Essay about the Nature of Evil

Category: Culture
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Edgar, Allan Poe was not your ordinary author. A writer known for his dark style of writing and mysterious tales that all humans have potential to do this, but many controls the urge. In his short stories “The Tell-tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado” Poe shows how humans become perverse and eventually show their inner demon. Growing up with an unbearable childhood, and being forced to drop out of college due to financial reasons, Poe turned his attention to working for literary journals and periodicals.

Having such a rough background, it is no surprise that Poe shows evil with traits of cruelty, deception, and revenge in his work. In “The Tell-tale Heart,” Poe shows the evil trait of cruelty. The unnamed narrator says that he shall tell the story in which he will defend his sanity yet confess to having killed an old man. His motivation was neither passion nor desire for money, rather the fear of the man’s pale blue eye. Again, he insists that he be not crazy because of his cool and measured actions, though criminal, are not a mad man.

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According to Pritchard: “it is this egocentrism from which “the pleasure in cruelty [is] manifested by civilized man” (Stekel 1:28). Since cruelty requires “the consciousness of cruelty, joy in another’s hurt, delight in a sense of power over another’s life” (1:27), it is not surprising that the narrator admits that he “could scarcely contain [his] feelings of triumph” (Poe 304), and although he “knew what the old man felt.” This quote shows how cold-hearted the narrator was. The lack of remorse is sickening when going over what he said. He was proud of how clever his plan was and that demonstrates the inner demons he was dealing with. Poe manifests the trait of evil with cruelty and does an amazing job showing it in this story. In Poe’s story, “The Cask of Amontillado,” he shows the evil trait of deception.

Although it is not Fortunato who is being deceived, rather Montresor. Montresor is being deceived by himself and God. Being that this story uses irony, it is not surprising to see the deceiver, or the one who thinks he is, Montresor, being deceived. Montresor devises a plan to take revenge on the wrong doings done to him by Fortunato. He wanted to do it in such a way that would keep him out of danger, but he ended up deceiving Fortunato by using his biggest weakness, alcohol. Montresor was an intelligent and intricate man. He was able to come up with a plan that would keep him out of harm, or jail. While he was enacting on his deceitful plan, he was actually the one being deceived. In this case, Fortunato had no insight as to what Montresor’s revenge plan was. For all he knew, he was being killed for a reason unknown to him. Montresor is a very cunning man, as evidenced in his scheme to kill Fortunato. However, through his intelligence, he deceives himself.

According to, Elhefnawy: “The fact of insult in itself is thus adequate to drive Montresor to murder, and let Poe get on with the story’s principle point of interest, how Montresor goes about his revenge-the protagonist not seeking satisfaction in a duel but exacting it through a more blatant and unusual method of murder.” In this quote, you can see that Montresor uses his intelligence and cunning wits to deceive Fortunato and it drove him until he had accomplished the goal had set. Looking over both stories, it is easy to tell what the common trait is for both main characters, and that is revenge. Revenge is something that Poe used to stand out for “The telltale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” In the Telltale Heart, there is a silly reason for murder. The man kills an old man because he has a form of cataract. He complains about his eye being milky and it being evil.

The killer also seems to suffered from schizophrenia and severe OCD. In the end the killer hears the beating of the man’s heart after he is dead. In the Cask of Amontillado, the killer gives the reason of murder to be an insult. Although the killer seems to be in perfect mental health it is still a silly reason to kill someone. Both used something small to seek revenge on the other person and exaggerated the situation to make their killing understandable. Poe used a unique was for both stories to demonstrate the use of revenge and this type of suspense and drama is the reason his stories are still talked about till this day. In conclusion, Poe’s use of these evil traits for his characters was genius.

Although he was not considered “normal” or used common elements in his short stories, Poe was someone who was ahead of his time. Looking over both stories, I have a better understanding of not just the themes and symbols, but the psychological analysis that presented a much more comprehensive view, that went a little deeper, and took a bit of a different approach. Poe gives you a point of view that you don’t see with most stories, and gave the reader a personal connection to the relationships of the main characters.

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Essay About The Nature of Evil. (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved from