Rhetoric is commonly known as an occurrence in speeches and political writings, but it is actually so much more than that. Rhetoric can be seen anywhere and everywhere. Rhetoric has an enormous influence on everyday life. As I am writing this paper, this is a process of me using rhetoric to extort my ideas and opinions about rhetoric. Rhetoric can be found in legal discourse, stories, movies, and even music if you really want to find it. In a recent study, Torrey Shanks claims that rhetoric should be adopted in a more broad notion to include creative and effective speech and writing. I believe it should too.
This paper will be classified as a rhetorical narrative meant to entertain. A rhetorical narrative is known as a style of rhetoric that is told as if it is a story. According to The Living Handbook, “The study of narratives in rhetorical discourse takes as its object discourses that primarily serve argumentative functions in contrast to aesthetic or didactic functions.” A story meant to entertain means that this story is not written for any purpose rather than to pass time. I will be discussing and giving my interpretation on “The Cask of Amontadillo” by Edgar Allen Poe.
Any work of literacy, no matter how modern (e.g. movies, songs, legal system) that checks all the boxes to be known as rhetorical discourse should be known as rhetorical discourse. The narrative I choose to discuss is the short story “The Cask of Amontadillo” by Edgar Allen Poe. The reason I chose this short story is because a few semesters ago I took a literature class that dove deep into this short story and I really enjoyed it. It is not as old as the idea of rhetoric but it is also not considered a modern story. “The Cask of Amontadillo” was published in 1846 and it had a very gothic theme, Poe’s most frequent writing style. The short story was written in the first-person point of view and expresses the thoughts and feelings of the narrator.
“The Cask of Amontadillo” was a narrative story about revenge and this is clear at the very beginning of the text because the first sentence consists of “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.” but as you delve deeper into the story, one may see how sinister Montressor (who is also the narrator of the story) really is. Montressor claims he is going to plan his revenge because Fortunado (the antagonist if you view the story as the narrator in the first-person point of view) insults Montressor in some previous occasion. But what exactly did Fortunado say? The story states “It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my goodwill.” this can be interpreted as Fortunado questioning Montressor’s wine connoisseur skills as Montressor states “In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; –I was skillful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.”
He takes the character of Fortunado in an already weak state, drunk and at a carnival. Montressor then reveals he knows Fortunado’s weakness and uses it to lead him to his death at the catacombs in the quote “He had a weak point –this Fortunato –although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine.”. Fortunado willingly goes into the catacombs to try an exquisite wine and prove that he is an expert in wines.
The imagery in the story makes the reader become tired and maybe even claustrophobic as they move deeper into the catacomb. Edgar Allen Poe described the journey into the depths of the catacomb in this short story with the quote “I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together upon the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors.” This whole scene might make the reader feel itchy, disturbed or even visualize themselves in the story if they are really into it. Formating imagery in such a way is an incredible talent. Poe is able to put the reader in the situation with Montressor and Fortunado through the use of imagery.
Could there be a subtle second theme of terror? Does Edgar Allen Poe want to scare us? I personally don’t think it goes too deep but I do believe there is a moral to this story: do not be a greedy person. Although it may seem that Fortunado wanted to help his friend Montressor confirm it was real amontadillo (a type of wine) and Montressor wouldn’t get scammed, I believe he just wanted more to drink. Fortunado was already drunk before his interactions with Montressor as states in the story as “He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. ” I don’t believe Fortunado would’ve died by poisoning if he wasn’t already drunk. No one in their right state of mind would go deep into a catacomb to taste some wine and then take a swig from some cup you are given that turned out to be poison.
A second moral is to not be prideful, as it could be your undoing. Fortunado was drunk and incapacitated, but we can’t just assume he went into the catacombs because he is a drunk idiot. We can also assume his pride wanted to deny Montressor the idea that Montressor had quite possibly found the most exquisite, and rare to find wine. Or maybe even take the wine for himself to show off how he got a rare liquor. This is shown in the text as “How?’ said he. ‘Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!’ “I have my doubts,’ I replied; ‘and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.’ ‘Amontillado!’ ‘I have my doubts.’ ‘Amontillado!’ ‘And I must satisfy them.’ ‘Amontillado!’ ‘As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi.” and the repetition of the word “amontillado” emphasizes how rare this wine is.
In conclusion, “Cask of Amontadillo” by Edgar Allen Poe is a classic short story that many scholars are made to read. It is very intricate and the language, although not modern, is easy to understand. He captivates an evil and twisted theme that fits with his usual dark and gothic style. Some readers might even feel uncomfortable if they are easily disturbed. Edgar Allen Poe and his poetry and stories certainly aren’t for everyone. I do enjoy reading his work and find it quite fun to decipher his stories and find a deeper meaning to things.