Vengeance is a common theme throughout Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “The Cask of Amontillado”, and Robert Browning’s poem, My Last Duchess. While revenge is the idea of those works, the depiction of America is the main focus throughout the poems Ode to American English, and America. However, authors Barbara Hamby and Tony Hoagland approach this topic differently.
In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montresor was tired of Fortunato’s insults, so he took it into his own hands to punish Fortunato. After tricking him into tasting Amontillado, a sherry from Spain, Montresor trapped Fortunato in his crypt leaving him to die. As Montresor achieved vengeance, the Duke in My Last Duchess did as well. It is never stated but can be assumed that the Duke killed his late wife or had her killed. His reasoning was that she paid attention to other men, and possibly had affairs. Besides both men in these stories getting revenge, they also got away with it.
The speaker in, Ode to American English, recalls a time she was sitting in Paris and realized she missed America, in comparison to European countries. In a sarcastic tone, she describes everything she misses. However, the readers get the impression that she really does like and miss the American culture. Contrary to the speaker’s feelings in Ode to American English, the speaker in the poem America has a different point of view towards the American life style. The speaker, who is a teacher, feels that America is extremely materialistic, which disgusts him. At the end of the poem, Hoagland uses a metaphor to represent many Americans, who continue to lust for money and material objects, even though they are aware of less fortunate people. He is saying that instead of surrounding ourselves with these possessions, help others and stop pretending poverty does not exist.
In the first two readings, “The Cask of Amontillado,” and My Last Duchess, the characters are able to get revenge and remain innocent. Yet, they have to deal with their actions, which seem to haunt them. In the two poems Ode to American English, and America the authors show American culture through different eyes; therefore, getting two opposite views across.