Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” and Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter depict seemingly normal men that are in fact twisted sociopath killers. These narratives show humanity’s dark side and the scary existence of evil.
Both narratives use dramatic irony in order to create tension from the beginning. Montressor said, “You will not believe that I spoke of a threat, you who so well know my soul’s nature” (P.73). The reader is forced to deal with the unpleasant situation of knowing Fortunato’s fate and being treated as if he were their friend. Laughton shows scenes in which Powell’s true character is only revealed to the audience. Laughton frames Powell in a diner scene with low lighting and side lighting. While Powell is praised by all the characters as a upright man of God, the audience remains seated. Powell’s face appears half-hidden in shadows. This emphasizes Powell’s dark side. And the camera’s low angle conveys Powell’s dominance. Both Powell, Montressor are respected men who hide their darker sides. Powell is a preacher. However, he has a misperception about God and believes that killing other people is especially pleasing to God. Powell believes that killing someone, especially one you have just married, and stealing from others is Godly. Montressor is, however, a wealthy nobleman who is considered honorable by his local community. Montressor’s comment that his heart became sick because of the dampness caused by the catacombs is an example. I quickly wanted to end my work. Montressor may misunderstand this as a feeling of bad for Fortunado. However, he is actually being sarcastic. This reinforces the idea that appearances can deceive. Montressor may be trying to get Fortunato’s opinions on his wine. Montressor is a con artist and tricks Fortunato by his friendliness.
Both stories use foreshadowing to provide a glimpse into what might happen in the future. Fortunato’s conversation with Montressor, where he says “I drink”, and Montresor replies “to those buried that lie around us,” and “And to your long, happy life.” Fortunato then gives hints about what is coming next. Fortunato, who is piercing a spear through the skeleton of a Cask of Amontillado, uses foreshadowing to do so in a similar fashion. He foreshadows his end and ends up in the Catacombs. When Pearl and John are on the River, the scene switches to an Owl perched on a tree overlooking a Rabbit. The Owl flies down and preys the rabbit. This foreshadowing shows Powell killing the children, or taking their money.
Although both stories end in death, the resolutions are quite different. The Cask of Amontillado’s resolution is Montressor sealing Fortunato’s death. He said that he had reconstructed the bones-and-marble rampart against the new mortar. They have been protected for over a hundred years by no one. In pace requiescat!” It gives some context to Montressor’s age, how long ago they occurred and his lack of remorse. The Night of the Hunter concludes with Powell being charged with murdering Willa Harper and other people, and also trying to kill Pearl or John to acquire their hidden funds. Rachael Cooper adopts Rachael and their children, and the ending is happy.
Since the 20th century, the Night of the Hunter has been a popular story. Both stories portray the themes of trusting no one and the deceiving power of looks. Both stories highlight the fact that even the most innocent of looks can turn out to be dangerous. Both the Night of the Hunter and the Cask of Amontillado use lighting in a way that conveys emotions and symbolism in a clever and well-thought out manner. These were two outstanding narratives which I highly recommend, especially the Night of the Hunter film version.