Essay on 'The Cask of Amontillado': Theme of Revenge

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After being served a decadent plate of smoked turkey, drizzled in gravy, with a side of creamy mashed potatoes, one turns its head to contribute to the family conversation. When turning back to grab another bite, the dog had already gained possession of the plate and began chowing down! The dog gobbles down all the food and without stopping, strolls off to find his next victim. Similarly to the dog's not empathetic response to stealing food, Dahl and Poe use character analysis to prove the shortage of emotional intelligence in the way the characters react. For instance, Mary Maloney responds to murdering her husband by simply accepting what she has done which shows that she does not feel sorry about what she has done. Likewise, Montresor is too caught up in the objects he is working with to think about how the person he is killing, Fortunado, feels. Some may argue that the authors simply imply the theme of revenge, as the characters murder these people because they are enraged by the things they have said or done. This is wrong because the authors focus specifically on the character's reactions to prove that they have low emotional intelligence, not to prove they want to get revenge. By using character analysis, Dahl and Poe demonstrate the lack of empathy of the characters in the way they react to the crimes they have committed; today a person's emotional intelligence can be determined from their reaction after a traumatic event.

As the characters are instantly acceptant and unresponsive after committing murder, a lack of emotional intelligence is displayed. Montresor describes himself finishing building a catacomb around Fortunato,¨My heart grew sick -- on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to make an end of my labor. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry, I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century, no mortal has disturbed them. ¨(Poe,9)Montresor seizes to describe anything except his catacombs. He reacts with no emotions towards the man he is killing, Fortunato. He treats the killing of his drunk enemy as labor and focuses on plastering the last brick in the wall instead of coming to terms with what he has done. Likewise, Mary is described after she murdered her husband,¨She came out slowly, feeling cold and surprised, and she stood for a while blinking at the body, still holding the ridiculous piece of meat tight with both hands. All right, she told herself. So I’ve killed him.¨(Dahl,5)Mary reacts by being surprised and then seconds later accepts leading the reader to question her emotional intelligence. Normally a person would be instantly torn apart with guilt and remorse after killing someone so dear to them, whereas she lacks any sense of this when she stares at the lamb leg used to kill her husband and is unresponsive. Although this point of view seems clear, some beg to differ.

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Mary and Montresor seize the opportunity to kill those who have wronged them, leading some to argue the author's implication of the theme of revenge, however, by reading the stories more thoroughly one realizes the more prevalent theme of lacking empathy. To specify, this is displayed in Lamb to the Slaughter while Mary talks herself through what she has done. ¨It was extraordinary, now, how clear her mind became all of a sudden. She began thinking very fast. As the wife of a detective, she knew quite well what the penalty would be. That was fine. It made no difference to her. It would be a relief.¨(Dahl,5) Dahl thoroughly describes Mary´s thoughts following her crime, thus her reaction is a major focal point. Although revenge plays a role in the character's decisions, the aftermath of the crimes had the messages the authors were truly displaying. Similar to Mary, the author uses Montresor's obsessing over the bricks after he had killed Fortunato as a message that he too lacks any feeling for the man he killed.

Similar to the character's reactions after their crimes, emotional intelligence is revealed as society reacts to traumatic events in everyday life. The character's reactions and lack of empathy may seem extreme, but lack of empathy is a common takeaway from today´s political culture. Recently, a terrible school shooting occured in Parkland, Florida that resulted in 17 tragedies. ¨The Huffington Post¨ reported the president's actions following visiting the students, ¨President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended a party at Mar-a-Lago on Friday just hours after visiting first responders and wounded survivors of Parkland, Florida.¨ The fact that a person would be able to attend a party after listening to all the student's and faculty's stories is sickening. The school attendees have been scarred for life and all he did was pay minimal respect to the dead and the mourners and then attended a party. Similar to Mary and Montresor being sidetracked after committing murder, Trump is too caught up in his selfish wants to focus on the lives of emotionally torn people let alone our country. Which makes me wonder, how can America learn from Mary and Montresor´s unempathetic reactions when the leaders of our country act the same way.

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