Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe and The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham
The Cask of Amontillado was written by Edgar Allan Poe back in the year 1846.It has a quite an unclear setting and the time on which the events that take place in it have been speculatively fixed in the period bordering the eighteenth century. This book that is so well written in the form of a classic was first brought to the market after being published by the then famous publishing channel known by the name Godey’s Lady Book. It is a short story and that is the genre it has been given although some literary figures argue that it should be classified as a novel while others have classified it as a horror book. The horrific element comes in through the terror that is unleashed on some of the characters by their colleagues. Italy is the country of setting location and the plot revolves around a fellow who claims to have been abused by a friend and so all he does is to exact revenge by luring the victim into some underground cellar where he ties him and leaves him there. He seems to care less as he smiles and feels happy at himself having accomplished whatever target he had set for himself.
The Magician on the other hand is a book by Somerset Maugham.It was written much later in 1908 and this makes a difference of more than sixty years between the time it was published and the time when Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado was published. Somerset travels to France where he socializes widely with a number of people who relate with him in a friendly way. But one funny character who appears to be hiding his bad character catches his attention.His name is Aleister Crolwly.Having gotten tired of Paris, Somerset travels to London, England where he gets a chance of mingling with other writers. They assist and encourage him till he is able to get the chance to write this book. So the Magician is actually written in London. Somerset’s novel is a fantasy unlike the horror one of Allan Poe.
But a careful look into the two books lead to the conclusion that they are more similar than different. Below are ideas that confirm this statement.
A number of similarities emerge as one goes through these books. The first similarity that emerges as one read the two books is the presence of mystery and magical themes. In Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, Fortunato is a member of a mysterious secret society called the masons or the freemasons. Fortunato performs a sign that Montresor does not understand and Fortunato tells him, “You are not of the brotherhood” (Poe 1846).Also, Montresor lures his friend Fortunato into some underground cellar where he ties him up and leaves him there. This creates s a sense of mystery that is a bit hard to understand. The noise that fortunate makes from the cellar after he has been locked there by Montresor is also ominous. Atleast the description makes it appear so. The magician also has it is own share of magical and mystery themes. When Arthur and Haddo are having a talk, the theme of magic comes in.Haddo makes it clear that he knows nothing about magic. “When you begin to talk of magic and mysticism, I confess am out of my depth”, (Maugham 21) he declares.
Apart from the above, the two books have another interesting aspect in common. Both Allan Poe’s the Cask of Amontillado and Somerset Maugham’s the magician are tragedies. This simply means that some of the characters in the books die. In The Cast of Amontillado, Montresor has tied Fortunato in a cellar on the underground till the guy has died. The bones of Fortunato are found after a very long period of time.Montresor says thus concerning the bones of the late Fortunato, “I re-erected erected the old rampart of bones”. This was after he had already died in the cellar where he had locked him up. In the Magician, Margaret also dies. Arthur is reporting her death and he says, “I have come about Margaret’s death” (Maugham 103).This therefore mean that these two books are tragedies.
Another big similarity that exists between the two books is the fact that both books display the masculinity of the classical novel where the key characters were men. Allan Poe gives us two men who are in conflict and one kills the other. These are Montresor and Fortunato.Fortunato is killed by Montresor.We do not hear of any serious female character in the Cask of Amontillado.Going to the magician, the key characters are men. Margaret is the most outstanding female character but the majority of the characters are males. There is Arthur, there Haddo; there is Dr Porhoët and many other male characters. This is a clear case of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century novels that had most of their characters as males. For our two cases, the imbalance is open and clear.
In conclusion, the thesis that we formulated earlier about the two books having so much in common has been defended given the amount of evidence that has been availed to proof this point of view. The presence of the theme of magic and mystery in both books, the tragic nature of both books and the inclination towards masculinity in the choice of characters are all shared by the two books. Therefore it is safe to say that the two books have more in common.