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Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe and DH Lawrence were both known for the genre of their stories – the latter being an expert in the gothic genre, and the former being a master of the eerie short story. Both writers, although, very different in style, have very uncanny similarities in the tone, characterization, and plot manifestation of their stories. For purposes of delving deeper into the stories of these two writers it would be best to first understand what tone, characterization, and plot manifestation mean.

Tone is defined as “the attitude that the story creates towards the subject matter”. (Bedford) In other words, it is the feeling that a reader gets when reading a particular piece of fiction, the feeling being due to the way the story is told and the atmosphere that the story creates. Characterization is the way that the author fleshes out his/her characters in the story.

(Bedford) It is a technique used by the author to create lifelike characters and to define the role of each of these characters in any kind of story. (Bedofrd) Plot manifestation is the way that an author unfolds the plot of the story. (Bedford) There are many techniques used to manifest the plot, and the most common would be foreshadowing, which is the technique where the author leaves a trail of very subtle clues all throughout the story, giving the reader a very discreet idea of how the story would end.

In the case of the two masters, Edgar Allan Poe and DH Lawrence, and in consideration of the two stories, ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ and ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’, both authors achieve a tone of chilling indifference in both of these stories. When both of these stories are read, the audience is given a sense of foreboding and an eerie feeling that something so serious, as in the case of the subject matter of ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ which is murder, and that of ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ which is greed and death, can actually sound so ‘matter-of-factly’.

How do both authors achieve this particular tone in both of their stories? In ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ Edgar Allan Poe achieves this particular tone of indifference, by first, considering the narrative – for his story, he used the first-person narrative which all the more involves the reader in the story by allowing the reader to have a glimpse into the mind of his main character, Montresor.

(Poe) This technique of allowing the audience a privileged view into the thoughts of the character creates an air of involvement for the reader, but at the same time, distances the reader from the character quite instantly when the reader finally realizes the macabre plans of Montresor, hence, the audience is given a glimpse of a crazy mind but is at a loss, and is unable to do anything about what the character will do later on in the story. This particular technique gives the entire story a tone of indifference.

Lawrence, on the other hand, used an omniscient, third-person narrative for his story, ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’. This means that the reader is given a no holds barred glimpse, not only into the mind of one of the characters, but even into the saliencies of the setting as in when Lawrence seemed to make the house talk, “”There must be more money! There must be more money! “” (Lawrence) This omniscient view that Lawrence allows the audience creates the same atmosphere of indifference that Poe also has in his story, ‘The Cask of Amontillado’.

Noticeably also, to create such a tone of indifference, Poe and Lawrence curiously use certain dialogues for their characters to show the cold hostility of these main characters, Montresor for Poe, and the unnamed Mother for Lawrence. In particular, this tone of indifference is noticeable in certain spoken lines from these main characters, for instance, in ‘The Cask of Amontillado’, Montresor says, “My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour.

I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up,” (Poe) here we can see that after the act of murdering Fortunato, Montresor feels remorse, but not for the murderous act itself, but for the atmospheric condition in the catacombs – Montresor’s concern for the ‘dampness in the catacombs’ (Poe) overrides the concern that he should have for the murder of Fortunato. In Lawrence story, the same indifference in tone is achieved with the lines, “”I never told you, mother, that if I can ride my horse, and get there, then I’m absolutely sure – oh, absolutely!

Mother, did I ever tell you? I am lucky! ” “No, you never did,” said his mother. ” (Lawrence), which is an exchange between the mother and the delirious child; here, a certain level of coldness could be detected in how the mother responds to her already sick child – “No, you never did” (Lawrence), very characteristic of a mother who has a very small degree of involvement with the child who ends up being dead. Finally, this particular tone of indifference is achieved in both stories with the use of symbolism.

Symbolism is known to conceal certain meanings in a story, however, it is also used to achieve a certain level of distance between the piece and the reader. The reader reads the story for what it is and does not consider the symbolism until later when a deeper reading of the story is done. In Poe’s story, the names of the characters are symbols in themselves; “Fortunato” (Poe) means someone who has good fortune, which turns out to be ironic later on because Fortunato is murdered by Montresor. In the Lawrence’ story, this particular symbolism is evident in the names of the horses.

Malabar (Lawrence) for instance, the name of the final horse mentioned by the delirious child, is actually a region in India which is located “between the mountains and the sea” (Thinkexist) So, here, Lawrence uses the race horse named Malabar to represent the mysticism in the story, as well as to indicate that the mind of the child has gone to irreparable madness. The symbolism in these two stories allows the author to create the indifferent tone by allowing a certain level of un-involvement for the audience, so that only certain aspects of the story are very obviously presented.

In term of characterization, both Poe and Lawrence also have a very distinct similarity in their techniques; because Poe uses the first person perspective in his story, the characterization of Montresor (Poe) comes from his own narration, and to make the characterization of Fortunato more believable, instead of the one-sided descriptions of Montresor, Poe uses the setting to characterize this ironic character. For the characterization of Montresor, Poe let’s his character narrate, “A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser.

It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong. ” Very easily, the reader would conclude from these lines that Montresor is a vengeful yet very subtle character; one who will avenge himself, but in a way that would be very schemy. Poe characterizes Fortunato in the setting described by Montresor, as in, “It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend.

” (Poe) Using the carnivalesque setting in this particular line immediately presents the circumstances surrounding the appearance of Fortunato, as ‘the carnival season’ (Poe) was often associated with fools; then there is the mention of ‘dusk’ (Poe) by Montresor, further implying that the character of Fortunato is one who is whimsical and unsure, as dusk is known to be the critical period between daytime and nighttime.

In the same manner, Lawrence uses this technique of characterization in his story, first in the characterization of the mother where Lawrence presents a deep glimpse into the internal workings of this character, hence, the lines, “There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust.

” (Lawrence) This initial description of the mother introduces the audience to the level of misery and desperation of the character, and it also offers a glimpse into the subject matter with the mention of the word, ‘luck’ (Lawrence) With regards to the technique of using the setting to characterize a character, Lawrence offers us the lines, “Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll’s house, a voice would start whispering: “There must be more money! There must be more money! ” And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment.

” (Lawrence) Here, we notice that Lawrence begins to characterize Paul, the child who later develops a talent for identifying the winning horse at races. Lawrence attributes a certain level of ruthlessness and greed to the children themselves, which turns out to be very uncanny, because it also brings the setting to life, as an added character in the story. Finally, more commonalities will be noticed in the way both of these master writers allow the plot to unfold, first, because of their use of foreshadowing. Both writers, very early in the story, offer a glimpse into what the story is all about.

Poe uses the line, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. ” (Poe) to imply that the story is about revenge, and very clearly indicates that this revenge is going to be on Fortunato, by the speaker of these lines, Montresor. In the same way, Lawrence presents the totality of the plot with the lines, “yet she had no luck” (Lawrence) and “They lived in a pleasant house, with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood.

” (Lawrence) These two lines very early in the story of Lawrence indicate that the story is about some kind of luck, as to what kind, no clue is yet offered, and that those who are the subject of this luck are ruthless, greedy, green-eyed monsters, hence, the line, “felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood. ” (Lawrence) Another commonality in the plot manifestation of these two authors is the wide use of foreshadowing in both of their stories. In Poe’s story, a reference as to how Fortunato will later be murdered is implied by the lines, “”My friend, no.

It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre. “”(Poe) This is now an initial clue that Fortunato was going to be ‘vaulted-in’ inside the catacombs, and yet there is not implication to this yet, and this turns out very late in the story. Another example of this foreshadowing in the story of Poe is in the names of the liquor intentionally mentioned in the length of the story.

When Montresor offers Fortunato a wine called ‘Vin de Grave’ (Poe), Poe already foreshadows the death of Fortunato, because this beverage’s name, when loosely translated means ‘wine of death’. (Poe) This similar foreshadowing is also present in the piece of Lawrence, for instance, in the lines, ““Well – I suppose,” she said slowly and bitterly, “it’s because your father has no luck. ” The boy was silent for some time. “Is luck money, mother? ” he asked, rather timidly. “No, Paul. Not quite. It’s what causes you to have money.

“” Lawrence reveals the obsession of Paul for money, an obsession that eats him up later in the story. Then, in a more obvious revelation of the psychological state of Paul, Lawrence writes, “When he had ridden to the end of his mad little journey, he climbed down and stood in front of his rocking-horse, staring fixedly into its lowered face. ” (Lawrence) The use of the word ‘mad’ in these lines foreshadows the madness that is caused by the boys obsession for luck and money. It is very interesting to note that these many commonalities occur in both of Poe’s and Lawrence’s stories.

While it is easy to suppose that the genre of their stories might have influenced the use of similar techniques, each writer has his own mastery of the craft. Both great authors open up new horizons to short story lovers and the avenues that they offer to the avid short story fan are diverse. Sometimes, these commonalities could come unnoticed, but an analytical perusal of any of their stories will inevitably reveal many similarities in their writing styles. It is not to say that these similarities serve to diminutize the work of these two authors because such would be pre-empting other short story writers who came after them.

These commonalities simply show the degree of mastery that both of these writers possessed in their pursuit to come up with the most wonderful examples of fiction in their particular genre. Works Cited Bedford. “Elements of Fiction. ” Virtuallit. com. 2001. 10 May 2009 <http://bcs. bedfordstmartins. com/Virtualit/fiction/elements. asp? e=2>. Lawrence, DH. “The Rocking Horse Winner. ” Dowse. com. 2001. 10 May 2009 <http://www. dowse. com/fiction/Lawrence. html>. Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask Of Amontillado. ” Poestories. com. 1846. 10 May 2009 <http://poestories. com/read/amontillado>.

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