Comparative Essay Essay Samples
Comparison of Imagery in The Cask of Amontillado and A Man is Hard to Find
The Cask of Amontillado is a grotesquely written short story by Edgar Allan Poe with a gothic and gruesome atmosphere (like all his other short stories.) It is a piece of work in which almost every element is symbolic and at the service of creating an all-covering imagery. Some people have classified this literary work as a “horror story” which shows us how successful this imagery has been in conveying its horrific influence into the readers and it can be said that the whole story is based on a very powerful imagery. But the most important part of this imagery is undoubtedly the underground catacomb wine-cellar. Its has a dark environment which is huge but at the same time feels like a prison. It is also a burial place for Montresor’s family - with skeletons here and there - which gives the visitors a shivering fear as they pass through it.
In another story - A Good Man is Hard to Find - by Flannery O’Conner we have the same technic to convey the feeling of terror. In the part that the family is in the forest, the forest is described as “tall, dark and deep” which works like an usher for the imminent death of the family. The name of a town through which the family passes in mentioned as Toomsboro, on the first glance this word sounds like “tomb” which reminds one of death and certifies this assumption that maybe the family is going to face bad happenings. The Misfit’s car is a hearse (a vehicle for transferring coffins) which is another tool to foreshadow the imminent doom of the family. Yet, in other scenes where the readers are supposed to feel like it is a nice day (after the accident happens) the sky has been described as “cloudless” and “sunless”. But the significant point is that a cloudless sunless sky does not necessarily mean a beautiful day; it can even be a description of night, which is dark and can be full of dangers. Also when the grandmother is dressed in her finest clothes, the reader realizes that she has used a lot of the color white: in her dress, her collar and her cuffs. On the first look it shows that the old woman thinks of herself as a pure innocent person; but is she? Thus the important point is that sometimes imageries can be ironic and it requires the reader to look really close to comprehend what the author is really trying to say.
The two stories have a lot in common in case of imagery. Both writers have used some key elements to convey the feeling of terror (like darkness) and have successfully created a gothic atmosphere. They have managed to do this by using both visual and sound imagery. The clothes of the grandmother (in O’Conner’s story) and Montesor (in Poe’s story) - who wears a dark cloak and a black mask - are significantly important to the intended imageries.
However, the ironic imagery that happens in A Good Man is Hard to Find does not happen in Cask of Amontillado. One of the other differences is that Poe - with his long-lasting background in gothic settings - has created a more gothic and spooky atmosphere and of course both of the stories include gloomy deaths and menace, Poe’s imagery has made the story sound more horrific. Another advantages of Poe’s representational process over O’Conner’s is his abundant use of symbols at the service of a more powerful imagery. Poe’s descriptions of the cask - in which he resembles it to the skull of a person - is also one of the most horrifying and influential parts of the story.
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). The Cloudless, Sunless Sky in A Good Man is Hard to Find. Retrieved February 12, 2015 from http://www.shmoop.com/good-man-hard-to-find/cloudless-sunless-sky-symbol.html
SparkNotes Editors. (2002). SparkNote on Poe’s Short Stories. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/poestories/
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