierce’s short stories about the American Civil War and the supernatural have garnered him a cult following, they represent only a small portion of his overall output. Bierce had a unique literary style, particularly in his short works. Many of his stories begin abruptly and feature dark imagery and ambiguous connections to time as well as restricted explanations as well as situations that are impossible to happen. He portrays a calm, relaxed and funny perception of death, a characteristic common to all Poe’s writings. He used first-person narration to invoke the reader’s participation while appealing to their sense of connection and harmony with their surroundings. His works were not arbitrary but focused on personal experiences during the war and the evils he had seen in the world. However, none of his works contained direct criticism but were creatively composed to create humor while showing the horrific side of social evils discussed.
The influence of “The Cask of Amontillado” on Bierce’s work
Compared to Poe’s works, Bierce’s stories have a similar fascination to the stranger aspects of the demise of the human condition, such as descriptions of mental degeneration. They portray uncanny or supernatural appearances and the terror of living in a meaningless universe. Bierce’s most celebrated work, The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), is a glossary of Bierce’s wit and malice in addition to his tales of fear. For him, a ghost is simply a manifestation of one’s inner anxiety, as defined by his definition: “the outward and apparent proof of an inside fear.”(Bierce and Bufe 2). This compares closely to the catacombs of the Montresors in “The Cask of Amontillado.” Bierce’s style of incorporating comic relief in his horror story came from Poe’s work.
Bierce’s disdain for politics, religion, society, and typical human values was well-expressed in The Devil’s Dictionary. He developed the public persona of a revered and despised genius because of his ambivalence and his penchant for paradox and mysticism. In “The Devil’s Dictionary,” Bierce defined a body snatcher as “one who supplies the young physicians with that which the old physicians have supplied the undertaker.” (Bierce and Bufe 2) This can be connected to Poe’s use of the “Madoc” in “The Cask of Amontillado” (Poe 7). Bierce seems to have learned from Poe the art of using humor and horror to unveil human deceitfulness.
Bierce followed Poe’s style of writing using the first-person narration while humorously exposing men’s evils. One of Poe’s most notable contributions to literature is the analytical approach he took to his work as both a creator and a critic. The definition of a body snatcher in “The Devil’s Dictionary” was a critic of the medical professionals. Bierce used humor rather than direct confrontation, a trait evident in “The Cask of Amontillado,” wherein Poe used the term “Mason” to refer to present-day hypocritical killers (Poe 6). From this example, Poe’s short story seems to have influenced Bierce’s use of literary devices to indirectly criticize society’s elements and norms.
Many authors use titles that give the reader a picture of the theme of their wring. Poe was creative in using the title “The Cask of Amontillado,” which could be interpreted as a wine container or casket. The dilemma created by the title can be seen as a clever way of inviting the reader’s creative thinking and analytical skills. Bierce followed Poe’s example when writing “The Devil’s Dictionary. The title itself makes the reader think of words that entirely mean evil. However, the content reveals that Bierce was referring to societal issues and how they negatively impact humanity. His work benefited from Poe’s short story by allowing him to compare the use of foreshadowing, humor, horror, and dramatic irony in literature.
Bierce, like Poe, claimed to be primarily interested in the artistry of his writing, but critics say he was more concerned with portraying his pessimism and misanthropy. His tales of supernatural horror are sparse and frugal, contrasting Edgar Allan Poe’s rhetorically opulent ones. Bierce became a well-known California journalist during his lifetime who was committed to uncovering the truth as he saw it, no matter who he hurt in the process. He was dubbed “the wickedest guy in San Francisco” for his sarcastic humor and stinging observations about prominent figures and events of the day. In addition to Poe’s emphasis on literary formalism, his philosophical aspirations were closely tied to his viewpoint on aestheticism. Bierce followed this example whereby through the planned use of language, he could articulate a vision of reality and the essential condition of human existence, though imperfect.
Bierce, Ambrose, and Chaz Bufe. The Devil’s Dictionaries. See Sharp, 2004.
Poe, Edgar Allen. The Cask of Amontillado. Infomotions, Inc., 2000.