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Short stories sample essay

1. In Poe`s story he tries to create an effect for the reader. What is it, and how does he create it?

The effect that Poe seeks to impart in the reader is how greed can lead to one’s downfall. This is created in the form of a cautionary tale where the victim’s blindness to danger puts him in a compromising position. To a great extent, Poe attempts to paint a picture of a descent into insanity that provides a number of morality lessons. In the tale, the narrator opts to wall a man alive for a perceived insult. The narrator is clearly insane, but he is still able to con his victim into a compromising position by playing to the greed and ego of the victim. That is, because the victim wishes to be a part of the elite club that tastes the Cask of Amontillado, he follows the narrator to what is eventually his death. This could have all been avoided had the victim not placed blind faith and trust in the narrator.

2. In Hawthorne`s story, the main character is an `everyman` character–a young, good man. What is the punishment he receives for going into the forest that night? Why is he always so gloomy afterward?

Essentially the punishment that Brown receives by following the Devil into the forest is that his perspective on the world is forever changed thanks to his experience. Because his journey teaches him that many of the people he knows are hypocrites and not what he previously believed them to be, Brown becomes “gloomily” cynical about life, society and people in general. In a way, his ultimate punishment is that he now must look at the world through the lens of a cynical existentialist and is no longer the man he once was. He has been changed by his own experiences due to an errant choice to visit the forest, a mistake he must now pay for the rest of his life.

3. In Mellville`s story, the narrator or story teller seems compelled to ask `Am I my brother`s keeper?` Why does he tell us this story and should he feel guilty about the outcome? Why does he?

Because of the absurd nature of the story, the narrator may be repeating the story out of a psychological compulsion to make sense of it. After all, Bartelby’s actions are beyond the norm and well into the realm of insanity. This ultimately leads to his death by starvation which the narrator attempted to circumvent by providing him money that was refused. In a way, it would seem that the narrator feels somewhat responsible for the weird situation that Bartelby finds himself largely because the narrator moved offices leaving Bartelby to the devices of the new landlords. As such, the narrator becomes absorbed by guilt. Should the narrator feel guilty? In a way, the narrator could have handled the situation better, but Bartelby’s fate was decided by him own actions and no one else’s. After all, Bartelby could have moved from the office when asked. Then again, he is insane.

4. Hemingway uses the scenery to reflect the argument between the two characters? How does that work?

In a way, the scenery is used so that the characters do not have to truly engage themselves. Their conversation often travels in circles and does not really directly tackle the subject at hand. They never make eye contact and they are constantly looking away at the scenery. This allows the argument to perpetuate because they never truly engage each other. From this, Hemingway provides a clear insight into the problems with confrontation and communication and shows that conflict that is never addressed is never reconciled.

5. In O`Connor`s story, Why does the killer say that last line after killing the old woman?

“It’s no real pleasure in life.” This is the last line of O’Conner’s short story and it provides a unique insight into both the killer and society in general. This derives from the sequence of events that drives The Misfit to killing the character of the very dislikable grandmother. In a way, The Misfit’s murder of the old woman frees her from the shackles of the miserable life she endures and The Misfit’s ending of her suffering is, in a way, a welcome relief. However, with that last line, The Misfit acknowledges that the entire course of events could have been avoided had the women’s attitude had not been one of what was essentially self-loathing. In short, she should not have descended into a mental state that welcomed a mercy killing.

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