There are plenty of short stories out in the world and no story is ever identical to another. For example, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, and “The Tell Tale Heart” are very different compared to James Hurst’s “The Scarlet Ibis” and O’Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” These stories differ in point of view, conflicts, themes, and symbols.
Many stories are written in different kinds of point of view. Most of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories had first person narratives. “The Cask of Amontillado” was told through the protagonist’s point of view. The protagonist of this story was, Montresor, a man who was scheming revenge. “The Fall of the House of Usher” was also told through the protagonist. Although this protagonist remained nameless, he led us through his crazy experience at the House of Usher. “The Tell Tale Heart” was told through the protagonist as well. This protagonist also remained unnamed, but revealed to us his murderous schemes.
Short stories written by other authors are “The Scarlet Ibis” and “The Gift of the Magi.” “The Scarlet Ibis” was told through the eyes of Doodle’s brother. Throughout the story he showed us the way he mistreated his brother and how he regrets it. “The Gift of the Magi” was told through a third person narrative.This narrator showed us the sacrifices made by both Jim and Della through time.
Each story also has a conflict within it. In “The Cask of Amontillado” the conflict was that Fortunato was disrespecting the Montresor family name. Montresor grew furious over time and wanted Fortunato to pay. The conflict in “The Fall of the House of Usher” is the condition of Roderick. Our narrator notices the fear and anxiety of Roderick and how it affects the environment around him.
“‘I shall die,’ he said. ‘I shall die! I must die of this fool’s sickness. In this way, this way and no other way, I shall be lost. I fear what will happen in the future, not for what happens, but for the result of what happens. I have, indeed, no fear of pain, but only fear of its result — of terror! I feel that the time will soon arrive when I must lose my life, and my mind, and my soul, together, in some last battle with that horrible enemy: feaR (Poe 3) !’”
In “The Tell Tale Heart”, the conflict was the narrator’s hatred for the man’s “vulture” eye. He hated the man’s eye much he decided to come up with an awful scheme to murder the man.
“When the old man looked at me with his vulture eye a cold feeling went up and down my back; even my blood became cold. And so, I finally decided I had to kill the old man and close that eye forever (Poe 1-2) !”
In “The Scarlet Ibis”, the conflict was Doodle’s brother and lack of love for him. Doodle’s brother was ashamed of Doodle and eventually bullied him to death. In “The Gift of the Magi”, the conflict is that Jim and Della want to get each other a gift but in order to do that they had to sacrifice. They got each other gifts but only to realize that they had both given away the things that the other bought the gift for.
A theme is the moral behind the story. The theme of “The Cask of Amontillado” was that your addictions can lead you to your death. In the story Fortunato was addicted to wine and his addiction led him to go down into the chamber and eventually to his death. The theme for “The Tell Tale Heart” was that guilt can drive you into madness. Once the narrator killed the man, his guilt began to eat away at him. Over time he slipped into madness and completely lost it.
The theme for “The Scarlet Ibis” was that cruelty kills. Doodle’s brother bullied Doodle because he was different from himself. His actions cost Doodle’s life and he had to live with that his whole life. The theme for “The Gift of the Magi” was that love is selfless. Jim and Della both sold their prize possessions in order to get a gift for one another. They wanted to get these gifts for each other because they wanted to express their love for one another. They both showed selflessness.
Symbols are ways we can identify each story through a certain object. For “The Cask of Amontillado” the symbol would be bones. They were blocking the brick wall which was in front of the chamber where Fortunato spent his last minutes in.
“ I hurried to force the last stone into its position. And I put the old bones again in a pile against the wall. For half a century now no human hand has touched them. May he rest in peace (Poe, 5) !”
In “The Fall of the House of Usher” the symbol would be the house. This was because the house was described as very unsettling and that was the same for Roderick’s behavior. The symbol for “The Tell Tale Heart”would be a vulture’s eye. The “vulture” eye was the whole reason behind the narrator killed the old man. Therefore it played a large role in the story line.
A symbol for “The Scarlet Ibis” would be the Scarlet Ibis. The Scarlet Ibis was very much like Doodle, it was different. The way the Ibis died foreshadowed how Doodle died in the end.
“I began to weep, and the tear-blurred vision in red before me looked very familiar. ‘Doodle!’ I screamed above the pounding storm and threw my body to the earth above his. For a long time, it seemed forever, I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain (Hurst, 6) .”
A symbol for “The Gift of the Magi” would be Della’s comb. It represents how Della sacrificed her hair and no longer needs that comb. It also represents how Jim sacrificed his prized possession to please Della.
Overall, “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Tell Tale Heart”, “The Scarlet Ibis”, and “The Gift of the Magi.” differ in point of view, conflicts, themes, and symbols.