English 3312C Fall 2020 HW#2 OEDIPUS the KING Topic: What is the Purpose of “The Jocasta Scene”? (Lines 709-953) As a “model” for the form of your essay, you are encouraged to use the three-paragraph format employed in the sample essay on “The Cask of Amontillado.” Paragraph One: A “Statement” of the “tragic arc” of Oedipus: “Sophocles’ Oedipus the King is a play about a ________, ______, ______ man who….” Paragraph Two: Quote directly and paraphrase from the scene, paying special attention to the speeches of Jocasta. Paragraph Three: Answer the question by showing how this scene is an organic and necessary part of the tragedy. This essay is due by 10PM, Sunday, October 13th.
Writing the Argumentative, Three-paragraph Essay.
Dear Students. You will soon be writing your first essay.
To help you with that task (as well as with the writing of each of the essays that follow,) you are here provided with a sample, “Three-paragraph Essay” on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Cask of Amontillado”; the topic: “What is the purpose of the trowel scene?”
——Read this short story in a book, online, or impressed on a clay tablet.——-
When you finish, ask yourself the following questions:
1) Who is the Protagonist?
2) From what point-of-view is the story written?
3) What is it “about” (theme)?
Answer to question #1: Montresor.
Answer to question #2: First-Person.
Answer to question #3: You will have to think about this one.
(Ask and answer each of the above questions for each essay assignment.)
Sample Essay on Poe’s Short Story: “The Cask of Amontillado”
Topic: The Purpose of the “Trowel Scene” in Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.”
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is the story of a proud, clever, vengeful man, who obsessed with the claim that the loss of his former happiness is the fault of a man whose condition he envies, attempts to restore that happiness by plotting and successfully carrying out the murder of that man—only two discover that this act of vengeance (the success of which depends on its “impunity”) has, ironically, resulted in his half-century of guilt and unhappiness.
About midway in the story, when the protagonist, Montresor, is leading his “enemy,” Fortunato, deep into the catacombs, he speaks: “The Nitre!” I said; “see, it increases. It hangs upon the vaults.. We are below the river’s bed….Come, we will go back ere it is too late.” Fortunato refuses, “It is nothing,” he said. I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grave. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light.” Fortunato gestures during a toast: “His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.” Montresor is puzzled: “I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement—a grotesque one.” Fortunato then asks him if he is ”not of the brotherhood…You are not of the masons?” (i.e., a member of the Masonic Order).
“Yes, yes,” I said; “yes, yes.”
“You? Impossible! A Mason?”
“A mason,” I replied.
Fortunato demands “a sign.”
“It is this,” Montresor answers, and produces “from beneath the folds of (his) roquelaire a trowel.” “You jest,” Fortunato exclaims, “recoiling a few paces. But let us proceed to the Amontillado.” The trowel, it turns out, is what Montresor will use to wall up Fortunato, to bury him alive in the hastily erected “tomb,” and in that moment, believing he has achieved the vengeance that he had so eagerly sought.
The purpose of the trowel scene is both to foreshadow as well as compound the irony inherent in Montresor’s “revenge.” A trowel is used in construction. It is a building tool. It is with this tool that Montresor hopes to reclaim his happiness—to reconstruct, as it were, the happiness he believes was destroyed by Fortunato. (It is significant that we are never told just what “injuries by Fortunato” that Montresor had “borne.”) Montresor’s act of mockery and hubris in showing Fortunato the tool to be used in his destruction shows just how confident he is in his plot to commit the murder, and incidentally, reveals the murder weapon well before it is to used—always a good thing. Furthermore, as the trowel is used as that weapon, it becomes at least as “grotesque” as the gesture made by the “Unfortunate Fortunato,” the “innocent” tool used to perform an evil act. Having successfully carried out his crime, Montresor mocks with his own screams those of his victim’s; but Montresor’s mockery of Fortunato returns to mock him; and after completing his “perfect crime,” he attempts to rationalize his emotions, to make them appear natural: “My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so.” And, fifty years later, he is still haunted by his crime: having imprisoned the wretched Fortunato all those years ago, he has only succeeded in imprisoning himself in his own misery. Indeed, his final prayer, “Requiescat in pace,” might be seen as a hapless plea for his own inner peace.
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