Edgar Allan Poe and Moral Relativism——A Comparison of The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado毕业论文
关键词：埃德加·爱伦·坡； 《泄密的心》； 《一桶白葡萄酒》； 道德观； 道 德相对主义
1. Introduction 1
2. Demonstration 3
2.1 An analysis of the narrative 3
2.1.1 Narrative and Poe’s morality in The Tell-Tale Heart 3
2.1.2 Narrative and Poe’s morality in The Cask of Amontillado 4
2.1.3 A Comparison and moral relativism 5
2.2 An analysis of the characterization 6
2.2.1 Characterization and Poe’s morality in The Tell-Tale Heart 6
2.2.2 Characterization and Poe’s morality in The Cask of Amontillado 7
2.2.3 A Comparison and moral relativism 9
2.3 An analysis of the setting and background 9
2.3.1 Setting, background and Poe’s morality in The Tell-Tale Heart 10
2.3.2 Setting, background and Poe’s morality in The Cask of Amontillado 10
2.3.3 A Comparison and moral relativism 11
3. Conclusion 12
Edgar Allan Poe and Moral Relativism
—A Comparison of The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), born in Boston, losing both of his parents at a very young age and living a short life of poverty and illness, has long been one of the most controversial figures in world literary history. Though once dismissed by Emerson in three words, “the jingle man” and declared unreadable by Mark Twain (Chang 105), nowadays, Poe is universally considered as the father of modern detective novels, an unique poet and an acute critic. The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado, two of his remarkable short stories, are representative tales of horror and suspense. In The Tell-Tale Heart, an unnamed narrator, through thorough calculating, murders an old man for fear of his blue eye, but confesses to his crime finally and reveals the dismembered and hidden body. In The Cask of Amontillado, the narrator Montresor, out of revenge, also through careful schemes, cajoles Fortunato into his damp vaults and traps him there secretly by walling up the entrance. Seen as a writer lacking morality, Poe’s moral outlook and those moral issues beneath the two texts are worth study and discussion.
Studies abroad of Edgar Allan Poe develop on the process of twists and turns. In 1849, his obituary written by Griswold was published in the New York Tribune, portraying Poe as insane, dissipated and disgusting. Ever since that an undesirable image of Poe has been molded due to the misconceptions. Moreover, mad and abnormal characters appear frequently in Poe’s works, making him be thought of lacking morality. For a long time, critics thought Poe lacked attention to moral norm and only focused on pure beauty in literature. In recent years, as the establishment of Poe Studies Association and relevant journals, Poe has gradually been viewed with objectivity and accuracy. For instance, Harry Lee Poe, Chairman of the Poe Foundation, a descendant of Edgar Allan Poe, has rehabilitated Poe’s reputation in his work Evermore EDGAR ALLAN POE and the Mystery of the Universe by giving a detailed account of his life and composition philosophy. He claims that although there are no unambiguous moral values, Poe actually conveys strong sense of moral in the texts impliedly. In addition, Professor William Forrest points out that Poe has extraordinary distinct judging view. A theme of justice runs through stories such as The Black Cat and The Tell-Tale Heart (78).
In domestic academic field, studies of Poe are obviously insufficient compared with those of Hemingway or Faulkner. Poe was first introduced to China by Lu Xun and Zhou Zuoren as “living free and easily, a bit addicted to alcohol, writing amazing poems and novels…and skilled in depicting horror and compunction” (Zhu 21). During more than a century afterwards, domestic scholars have been increasingly concerned about Poe and his works, making the studies diversified. According to data on China National Knowledge Internet, since the 21st century, there have been thousands of theses about Poe, mainly on Gothic elements and beauty of death. In 2008, Professor Shen Dan published Poe’s Conception of Tale/Morality, Unreliable Narration and “The Tell-Tale Heart” to discuss Poe’s personal moral stance. On the Ethics of Allan Poe was published by Tian Jun in 2011 to explain ethical relationships in Poe’s works. In general, compared with other themes, overseas and domestic studies of Poe’s moral outlook are both relatively backward.