‘The Red Room’, which is written by H. G. Wells, is a totally different gothic story from ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allen Poe. ‘The Red Room’ is about an arrogant man who thinks that he can brave a night in the sinister red room, however the red room is haunted by some unknown being. Whereas ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ shows a man called Montressor who swears to get revenge on his persistent tormentor, Fortunato. He gets this revenge on Fortunato via locking him inside a dead-end passageway. He chains Fortunato to a wall and seals the passage with another wall.
This makes the confinement of the place where Fortunato is sealed, airtight. An insight into Montressor’s twisted mind is shown to the audience by the extreme way in which he murders Fortunato. Both stories however, use key gothic elements such as nightly settings, dark rooms covered in dust or damp, subterranean passages and the absence of light as well as the narrative genre in order to achieve an interesting and invigorating story. In ‘The Red Room’ the narrator creates tension and suspense by using time stretching to tell the story and allowing the reader’s imagination to wonder about what the unknown being is.
While in ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ Edgar Allen Poe uses the stream of consciousness to tell the story and allows the reader to know what happens in advance but doesn’t allow them to know the severity of what will happen. The openings of both stories are totally different which create a totally different attitude for the reader. ‘The Red Room’ starts mid conversation ‘I can assure you’ this allows the audience to feel as if they are stepping into someone’s life.
In the first sentence the reader can assume that the narrator is talking to them and the fact that ‘it will take a very tangible ghost’ to frighten him shows the genre of story that it is other than narrative. It also introduces you to the essential theme of fear, without fear a Gothic story is not of the Gothic genre. The theme is also reinforced with repetition of ‘its your own choosing’ and ‘this haunted room’ The 1st person narration shows how confident the narrator is as well as his arrogance to the warnings given by the custodians in the story.
His arrogance to the persistent warnings from the custodians shows that he feels they are too old or too superstitious to realise what they are talking about. This helps the story to move on and gives the narrator a motive to go into the red room and allows the reader to get into the story and feel for the character, as well as allowing them to keep guessing and adds to the other theme of suspense. The setting is established early on in the story with the night, a fire and a castle mentioned.
The absence of the description of light creates a spooky atmosphere for the reader to imagine. The custodians in the story are described as slightly deformed ‘[a woman with] pale eyes wide open [staring into the fire]’, ‘the man with the withered arm’ and ‘[his lip] hung pale and pink from his decaying teeth’. This helps the audience to understand the narrator’s arrogance because of the way the custodians look as well as the allowing them to be afraid before the story has reached its climax.
This is a very good technique that H. G. Wells implants, to make his work just that bit more exciting. Unlike Edgar Allen Poe, who writes to inform the reader as to what happens first and then as to how it happened. The warnings that the custodians provide help foreshadow what might happen in the latter part of the story. ‘This night of all nights’ shows the reader that something even worse will happen to the narrator due to the fact that he is going on that particular night.
The sentence structure leading up to the peak in fear and suspense is long-winded such as ‘with a cry … he bedroom candlestick’. The ending being in daylight gives the audience the effect of relief. It allows them to realise that the ordeal is truly over. Whereas in the beginning of ‘The Cask Of Amontillado’ the narrator, Montressor tries to justify his crime, by telling the reader the reason why he killed Fortunato, ‘ The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could’ This shows that the little remorse or guilt that he might have, slowly distinguished by the end of the story.
This remorse comes across subtler to the reader as if Montressor is slightly guilty ofhis crime. He also tells the reader that ‘It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will’. However towards the end of the story he shows even more irony towards his victim’s untimely death. Writing the story in the first person through the eyes of the narrator allows the readers a different insight into the death of Fortunato.
Edgar Allen Poe, uses irony and foreshadowing to a great extent as well as using it creatively and effectively, for instance when Fortunato says, ‘the cough’s a mere nothing; it will not kill me’ shows that Fortunato has no clue of what is about to happen even though Montressor drops hints such as ‘True -true’ This keeps the readers interest as to how Fortunato will be killed because he ‘shall not die of a cough’. Edgar Allen Poe allows the audience to feel that there is a big rivalry between Montressor and Fortunato.
Montressor tells the audience that he ‘was skilful in the Italian vintages’ as well as Fortunato was ‘in the matter of old wines he was sincere’. This shows that they are competitive men because Montressor ‘b[uys] largely whenever [he] could. ‘ This rivalry creates conflict and tension. The fact that Montressor wants to seek Luchesi to find out about the Amontillado urges Fortunato despite his respiratory problems and his drunkenness shows that Fortunato has a great passion for sherry. He repeats twice that ‘Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry’.
Which shows that Fortunato thinks highly of himself as well as he looks down on Luchesi even though ‘some fools will have it that his taste is a match for yours’. Montressor uses this as a bait to get Fortunato to come with him. This shows that Montressor is revealing Fortunato’s arrogance to the audience. The sentence structure towards the end of the story is short and less varied compared to other parts of the story this is to help create tension and suspense by making the reader read faster and realise how Montressor is feeling.
The ending being in Latin shows Allen Poe’s ability to be able to keep the reader interested until the end. Most readers will not know what the Latin means which means that the story will stay in their mind because they will be curious as to what it means. The Latin however, is ironic because he wishes Fortunato’s bones to rest in peace. The setting of both stories is very typical of a Gothic story due to the fact that they contain key gothic elements such as subterranean passages and spiral staircases as well as the most important element of darkness.
The absence of light in both stories creates tension fear and suspense. The description of the house in ‘The Red Room’ given by the narrator, ‘deep-toned, old fashioned’ shows that the house is apart from the rest of the world and that it is dilapidated He also describes the inhabitants as ‘seem[ing] to belong to another age’. Whereas, the catacombs in ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ show that there is no way back for Fortunato as he goes deeper and deeper inside despite all the numerous offers made by Montressor.
Come we will go back’. By saying this Montressor encourages Fortunato to press on despite the hindrances he has to face like his cough. Montressor knows he will continue to press on because of Fortunato’s arrogance. The language is fairly straightforward for a society of today to understand however, the language in ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ is a bit more challenging for younger readers to understand due the language being directed at a Victorian audience.
The sentence structure is also slightly different but it is more noticeable in ‘The Red Room’ for instance where a lady says ‘eight-and-twenty years’ instead of twenty-eight years old. The vocabulary in both is very vivid and broad, words which come from the Victorian era such as ‘impunity’ and ‘penumbra’, are not so widely used today. ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ describes its characters a lot more than ‘The Red Room’ does, we are told that Fortunato dresses in ‘tight fitting parti-striped dress’, which is not a dress you would normally see today.
The fact that Fortunato is dressed in a party dress shows the irony and Victorian background in the story and also accompanies Fortunato’s drunken mood. The physical features of the people are described in The Red Room, which help provide a more fearsome atmosphere. ‘ The man with the withered arm’ helps the reader to realise that the narrator is nothing like the senior citizens in the house as well as allowing the reader to slightly fear the custodians. Both stories use darkness and fear extremely well, in building up the sense of enclosed darkness and the sense of being alone.
The Red Room’ talks about thrusting his arms out to ‘the ponderous darkness away’ from the narrator. This allows the reader to visualise the enclosing darkness and possibilities of what might be in it. ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ allows the reader to sympathise with Fortunato as Montressor seals him off from the rest of the world this also creates suspense and tension. Montressor also seals off all the light and allows the darkness to creep in on Fortunato; this again creates a sense of fear and crucial suspense. Both stories use gothic story themes a lot.
Themes such as the subterranean passages and spiral staircases are used to great effect in both stories. The use of the Catacombs (subterranean passages) in ‘The Cask Of Amontillado’ helps the reader to realise that where Fortunato will be killed is far away from where anyone would find him. It is also ironic that he is murdered in a burial chamber for the dead. The use of a spiral staircase in ‘The Red Room’ also allows the reader to feel tense and nervous due to the fact that the narrator cannot see around the corner or who is at the top of the stairs until he gets there.
In conclusion both stories are written in great ways and achieve the same thing with the Red Room’s lack of description about what was in the penumbra allows the reader to think of something that could lure in the dark and what they are scared of. Whereas the vivid description of the dark catacombs filled with ‘Nitre’ allows the reader to feel claustrophobic and understand Fortunato’s pain and suffering being locked in the catacombs.