Symbolism is a tool used to bring in the underlying story of the era in the fiction, such as Emily’s house and Montresso’s catacomb both are a symbol of Gothic literature. This creates a reality and passion in stories. In both the stories “The Cask Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, the writers present their ideas symbolically that contribute to the development of the themes.
The narrator describes Emily’s house as, “eye sore among eye sore” which symbolizes a deserted, scary house with over grown bushes, chipped off paint. This shows a complete symbol of Emily’s isolation from the rest of the town. Moreover, Emily’s hair is another symbol of time, as quoted, “a vigorous iron gray like the hair of an active man”. The strand of hair and dents on the pillow found next to the dead body of Homer also symbolize that Emily was an anachronous as she was sleeping next to it.
The major setting is a huge funeral of Emily Grierson in her deserted house which was old and creepy in appearance also symbolizes her. The setting is based on Faulker’s untrue after effects of the Civil War in a small town of Jefferson located in the South of the United States. The story explains the principles and emblem of life of Emily’s neighborhood and shows the developments in the South after the Civil War, while Emily was still dwelling in the past with her father’s values. Though she remained isolated for ten years, her once grand house falls apart and the respected family seems to have descended the ladders even her loved ones departed.
Similarly, symbolism in the story of The Cask of Amontillado is found at many points to. Starting from the setting of the story, the carnival is a symbol of ‘insanity’, and ‘celebration’. People in a carnival just enjoy and party all around, with lower inhibitions from any danger. It portrays the narrator’s master mind in taking advantage of the situation to be successful in his plan to kill Fortunato. The key symbol, Amontillado, is a rare special wine which was used to lure Fortunato. The symbolism used by Edger Allen Poe is muffled with irony. The Cask of Amontillado also symbolizes Fortunato’s obsession of wine as stated “he had a weak point” “He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine.” So it becomes an attraction for him which leads him to his death. Catacomb is also a symbol of death and wickedness of the narrator.
The story begins at dusk in the evening when the carnival is in full swing in an unknown European city. On one hand, the festival was lively where everyone seemed to be extremely happy. On the other hand we find Montresso’s Palazzo and the dark, creepy and mysterious catacomb, which assists in creating the disturbing ambiance of the story.
The theme of the story “The Cask of Amontillado” is vengeance, as Montressor takes his revenge from his friend who insulted him sometime back. The coat of arms, which bares the motto also has, “the human foot d’or in a field of azure and the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are embedded in the heels’. This is a theme around which the story revolves, the terrible death of Fortunato, without ‘the opportunities of escape’ and the final ‘cravings of wine’ led him to his doom in the catacomb. On the other hand, the theme in “A Rose for Emily” is isolation of an elite family from the neighborhood, the environment, because of their own choice of action. The narrator shows Emily as insane which creates compassion in the reader who is ready to forgive her for her crime.
In both these fictions, the narrators narrate an entire incident, where the characters are self-centered with high attitude. Emily could not take the betrayal of Homer and hence killed him and preserved his body for her own satisfaction. On the other hand, Montressor buried Fortunato alive because he could not endure the insult he felt from Fortunato’s comments.
Poe, Edger Allen. (1846). The Cask of Amontillado. Web. 31st August 2012. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/POE/cask.html
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Web. 30th August 2012. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/wf_rose.html