Poe's Short Stories

Repression of Sexuality in “The Cask of Amontillado” College

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” features a unique symbolism of the repression of homosexual desire and of the damaging effects of a society that promotes repressive behavior. This short story details the process of imprisoning that which the narrator despises—both literally and metaphorically. Yet a queer analytical lens brings the figurative homoerotic undertones of the tale to light; focusing predominantly on sexuality illuminates the metaphorical imprisonment and repression of the narrator’s same-sex desires. Ultimately, the narrator suppresses his sexuality and displaces his hatred onto Fortunato due to societal pressures, thus acting to stifle something considered taboo and heinous.

Queer theory analyzes the role of sexuality in literary works and its influence on characters’ identities. Whether a character’s sexuality is blatantly stated, subtlety alluded to, or completely ignored in a text, its presence or lack thereof presents an intriguing analytical lens through which to dissect a piece of literature. Johanna Smith’s article “What Are Gender Criticism and Queer Theory” describes queer theory as an “emphasis on sexuality and on its broader insistence that the multifaceted and fluid character of identity...

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