Well, today is my first day of school–my last year of my Master’s program at Fresno State! I’ve had a great time reading and blogging this summer, but I know that I won’t have as much time during the school year.
Thus, I thought I should focus on shorter masterpieces, so the busy-bees could still get their reading in. I chose my two favorite short stories of Poe: “Hop-Frog” and “The Cask of Amontillado.”
Rating for both: 4 out of 5 (simply docked for scariness!)
“Hop-Frog:” This story is about a court jester cruelly named Hop-Frog because of a physical disability which makes him unable to stand upright. In revenge of the king’s maltreatment, Hop-Frog plans an elaborate murder of the king and his men. This story is semi-autobiographical, given that both Poe and Hop-Frog could not handle much liquor and hated when people would force them to drink. I won’t give away the ending, but rumor has it that it was based on the Bal des Ardents at Charles VI’s court in 1393.
“The Cask of Amontillado:” Also a revenge story, it tells of Montresor who plans to murder nobleman Fortunato after an unspecified insult. He waits until Fortunato is drunk after Carnival, leading him into the catacombs of Montresor’s wine cellar. The victim believes they’re going to grab a rare bottle of Amontillado, but Montresor has other ideas in mind. Again, I won’t give it away, but Poe was inspired by a legend he heard during his military experiences.
Poe is an intriguing person, from his marriage to his much-younger cousin to his mysterious death. His tales epitomize Gothic Romanticism, and his eerie, rich descriptions of revenge and murder haunt the reader with psychological horror. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is one of his most famous, but I haven’t read that yet. Also, these stories are examples of murderers who feel no guilt over their actions, which can be even scarier.
If you can’t fit in a 300-400 page novel, I’d recommend these shorter pieces of genius. I’ll definitely review more short stories in the future, because masterpieces come in all sizes!
Favorite Quote: “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. “ (“The Cask of Amontillado”)