Essay about ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe
In the story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, the theme of revenge forms a great deal of the story. Montresor is the main character and narrator of the story. The story starts with the narration of his insult by Fortunato, his friend. “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge “(Poe). However, we are not told of the actual offense which made Montresor plot deadly revenge against his acquaintance. He applies a deceptive tactic to plot revenge to lead Fortunato to his unexpected death. Montresor uses his hurt feelings as the driving force to fuel his revenge. This paper will discuss how Montresor uses deceit to advance his agenda of revenge.
Montresor has a cunning nature that is used in plotting revenge. The friendship between Fortunato and Montresor has helped the narrator to paint a picture of deception. “I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation” (Poe). The friendship makes Fortunato unsuspecting that Montresor is leading him to a trap in which will cause his demise. The friendship has such history that Montresor has the advantage of knowing Fortunato liked to drink and plans to catch him at a time when he is vulnerable. “He had a weak point-this Fortunato-although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared” (Poe). Montresor manipulates Fortunato in his drunken state and has him accompany him to his vaults by stroking his ego and requesting is expertise in Amontillado. Fortunato was more than willing to oblige because this he thought was for his friend.
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Montresor continues to use his cleverness and deceptive nature by telling his servants not to move about the house knowing they would do the opposite. “I had told them that I should not return until the morning and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house” (Poe). This leaves a window of opportunity to carry out his revenge without witness. Montresor’s deceptive nature and Fortunato’s ego and drunken condition made Fortunato suspect nothing out of the ordinary. Edgar reveals irony in the story through the theme of revenge. It is ironic that Montresor finds relief in Fortunato’s death although his friend’s death denies him retribution. It can be foretold that Fortunato’s death will make Montresor have no peace. He tries to convince Fortunato to turn back due to illness which shows his gullibility. Montresor risks Fortunato agreeing with his suggestion. He takes a risk in killing his friend although he appears to be fairly confident with his decision.
Manipulation remains a constant factor even until the end of the story in helping Montresor’s agenda of revenge to be successful. He has internal conflict but instead considers his perception as entirely right and regards himself as a victim. His convictions justify his plan of revenge discounting infringement. He considers killing his friend as a way of punishing him while he goes unpunished. For a moment there is a sense of remorse, “For a brief moment I hesitated, I trembled” (Poe). This is quickly overpowered by the theme of revenge, more deceit later tossing a torch in the built wall of the cask with Fortunato resulting in his demise.
- James, Missy, et al. “The Cask of Amontillado” Reading Literature and Writing Argument. 6th ed., Pearson, 2016, p.107-119.