Edgar Allan Poe’s the Cask of Amontillado Essay
“Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado expresses enigmatic themes of desire and human complexity. The protagonist desires revenge on an acquaintance through premeditated murder. Although conversely, that is only on the surface. Montresor’s needs and desires are that of something beyond vengeance.
It is known that our narrator and protagonist Montresor, seeks vengeance against Fortunato for the insults and “”the thousand injuries”” he felt had been done to him. Although, Montresor never clarifies how Fortunato degrades him nor backs it up with any evidence of it ever actually occurring. The lack of evidence that accompanies Montresor’s claims despite wanting to act out his revenge, shows how deluded and unreliable his perspective is. He is honest about his actions, but they are not sufficient —enough— to justify immolating someone. Furthermore, his vengeance is shrouded around the motto “”No one attacks me with impunity””(246). So, in one way, he feels obligated to act out this subsequent retaliation because he believes that no one should be able to insult him without the worry of punishment. Now, according to Carl Jung’s theory on personality, the Shadow is the unconscious side of a person that is comprised of the qualities we condemn, or we may feel guilty about. The aspects of our personality that may be considered ‘inferior’ can be self-destructive or projected on to other people. With that in mind, Montresor’s “”shadow”” was unconsciously emerging and projecting his insecurities on to Fortunato to protect his livelihood. The preconceived notion that Montresor must settle this “dispute” by killing and blame-shifting Fortunato without ever confronting him, only further proves that point.
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Montresor speaks constantly of Fortunato as his “friend” throughout the ordeal. This is an interesting choice of diction especially considering how he was planning to kill him. In order to conceal his true feelings, Montresor wears a certain persona— “a mask of black silk”—around Fortunato. This persona derives from his need to show integrity in order to commit actions that he would not been able to otherwise. Thus, concealing his negative traits and thoughts that contradict his Persona in order to get what he believes he desires. Montresor manipulates Fortunato by promising him a sample of Amontillado wine and tricks him into believing that he is looking out for his best interest. By taking advantage of Fortunato’s drunken state, it becomes clear how merciless Montresor is behind his smile.
In truth, Montresor covets for an unburdened consequence, in which he would not suffer for his own pseudo need for vengeance. Just before he left the catacombs, there is one brief moment where Montresor shows a point of reflection as his “heart grew sick” only to blame it on “the dampness of the catacombs” (248). He is ultimately shown to be unforgiving and callous however, this type of sickness only comes from his conscience because he knew he had done something immorally wrong. Montresor needs to stop hiding behind the act of revenge and understand that in order to resolve a conflict, he must face the problem as opposed to avoiding it. He must develop a stronger conscious of his own darkness.”