humor and horror

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The paper discusses how and Edgar Allan Poe blends satire and horror in the short stories "The Cask of Amontillado," "Hop-Frog," and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." Humor in writing refers to the author's proclivity to use the reader's successful cognitive interactions to provide humor and elicit feelings of laughter during the reading process. Human readers have a sense of humor, and they like to chuckle, grin, or be amused as they read some parts of a piece of fiction. As a result, there are many explanations why Edgar Allan Poe uses humor in his novels. Firstly, he uses humor to address uncomfortable and confrontational subjects and to release the tension between the characters in the stories, the reader or the audience. In the cause of writing the prose of a piece of writing, the content can get too heavy and thus the author uses humor to ease the tension created. Also, the fun keeps the reader, or the audience engaged and avoids getting bored in the process of reading the piece of writing. To bring out the multidimensional and the reality of the characters, the author uses humor to show the human nature of the characters. In the effort of making the work memorable and providing flow and punctuation in addition to delivering cohesiveness in a piece of writing, humor assists the author to integrate the aspects in any part of writing. On the other hand, horror in writing is the overwhelming feeling caused by a shuddering fear as a result of the subsequent events in the prose of a story. Horror in stories enables the reader to be engaged and helps to bring out the critical psychological response that thrills the readers and the audience. Edgar Allan Poe uses horror to evoke the feeling of anxiety and suspense and eliciting panic among the reader. Therefore, the technique of using both humor and fear in his stories, Edgar Allan Poe makes his writing style unique and exciting.
“The Cask of Amontillado” is a story of vengeance where the significant protagonists offended one another resulting in horror actions that lead to death. Montresor is presented as a vengeful character who reacts to the insults of his sworn enemy Fortunato by ensuring that he makes him pay for his actions (Delaney, Bill 12). To execute his vengeance, he lured Fortunato into the crypts of his family after lying to him that he will taste the Amontillado Sherry. Fortunato falls into the trap of his executioner and Montresor entombs him in a wall where he succumbs to starvation and thirst while carnival ranges above them. The author uses suspense to bring the theme of horror in the story (Campbell, Killis, and Edgar Allan Poe 10). Through overshadowing, the reader can foresee the intent of Montresor to harm and execute his revenge on his enemy, Fortunato. As the two characters went through the catacombs, Fortunato claimed that he could not out of a cough and Montresor replied in agreement since he knew that he would kill Fortunato through starvation and dehydration (Delaney, Bill 16). The coat of arms of Montresor’s family foreshadows the horrific future events in the story as Montresor executed his revenge mission. The human foot crushing the tenacious serpent represents the image of the two characters with the foot referencing Montresor and the snake referencing Fortunato.
In most cases, horror stories depict the act of merciless of the characters in executing their missions. In the same way, Montresor crushes his one-time friend who hurt him with biting insults. The horrific conversation of the Masons between the two characters foretells the death of Fortunato (Poe, Edgar Allan, and Arthur Hobson Quinn 10). Montresor is challenged by his enemy to accept that he is a member of the Masonic order and he agrees and states that he is a literal stonemason. Therefore, he references the act of building Fortunato’s grave using stones an act that he executes in the end (Delaney, Bill 19). In the story, it seems that Fortunato is not aware of the pain he has caused his friend and him unable to foresee the potential danger of following Montresor into the unknown world. The reader is aware of the intent anger and revenge mission to be executed by Montresor, and thus, the audience is filled with terror as they come into terms with the reality of events at the end of the story (Campbell, Killis, and Edgar Allan Poe 16). The inhumane nature of Montresor is horrific since he jokes about serious issues and decides to open up about a murder he committed fifty years down the line, and he felt unapologetic about it. In the story, he seems to be the judge and the executioner of the crimes committed against him by his enemy, and he decided to eliminate him without giving him the chance to apologize. The final talk between the two characters evoke fear and heighten the horror in the story as Fortunato achieves an upper hand over Montresor (Delaney, Bill 19). The plea of Fortunato to have Montresor forgive him for the love of God introduces a critical controversy in the story as it brings Fortunato to the pit of despair and desperation and invokes God to rescue him from the imminent death. There is horror in the way irony is used in the story as love is turned into hate and anger that leads to death. Fortunato believes for the love of God, Montresor should not execute his plan and should change his mind (Flores 12). Just like a joke, Fortunato leaves his friend to die in solitude in the place where there were minimal chances of getting help. The description of the route to the graves of Montresor family members is horrific as it is full of human skeletons that frighten the reader. Also, the audience is curious to know the ultimate revenge action that Montresor will execute against his enemy.
“Hop-Frog” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe and present a character with dwarfism who was taken by a king from his homeland and he ended up becoming a servant to a king who was fond of jokes. The author uses humor to illustrate the Hop-Frog as a character who uses trickery to take his vengeance on the ruler and his government. In a joking manner, he dressed the king and his ministers like orangutans for a masquerade and to the amazement of the king’s quests, he sets them ablaze. Afterwards, he was able to escape with his friend Trippetta who was also a victim of the King. Unlike in the “The Cask of Amontillado” where the author uses terror to present the theme of vengeance, in “Hop-Frog,” Poe employed humor (Hubbell, Jay B., and Edgar Allan Poe 22). The description of the chief protagonist in the story is humorous as his teeth were repulsive, compelling, and significant. The hands of Hop-Frog resembled those of a small monkey, and due to his dwarfism, his movement was like that of a frog. The king understood Hop-Frog as a creature that gave him intricate pleasure for him to laugh at since his biological makeup did not amount to him being referred to as a man (Hubbell, Jay B., and Edgar Allan Poe 16). Notably, according to the King Hop-Frog was a freak who was limited to his body and thus there was nothing much he could do. The origin of Hop-Frog is mocked by the king as he referred his home place as a barbarous region and servitude was his destined occupation.
Therefore, the reader is humorously introduced to a character who is not in a position to defend himself and the people he cares about in the king’s place. He undergoes various instances of humiliation before his friend and fellow dwarf, Trippetta, and decided to take his revenge mission on the king and his ministers (Poe, Edgar Allan, and Arthur Hobson Quinn 18). He takes advantage of the notion the king had on him as a joker to plan an execution plan with his friend, an idea that was well executed and was able to escape. His mocked arms enabled him to carry out several acrobatic feats that worked to his advantage. The king thought he was having fun by having Hop-Frog drink several goblets of wine but was able to remain calm even after his friend was thrown wine into her face. Remarkably, Hop-Frog was able to surpass the comic character as depicted by the author through the king and his cabinet to fall in love that transcends his physical being and decided to fight for it with all his might and intelligence. At the end of the story, Hop-Frog surprises the reader in the way he used the slightest opportunity to execute his revenge mission and was able to rescue the girl he was in love with and was able to escape to his homeland unharmed (Poe, Edgar Allan, and Arthur Hobson Quinn 17). In an ironic twist of events, Hop-Frog was able to have the last laugh and the expense of the king. Therefore, the author presents Hop-Frog as a character who had a humorous look but went beyond physical challenges to become greater and fight for his freedom.
The ministers and the king were big bodied men with strength, and they had no disabilities. However, it was in their predisposition to joke at other people as the deemed them as failures and their act of not naming Hop-Frog after his real name illustrates that saw him as an object that deserved to be laughed at and used. The king underestimated the power of the dwarf, and in the end, he becomes the laughing stock among his guests (Poe, Edgar Allan, and Arthur Hobson Quinn 26). Through a carefully enacted and planned setup, Hop-Frog was able to lay the groundwork for the death of the king and his ministers. The humorous nature of Hop-Frog blinds the king to reveal the hateful and vengeful character of his servant. Hop-Frog was given the keys to the room where he planned to execute his murder, and the king allowed no weapon to the gathering. Until their last moments of their death, the king and his ministers were convulsed with laughter and were ignorant if was ahead of them that would lead to their death. The joking nature of the king and the inability to judge Hop-Frog out of his physical limitations dooms them to their fate.
“Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a horror story by Edgar Allan Poe and presents a solution to the puzzle that surrounded murder of two victims, Mademoiselle Camille and Madame L’Espanaye. The two victims were killed in mysterious circumstances that even the authorities could not be able to reveal what transpired before the deaths. C, Auguste Dupin is presented in the story as a super character with unique abilities to analyze situations and come up with solutions (Frank, Lawrence 13). His brief encounter with the narrator reveals his intelligence, and in the end, he was able to come up with the theory behind the killing of the two murder victims. The author uses a horrific description of the murders as the head of one of the victims was completely ripped off horrifyingly. The author is thrown in suspense since the cause of death of the two victims remained unknown, and the police were holding the wring suspects in custody. However, the involvement of C. Auguste Dupin in the case enabled the authorities to come up with the reality that caused the murders. It was horrifying to realize that the sailor was housing a creature that he had limited control over its potential harm (Frank, Lawrence 19). The beast caused the death of the two women, and there was nothing the owner could do to save them. The mysterious voices made by the sailor and the animal were horrifying to the extent of raising the concern of neighbors to the victims who rushed to the scene to rescue them.
To sum it up, the three stories of Edgar Allan Poe illustrate the use of horror and humor to bring the thematic issues in his work. Through the use of the techniques, the reader is glued to the story and gets interested to read the whole story. Therefore, the reader and the audience remains engaged throughout the story and thus making his work memorable as a result of the shaking horrible and humorous plot.

Work Cited

Campbell, Killis, and Edgar Allan Poe. "Selected Poems Of Edgar Allan Poe." American Literature, vol 1, no. 1, 2016, p. 103. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/2919743.
Delaney, Bill. "Poe's THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO." The Explicator, vol 64, no. 1, 2016, pp. 33-35. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/00144940509604808.
Flores. "Edgar Allan Poe By Eduardo Mendoza." The Edgar Allan Poe Review, vol 15, no. 2, 2014, p. 211. The Pennsylvania State University Press, doi:10.5325/edgallpoerev.15.2.0211.
Frank, Lawrence. ""The Murders In The Rue Morgue": Edgar Allan Poe's Evolutionary Reverie." Nineteenth-Century Literature, vol 50, no. 2, 2016, pp. 168-188. University Of California Press, doi:10.1525/ncl.1995.50.2.99p01497.
Hubbell, Jay B., and Edgar Allan Poe. "Poems Of Edgar Allan Poe." American Literature, vol 1, no. 2, 2015, p. 226. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/2919922.
Poe, Edgar Allan, and Arthur Hobson Quinn. The Complete Poems And Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe. New York, A.A. Knopf, 2016,.

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