Of the four readings, they distinctly paired off in striking similarities. Tony Hoagland’s “America” and Barbara Hamby’s “Ode to American English” each described our current American culture; while Edgar Allan Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado” and Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” both detailed vengeful murders.
Both Hoagland and Hamby celebrate the American culture in their own ways. Hoagland points out some aspects of our culture that he may not necessarily agree with or like, but he then explains how he, along with our entire society, are enthralled in our culture. Although he recognizes how materialistic Americans can be and how consumed we are with television and pop culture, Hoagland admits that we cannot help but fall into the trap of what is our American culture with the last two lines, “And yet it seems to be your own hand / Which turns the volume higher?” I found this quite relatable that we may not agree with the superficial ways of our American culture, yet we cannot resist it. Hamby celebrates the American language and culture in a slightly different manner. Hamby specifically describes the American language and how it has changed drastically as the years pass by. She emphasizes the informality of the language, and yet its beauty.
The next two readings each describe murders, however in different manners. Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado” portrays a man taking revenge on another man. Although the specific reasoning for such revenge is not directly communicated, the murder is nonetheless horrific as Montresor fools Fortunato into his wine cellar where he chains him to a wall and continues to build a new wall over him. It is clear that the Montresor is an evil man as he has done this many times before in the same exact manner. Browning takes a bit of a different approach on the subject of murder as he portrays a man who has killed his flirtatious wife and keeps a portrait of her in his house. Both of these instances relate back to the story we had read in class earlier this week, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” in that we cannot trust others as everyone has their own secret agenda. Although this is an extreme generalization, we see in each case a man with his own agenda of murder. Although I’d like to not believe that “a good man is hard to find,” it seems to be a commonly repeated theme in literature and society.