The readings that seemed to connect in this weeks reading analysis are “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe and “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning with there theme of deceitfulness and murder. Barbara Hamby’s, “Ode to American English” and Tony Hoagland’s “America” seem to connect with the tradition of American society and how they are viewed differently.
In “The Cask of Amontillado” and “My Last Duchess”, there seems to play an idea of jealousy and hatred for one person. In “The Cask of Amontillado”, Montresor has a long standing grudge with Fortunado. Fortunado, although we do not see it, dumps on Montresor and seems to have this feeling of higher taste in wine and class. The mysterious murder comes when Montresor leads Fortunado to the cask where the Amontillado is (an Italian Sherry). In this cask, Poe uses foreshadowing of what is to come. When Fortunado develops a cough, he tells Montresor that this will not be his cause of death. Montresor agrees in a way that he already knows how Fortunado will die. The power of competition plays a key role in persuading Fortunado to go to the cask. Montresor feels that Luchesi has a good sense of taste and Fortunado disagrees and dismiss Luchesi sense of taste. This egger’s Fortunado to want to follow Montresor. After Montresor has closed up the wall with Fortunado inside, he feels sick, not knowing that Fortunado may have gotten the best of Montresor or that when Montresor calls on Fortunado, which Fortunado does not respond. This may seem that Montresor needs or regrets doing this to Fortunado. In “My Last Duchess”, the duke is discussing with the emissary to wed again. He was widowed in his last marriage to a young girl. The duke shows the picture of his widow to the emissary and only has bad things to say of her. He says that she flirted and that he didn’t agree with her behavior. This makes the reader think that the duke caused the death of his first wife and has this mysterious feeling in the poem. After describing his disgust of her he moves on to another painting as if he never had a conversation about it.
Both these reading are surrounded by controversy and murder through jealously. Both characters are also in historically context. They take place in the mid 1800’s in there prospected places.
The other two works are similar in a way of how they see America. They both view America differently, but in the end they can’t stop being Americanized. In “Ode to American English”, Hamby describes how she misses the American way of language. She misses the simple way of America with its slang language and Johnny Cash. The Europeans are too elegant and sophisticated for our world of simplicity and outlaw is the tone in which I picked up. In Tony Hoagland’s “America”, he disses the American way of commercialized life style and money is everything attitude. In the end though he seems to be part of the life style he is talking down to. This is shown in the last two lines, “And yet it seems to be your own hand, Which turns the volume higher?” This last line sums up the whole poem. We can’t get away from the American way of life and no matter how much we like or dislike it.
These two works show how to different views of American society can be in relation with each other. One misses the American way, while the other can’t stand it. But in the end it is who they are and what they have been accustomed to.