Below is a reply to the attached essay. answer the BOLD questions. answer does not need to exceed a couple of paragraphs.
Since you mentioned Edgar Allan Poe and “The Poetic Principle,” I want to bring up one of Poe’s stories, “The Cask of Amontillado.” As you’ll recall, in this story the narrator, Montresor, chains his drunk friend Fortunato to a niche in a wall and then seals him up there using brick and mortar—leaving him to die a slow death. So if we can believe the narrator, this story recounts an extremely cruel murder.
Here we have a story that is (1) about an absolutely cruel and immoral act, and (2) extremely well written, skilfully using wonderful language and a variety of sophisticated literary techniques. It’s no wonder Poe thought that critics should base their judgments on beauty rather than morality.
I agree with Poe, at least when it comes to texts like “The Cask of Amontillado.” But I also think there are differences between stories like this one and works like “Heart of Darkness.” Among those differences:
— TCoA is purely fictional, whereas HoD, though still fictional, is closely based on the real history of Belgian imperialism in the Congo.
— TCoA is about one man’s murder, whereas HoD involves the murder of millions. (The Belgian genocide in the Congo was perhaps the worst in human history, even worse than Hitler’s.)
— The prejudice at the center of TCoA is one man’s purely personal prejudice against another man of the same race, whereas the prejudice at the center of HoD is a racial prejudice, shared by millions of people, of one race against another—a racial prejudice that has done and continues to do a great deal of harm to a great many people.
So, both of these texts feature immoral actions depicted in brilliant and beautiful way, yet there also seem to be key differences between them. Do you think these differences matter when it comes to our judgment of them? Can we set aside the moral failings of Kurtz in the same way we set aside those of Montresor?
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