“The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” both feature murder confessions. We have read about their justifications and defenses for their actions, as well as how successful they are in the murders (or not successful, as the case may be). What do you think is the fundamental difference between these two characters? Why is that difference significant?
Patrick Labriola’s article shows us that in the Romantic trope of the double, killing the double results in the destruction of the self. We see this in “William Wilson”, when William Wilson kills his double, and therefore, to some extent, destroys himself as well. The characters of “The Cask of Amontillado” are not explicitly doubles like in “William Wilson”, but they are still bound by the foot-stepping-on-the-venomous-serpent metaphor found in the Montresor coat of arms. Do you think that, by killing Fortunato, Montresor suffers a similar fate to William Wilson? Why or why not?
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” ends on the surprise note that an orangutan, not a human, was responsible for the murders. Shawn Rosenheim’s chapter delves into the question of ‘why an orangutan?’ citing the previous consideration by some 18th century thinkers that the orangutan was like a human, and that it was different because it couldn’t speak language. In Poe’s story, the orangutan imitates human behavior, and sounds almost human. To what extent do you find the orangutan responsible for the murders in “Rue Morgue”? How much blame would you place on the sailor who intended to sell it?