There is a thin line between personal freedom of choice and the moral inclination of an individual. The choice chosen draws guidance from one’s own personal beliefs and morals. As such, there is conflict at times between what one is free to do and what their morals enable them to do. At times, whatever is to be done is legal and one is free to do them but their own morals come into conflict and stop them from the undertaking. As such, this paper will clearly discuss the concepts of freedom of options versus personal morals. An analysis of pieces of literature ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allen Poe, and ‘The Man in the Well’ by Ira Sher is core to the topic of discussion.
In the book Cask of Amontillado, we put into the life of Montresor and his undertaking of revenge on a fellow noble man, Fortunato. Montresor is angry at what he perceives to be an insult from Fortunato and plots his revenge against him. The book does not clearly tell the insult but we learn that Montresor was actually very angry to the point that he plots to kill his fellow noble man. He lures him under the disguise that he has laid his hand on a rare piece of liquor, Amontillado (Poe 17). The unsuspecting friend is brought along the way and even Montresor develops cold feet as they go along the tunnels towards the wine cellars. A clear drunk Fortunato declares that just a cough could not kill him, which gives Montresor renewed motivation. Eventually, they get to the wine cellars and Montresor cunningly chains his friend to the wine cellars, starts up the road, and lays stones above his friend, which forms a kind of tomb burying him, alive (Sova 74). The drunken Fortunato is so drunk that he perceives the whole thing a joke and is relaxed. As he continues laying up the stones, Fortunato sobers up and realizes what is happening. He tries to call for help to no avail and eventually Montresor lays the last stone and drops a burning torch down the tomb to seal the fate of his friend. Just as he does this, he is nauseated. He consoles himself that the dampness of the wine cellars is the cause of his nausea while it is in fact his morals taking shape of what he had done (Sova 76). He however, comes over this and he is still scot-free fifty years down the line but still remembers that fateful night. The book even ends with Montresor wishing his friend Fortunato rests in peace.
This piece of literature is a classic example of the options one is faced with versus one’s own morals. In the book, Montresor feels insulted and chooses to take matters into his own hands. He aims to take revenge on his friend and chooses the vilest option. It is important to note that revenge is a common phenomenon and can take various forms. More often than not, revenge takes the form of simple practices aimed at embarrassing the individual. Montresor could have used such activities aimed at embarrassing the individual where the person feels silly and society at large sees this and laughs at him. This kind of revenge makes one feel at peace and most of us undertake such form of revenge. Some however, would put it as water under the bridge and forgive the person resulting in no action being taken. Some however, would take drastic measures such as the case of Montresor. He killed his friend for a mere insult. All this it is important to note that it is all dependent on ones morals. The moral standing of Montresor can be taken as pretty low since murdering an individual for such a trivial matter is no mean feat (Sove 77). However, we see that although his morals were rotten, he still has some bit left and even asks Fortunato for them to go back. If this could have happened then Fortunato would not have met his demise. However, a rather drunk Fortunato only sees the alcohol ahead and chooses to continue. Moreover, after finally placing the final stone and dropping the burning torch on his friend, he suddenly feels nauseated. This is his moral conscience, which is taking effect though he draws himself to believe that the dampness of the cellars causes this (Sova 78). It is therefore evident that his morals were coming into conflict with his own personal choice to kill his friend. Though he does have very sinister morals, as he is even able to plot and execute the murder of his friend, it is still clear that he did have to fight off his moral conscience in the end to be able to execute the crime and live with him (Sova 79). Such is the case since even fifty years later, he still thinks about what he did and the body of his friend although he was never caught.
Another piece of work is the man in the well by Ira Sher. In this book, the book tells the story of the predicament of a man who finds himself in a well. A group of kids comes into the realization of the man who is in the well. The man tells the kids to go and tell their parents about him so that their parents may come and rescue him from certain death (The-Man-in-the-Well 22). However, what the kids do is the contrary. They keep mum and do not inform their parents about the man in the well. Instead, they choose to keep it their little secret. The kids keep him in the well and bring him food in turns. In addition, they go there and have conversations with the man. Eventually, they come to know each other and the kids out of naivety, tell the men about themselves and he even comes to know them by name. Due to their naivety, the tables have turned against them, as the man now knows them by name. He threatens them that he knows them by name and it was only a matter of time before he gets out and informs their parents about their hostility. The kids panic and try to think of what to do or who would eventually help them. In their panic, they choose the cruelest option; they now choose to cut links with the man. They stop giving him food and conversing with him. The man is all alone in the well and is almost certain of death, the kids continue with life as if nothing had happened (The-Man-in-the-Well 23).
This piece of literature also brings into contrast the freedom of choice vis-a-vis morality. Initially, the kids were faced with two options. They could have easily gone to their parents and the man could have been saved from the well. The kids could even have been commended for their actions that resulted in the man being saved. However, the kids took the other option, which involves taking action into their own hands. This was very cruel on their part and the reader is left with the question, are these kids morally right? More so, the fact that they are mere kids and can take such actions makes the reader critically think about their choice of actions (The Man in the Well). The book puts into perspective that the kids were immoral. However, there is some consolation in that the kids did not leave the man there to die alone. They took him as a toy, even engaged him in conversation, and most importantly gave him food. As such, they gave him company and food, which are necessities for survival. Eventually however, the kids at the end are faced with another choice to make. They come to realize that the man knows their names and if he is able to come out of the well, they would be in a lot of danger with their parents. What is morally correct would have been for the kids to take responsibility for their action, tell their parents of their doing. The man could eventually have been saved and they would have faced whatever repercussions would follow because of their misdemeanor (The Man in the Well). They again choose the wrong choice and choose to cut ties with the man. They stop talking to him and do not let anyone in on their little secret. As such, the man is sure of certain death since the kids do stop giving him food, which was crucial to his survival. It is therefore clear that these kids are actual monsters and their morals come into question. The morals of the kids are downward and they choose options, which are inhuman and affect the man directly since it is almost certain that he would die (The Man in the Well).
Similarly, in life, we are faced with the same life choices. The choices we opt for are a direct indication and inclined to our morality. Decisions such as to steal when life becomes tough versus struggling over limited resources and a hope of a better tomorrow is all down to morality. Moreover, the decision to revenge, to let it go, or even what course of action to take is all based on morality. In some instances, morality is the guiding factor in simple trivial issues of life such as telling a white lie that would harm no one versus telling the whole truth
In conclusion, it is quite evident that morality has a direct inclination on decisions people make. As evidenced in the books sampled, the persons involved had immoral principles and took choices that had a negative impact to the person faces with the predicament. In one case, this lead to the death of Fortunato while in the other case the man was left in the well with uncertainty but the chances of survival were in fact slim. As evidenced, it is clear that the moral standing of an individual has a direct impact on the decisions one makes when faced with a variety of options. Similarly, in life today we are faced with a number of choices. Morality is the guiding factor in the choice we make and the implications such choices will have. It is therefore true to state that the decisions we make from a certain pool of freedoms have a direct confine in our morals.
Poe, Edgar A. Edgar Allan Poe's Cask of Amontillado. Mahwah, N.J: Troll Associates, 1983. Sound recording.
Sova, Dawn B, and Dawn B. Sova. Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 2007. Internet resource.
""The Man in the Well" by Ira Sher." "The Man in the Well" by Ira Sher. 1 Mar. 2010. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://themaninthewell.blogspot.com/>.
Wang, Bella. Jordan Reid Berkow ed. "Summary and Analysis of The Cask of Amontillado. Poe’s Short Stories Study Guide". GradeSaver, 29 July 2009 Web. 10 November 2014.