Cask Of Amontillado“The Cask of Amontillado”
The author of “The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allan Poe, lets us know in the opening sentence that the character telling the story, Montresor, vows revenge. Montresor’s target of revenge is Fortunato, but Montresor never specifically says what Fortunato did to him or his family. However, Montresor’s fear of Fortunato avenging any threat of revenge leads us to believe his plan is well thought out and executed in a very matter of fact way. Seeking this revenge on Fortunato has not made Montresor feel guilty for what he has done. It seems as if revenge is just part of his nature.
Throughout the story, it seems as if Montresor has every bit of his revenge on Fortunato planned out. He could not have chosen a better time or place to commit his act of revenge. He knows that during carnival season, or as we know it Mardi Gras, everyone in town will be dressed in a costume with a mask, drinking, and not paying attention to much that is going on outside of the carnival. Montresor knows that Fortunato will be at the carnival and more than likely drinking.
Another part of Montresor’s plan is to use reverse psychology. The story reads, “I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house.” Montresor says this because he knows that his servants will also want to celebrate at the carnival so if they know he will not be there they will leave. Montresor used this psychology a few times on Fortunato. As Fortunato began to cough heavily, Montresor says, “We will go back; your health is precious…you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchresi-.” Montresor is not at all worried about Fortunato’s cough. Montresor chooses wine because he knows that it is something Fortunato is interested in and that he is extremely proud of his knowledge of it. During their discussion, Montresor plays to Fortunato’s arrogance by comparing his abilities to Luchresi. Montresor sounds concerned about Fortunato’s health up until his final act of revenge.
Montresor’s family crest is a human foot crushing a serpent. The family motto reads, “No one challenges me with impunity.” This translates into Montresor being the human foot that is crushing Fortunato. Montresor did not let Fortunato get away with whatever insult he gave to him. This is what makes revenge part of Montresor’s nature. If this were what he believes in, then of course he would not feel guilty about it. Montresor says to Fortunato, “You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy as I once was.” This could lead a reader to believe that Montresor killed Fortunato because it made him feel more powerful. That may have been what made him happy. Perhaps that is why he took his precious time putting the last stone in the wall. He was enjoying what he had done.
Montresor’s well-planned and executed act of revenge still sounds so matter of fact some fifty years later as he is telling his story to someone. As he is finishing the story, he points out that no one has run across the rock walled tomb where he left Fortunato. Montresor does not seem to convey any guilt as he finishes his story with, “May he rest in peace!”