Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Explain why certain movements of the heart such as hatred toward another human being, lust or covetousness, are wrong? 50-100 wrdsthe_cask_of_amontillado.pdfAugustine-OnLyingwint - Very-Good Essays

Explain why certain movements of the heart such as hatred toward another human being, lust or covetousness, are wrong? 50-100 wrdsthe_cask_of_amontillado.pdfAugustine-OnLyingwint

Exlplain why certain movements of the heart such as hatred toward another human being, lust or covetousness, are wrong? 50-100 wrds



E d g a r A l l a n P o e

T h e C a s k o f A m o n t i l l a d o

foRTunaTo had huRT me a thousand times and I had suffered quietly. But then I learned that he had laughed at my proud name, Montresor, the name of an old and honored family. I promised myself that I would make him pay for this — that I would have revenge. You must not suppose, however, that I spoke of this to anyone. I would make him pay, yes; but I would act only with the greatest care. I must not suffer as a result of taking my revenge. A wrong is not made right in that manner. And also the wrong would not be made right unless Fortunato knew that he was paying and knew who was forcing him to pay.

I gave Fortunato no cause to doubt me. I continued to smile in his face, and he did not understand that I was now smiling at the thought of what I planned for him, at the thought of my revenge.

Fortunato was a strong man, a man to be feared. But he had one great weakness: he liked to drink good wine, and indeed he drank much of it. So he knew a lot about fine wines, and proudly believed that he was a trained judge of them. I, too, knew old wines well, and


E d g a r A l l a n P o e : S t o r y t e l l e r

I bought the best I could find. And wine, I thought, wine would give me my revenge!

It was almost dark, one evening in the spring, when I met Fortunato in the street, alone. He spoke to me more warmly than was usual, for already he had drunk more wine than was good for him. I acted pleased to see him, and I shook his hand, as if he had been my closest friend.

“Fortunato! How are you?” “Montresor! Good evening, my friend.” “My dear Fortunato! I am indeed glad that I have met you. I

was just thinking of you. For I have been tasting my new wine. I have bought a full cask of a fine wine which they tell me is Amontillado. But….”

“Amontillado! Quite impossible.” “I know. It does not seem possible. As I could not find you I

was just going to talk to Luchresi. If anyone understands wines it is Luchresi. He will tell me….”

“Luchresi? He does not know one wine from another!” “But they say he knows as much about wines as you know.” “Ho! — Come. Let us go.” “Go where?” “To your vaults. To taste the wine.” “No, my friend, no. I can see that you are not well. And the

vaults are cold and wet.” “I do not care. Let us go. I’m well enough. The cold is nothing.

Amontillado! Someone is playing games with you. And Luchresi! Ha! Luchresi knows nothing about wines, nothing at all.”

As he spoke, Fortunato took my arm, and I allowed him to hurry me to my great stone palace, where my family, the Montresors, had lived for centuries. There was no one at home. I had told the servants that they must not leave the palace, as I would not return until the following morning and they must care for the place. This, I knew, was enough to make it certain that they would all leave as soon as my back was turned.

I took down from their places on the wall two brightly burning lights. I gave one of these to Fortunato and led him to a wide doorway. There we could see the stone steps going down into the darkness.


E d g a r A l l a n P o e

Asking him to be careful as he followed, I went down before him, down under the ground, deep under the old walls of my palace. We came finally to the bottom of the steps and stood there a moment together. The earth which formed the floor was cold and hard. We were entering the last resting place of the dead of the Montresor fam- ily. Here too we kept our finest wines, here in the cool, dark, still air under the ground.

Fortunato’s step was not sure, because of the wine he had been drinking. He looked uncertainly around him, trying to see through the thick darkness which pushed in around us. Here our brightly burn- ing lights seemed weak indeed. But our eyes soon became used to the darkness. We could see the bones of the dead lying in large piles along the walls. The stones of the walls were wet and cold.

From the long rows of bottles which were lying on the floor, among the bones, I chose one which contained a very good wine. Since I did not have anything to open the bottle with, I struck the stone wall with it and broke off the small end. I offered the bottle to Fortunato.

“Here, Fortunato. Drink some of this fine Medoc. It will help to keep us warm. Drink!”

“Thank you, my friend. I drink to the dead who lie sleeping around us.”

“And I, Fortunato — I drink to your long life.” “Ahh! A very fine wine, indeed! But the Amontillado?” “It is farther on. Come.” We walked on for some time. We were now under the river’s bed,

and water fell in drops upon us from above. Deeper into the ground we went, past still more bones.

“Your vaults are many, and large. There seems to be no end to them.”

“We are a great family, and an old one. It is not far now. But I can see you are trembling with the cold. Come! Let us go back before it is too late.”

“It is nothing. Let us go on. But first, another drink of your Medoc!”

I took up from among the bones another bottle. It was another wine of a fine quality, a De Grâve. Again I broke off the neck of the


E d g a r A l l a n P o e : S t o r y t e l l e r

bottle. Fortunato took it and drank it all without stopping for a breath. He laughed, and threw the empty bottle over his shoulder.

We went on, deeper and deeper into the earth. Finally we arrived at a vault in which the air was so old and heavy that our lights almost died. Against three of the walls there were piles of bones higher than our heads. From the fourth wall someone had pulled down all the bones, and they were spread all around us on the ground. In the middle of the wall was an opening into another vault, if I can call it that — a little room about three feet wide, six or seven feet high, and perhaps four feet deep. It was hardly more than a hole in the wall.

“Go on,” I said. “Go in; the Amontillado is in there.”

Fortunato continued to go forward, uncertainly. I fol lowed him immediately. Soon, of course, he reached the back wall. He stood there a moment, facing the wall, surprised and wondering. In that wall were two heavy iron rings. A short chain was hanging from one of these and a lock from the other. Before Fortunato could guess what was happening, I closed the lock and chained him tightly to the wall. I stepped back.

“Fortunato,” I said. “Put your hand against the wall. You must feel how the water runs over it. Once more I ask you, please, will you not go back? No? If not, then I must leave you. But first I must do everything I can for you.”

“But…But the Amontillado?” “Ah, yes, yes indeed; the Amontillado.” As I spoke these words I began to search among the bones.

Throwing them to one side I found the stones which earlier I had taken down from the wall. Quickly I began to build the wall again, covering the hole where Fortunato stood trembling.

“Montresor! What are you doing!?”


E d g a r A l l a n P o e

I continued working. I could hear him pulling at the chain, shak- ing it wildly. Only a few stones remained to put in their place.

“Montresor! Ha-ha. This is a very good joke, indeed. Many times will we laugh about it — ha-ha — as we drink our wine together — ha-ha.”

“Of course. As we drink the Amontillado.” “But is it not late? Should we not be going back? They will be

expecting us. Let us go.” “Yes. Let us go.” As I said this I lifted the last stone from the ground. “Montresor! For the love of God!!” “Yes. For the love of God!” I heard no answer. “Fortunato!” I cried. “Fortunato.” I heard only

a soft, low sound, a half-cry of fear. My heart grew sick; it must have been the cold. 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!



Augustine’s views on lying, summarized in the following pages, are among the most influential words ever written on the subject. Written in 395 A.D., On Lying details his strict absolutist position: in every situation, no matter what the circumstances might be, lying is always wrong. Lying, says Augustine, is to bear false witness to the contents of one’s own mind, and since the Decalogue issues an unqualified condemnation of false witness, it can be properly said that the Ten Commandments prohibits all lying. While in today’s world this view may seem rather shocking, it has nonetheless remained the predominant Christian view for centuries, perhaps in part due to Augustine’s colossal status and unmatched influence in the Western World. What follows are excerpts from this short treatise, comprising approximately one third of the entire work. 1. The question “ What constitutes a lie? ” is important to our everyday lives because it can give us much trouble, since we might sometimes be tempted to call things lies which are not, or we might decide that we need to tell a certain lie out of a sense of honor, or duty, or even out of mercy. As such, I will treat this question here very carefully to seek the truth along with those who ask the same question. Whether or not I succeed in this task will be up to the attentive reader to decide. The problem I will address is indeed full of dark corners, and it often eludes the comprehension of the person seeking a solution, so that at one moment what was found seems to slip out of one's hands, only to be found again, but then it is once more lost to sight. In the end, however, the solution will be apparent to us. If there is any error in my presentation, I think that because truth frees one from all error and because lack of truth is the source of all error, it is better that the reader err on the side of excessive regard for the truth and hold fast to an equally emphatic rejection of all falsehood. People who find fault in this might say that taking on such an attitude is going too far. Truth, however, would say it is not taking things far enough. I ask you who read this not to find fault until you have read the entire work, because then you will have less to criticize. Yet do not look for impressive use of words. In my effort to probe as deeply as possible into the subtleties of the issue as it applies to daily life, I have paid very little attention to eloquence of speech. 2. In this short work, I have excluded the question of lies told when joking, which have never been considered real lies, since the tone of voice and the attitude of the joker signal that he means no deceit, even though the things he says are false. Whether or not this type of speaking should be used by a person striving for perfection is outside the scope of this work. Putting this


issue aside, the first question I will consider is whether it could be properly said that a person is lying when he is actually not telling a lie. 3. The first problem, then, involves what a lie really is, since it is clear that a person who says something false does not tell a lie if he believes, or at least assumes, what he says is true. There is a distinction between believing and assuming. Sometimes the person who believes realizes he does not fully understand what he believes, although by firmly believing it, he has no doubt about the things which he realizes he does not fully understand. On the other hand, he who assumes thinks he knows something, although he does not actually know it. Whoever speaks something which he either believes or assumes does not lie even if the statement is false. Such statements are expressions of one’s faith, and in what the person says, he is merely disclosing the contents of his mind, which he does his best to put into words. Yet even when he does not lie, he is still blameworthy if he believes something he should not believe or if he thinks he knows what he actually does not know, even if it is accidentally true, since he is considering something to be known which is actually not known by him. Instead, a man only lies if he has one thing in his mind and yet says something else, either in his words or by signs or other outward expressions. This is why the person who lies is said to have a double heart, or to be two-fold in thinking. One way this occurs is when a person chooses not to express what he knows or thinks to be true; the other is when a person expresses as true what he knows or thinks to be false. Therefore, a person may say something false and yet not be lying if he thinks things are as he says they are, even though in reality they are not so. Likewise, it may happen that a person is lying if he speaks as true what he believes is false, even if the actual truth is exactly what he says. This is because a lie is determined based upon the intention of the person’s mind, not based upon the truth or falsity of the words themselves. Therefore, a person who utters a false thing while saying it’s true may be called mistaken or rash but might not be lying, because at the moment he speaks he does not have a double heart and does not intend to deceive. Instead, he himself is deceived. What makes him guilty of a lie is the desire to deceive while expressing the contents of his mind. So when that person utters a falsehood, whether he has successfully deceived someone because he is believed or he has been unsuccessful because he is not believed or he has tried to deceive but has actually said something accidentally true, he is in each case nonetheless guilty of lying. In this last case, he certainly does not succeed in deceiving, unless he is wishing to deceive by trying to make his listeners think he knows what he is talking about… 5. … Let us now turn from this question upon which we all agree and inquire whether it is sometimes useful to utter a falsehood with the desire to deceive. Those who think lies can be beneficial often use the example of Sarah who, after she had laughed, denied that she had laughed to the Angels (cf. Gen 18:15); the example of Jacob when questioned by his father, who


answered that he was the elder son Esau (cf. Gen 27:19); and the example of the Egyptian midwives, who lied to save the Hebrew infants from being slain at their birth and who were commended by God for their lies (cf. Ex. 1:19-20). Pointing out examples of this sort, they make use of lies told by Biblical figures who no one would dare to blame, and by doing so they lead others to believe that some lies are not blameworthy and even worthy of praise. They add to this a special case which would convince not only those devoted to sacred Scripture, but all men, asking questions such as: “ If someone fled to you for protection and if you could free that person from death with a single lie, would you not tell that lie? ” If a sick person asked you a question and it be better that he not know the answer, and if he would be more grievously afflicted without you replying to him, wouldn’t you tell a noble and merciful lie to improve his weak health rather than either tell the truth or not answer and imperil the man's life? By these and similar arguments they think they’re convincing us that in certain instances we must lie in order to accomplish some good. 6. Contrary to this point of view, those who say we must never lie remain even more steadfast, appealing first to Divine authority, because in the Decalogue itself it says “ You shall not bear false witness ”(Ex 20:16). Under this precept, all lying is condemned, since whoever utters anything with his mouth bears witness to his own mind. Even if some might be unconvinced that every lie is an instance of false witness, what then will they say to this saying that is also in sacred Scripture: “ A lying mouth destroys the soul ” (Wis. 1:11)? If anyone would think that this scripture passage, too, is unconvincing, he can read in yet another place, “ You destroy those who speak lies” (Ps. 5:6). Even our Lord said with his own lips,“ Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one ” (Mt. 5:37) . The Apostle, when he directs that the “old man” be put off (which we understand to be all sinfulness), also says very clearly “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth ” (Eph. 4:25)… 9. …With even greater confidence do those who oppose all lying insist that daily life does not justify exceptions to the rule. They teach that lying is always sinful by using many examples from sacred Scripture, especially by pointing to the following verse: “ You hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies” (Ps. 5:5-6). Here, there are two possibilities. Either Scripture, as it usually does, explains the first verse with the one that follows, so evildoing has a wider meaning and we might understand lies to be a type of evildoing; or, if some think there is any difference between the two, then lying is so much worse since it comes after “ you destroy ” rather than “ you hate .” It may be that God hates a person to a lesser degree and so does not wish to destroy him, so we can assume the person He does want to destroy is the one He must hate even more, which is why He punishes that person more severely. He hates all who do evil , but He goes beyond that and destroys all who tell lies. If this is true, how many who assent to this nonetheless find


themselves shaken by extreme examples, such as when it is said, “ What if a person who flees to you can, by your lie, be saved from death? ” Yet this kind of death, which is foolishly feared by men who are nonetheless not afraid to sin, kills not the soul but the body. Our Lord himself teaches in the Gospel (Mt 10:28) that this is the wrong kind of death to be feared. Moreover, the mouth that lies kills not the body but the soul. These words are plainly written: “ A lying mouth destroys the soul ” (Wis. 1:11). Is it not a perverse thing to say, then, that it is one person’s duty to die spiritually so that another person might live bodily? Love of neighbor has as its limits a person’s love of himself. Our Lord says, “ You shall love… your neighbor as yourself ” (Lk 10:27). How can a person choose to love another person as he loves himself by preserving that person’s bodily life while losing his own eternal life? If a person destroys his bodily life to preserve the bodily life of another, he doesn’t love the other as himself, but more than himself, and thus he deviates from sound doctrine. Even more mistaken is the person, then, who by lying throws away his eternal life in order to save the bodily life of another. Of course a Christian would not hesitate to give up his bodily life for the sake of his neighbor's eternal life. In this way, our Lord has set the example by dying for us. Regarding this He says, “ This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends ” (Jn 15: 12-13). No one would be so foolish as to say that our Lord’s words provide anything other than the eternal salvation of men, whether it be following what he commanded or commanding what he did. Since eternal life is therefore lost by lying, it is never permissible to lie in order to save the bodily life of another. Some, nevertheless, become angry or even indignant if a person is unwilling to kill his own soul by telling a lie so that someone else might be able to grow a bit older in the flesh. Would these same people say we should commit theft or adultery to save someone from death? Should we therefore steal in order to commit adultery? These people do not realize what follows from such reasoning. They would have to say we ought to submit ourselves to a sinful man who threatens to hang himself if we were not to yield to his sexual advances. If this demand is both absurd and wicked, since the person who gave up his body to be defiled in this way would be found guilty of immorality at the final judgement, then why should someone corrupt his soul by lying so that another may prolong his bodily life? There is nothing further to be explored regarding this question, then, except whether lies are morally wrong. Although the answer to this is made clear in the Scripture passages above, there still remains the issue of the lie told to attain the salvation of another, which is the same question as to whether a man has a duty to act immorally in order to secure the salvation of another. Since eternal salvation would have us place conformity to the moral law not only before the bodily safety of another, but before even our own bodily safety, if the salvation of the soul rules out all lying, what other reason is there left for us to doubt that no lie must ever be told? There is no worldly good dearer to us than the safety and life of the body. So if truth should be preferred to


even the most desirable of worldly goods, what other argument can they use to convince us that it is sometimes right to lie?… 13. … Suppose there was a man willing to die a Christian martyr’s death because he would not bear false witness against Christ and refused to sacrifice to demons, but he learned that as a consequence another man would be put to death before his very eyes and that this man would be his own father. Suppose also that his father begged the man not to be so stubborn so as to cause his own father’s death. Isn’t it clear that the man, if he remained steadfast, would not be guilty of his father’s death, and that the oppressors alone would be the only murderers. Even if his father, a sacrilegious man destined for eternal punishment, was killed as a result of the martyr’s choice to not violate his faith by false testimony, his consent would nevertheless not make him guilty of this heinous crime because he refused to do the evil himself, regardless of what the oppressors threatened to do because of his refusal to comply with their wishes. What are these oppressors saying other than “ Do evil, or else we will do it? ” Just because our own wrongdoing would prevent them from doing an evil deed, this is not good reason to assist them by doing evil ourselves. Since they are truly doing an evil thing when they make such statements, why should we have to accompany them in their wickedness rather than let them be wicked by themselves? Our attitude must never be an attitude of consent, since we do not approve of what they do. Instead, we always desire to prevent them, and we try to prevent them using all means within our power; yet we avoid joining them in their evildoing and condemn all wrongdoing as strongly as we can. 14. Some might ask, “ If someone else’s act would prevent wrongdoers from committing their evil deed, how does he not share in their act? ” According to this line of reasoning, we are accomplices to the robbers breaking into a house because we did not leave the door open for them, and we share the guilt with murderers we knew were lying in wait to kill someone on the grounds that, had we arrived there first to kill the murderers, they would not have killed their victims. Or if a person tells us he intends to kill his father, we are guilty along with him if we are unable to prevent him by other means and therefore do not kill him first before he kills his father. In each case, the argument can be expressed in the same form: “ You shared his deed, since he would not have done it if you had done that other thing .” But I should wish that neither evil is accomplished. I should take measures only against the evil deed that is within my power to avoid. The other deed belongs to another, and if I am unable to dissuade him with my pleading, I am not duty-bound to commit another evil to impede him. In no way is a person approving of a sinner if he refuses to sin at his request. Neither crime pleases him, sin

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