Nemo me Impune Lacessit’: the Drive for Justice in “The Cask of Amontillado”

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Montresor’s Quest for Justice: The Insult and Revenge

Edgar Allan Poe created a theme surrounding many types of justice in “The Cask of Amontillado.” I concluded that the theme would be justice by how Montresor sought revenge, in how justice was served, and that justice is finally served in Montresor’s eyes. First, Montrsor is determined to get revenge on Fortunato for his wrongdoings. Poe States, “A thousand injuries of Fortunato I had Borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge” (Poe); in this statement, he is showing how hurt and angered he is by Montresor’s words and how he had now vowed revenge on him for such actions.

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Montresor states from the beginning that Fortunato has insulted him, along with all his injuries. He wanted justice for himself. “The story is told in the first person narrator who claims that Fortunato hurt him by insulting him” (Poe), clearly, but this only takes the readers in circles as they cannot tell the authenticity of Montresor’s claims. Even though this is not clear, he still plans to take revenge on Fortunato.

As the story progresses, Monstresor lures Fortunato to the catacomb of the Family house, where he keeps the wine and leads Fortunato deeper and deeper into the catacomb and makes him tank up along the way. Monstresor suggests that Fortunato is not fit to go deep; Fortunato is more focused on the Amontillado until he gets the giant hole that is part of the bricks, which symbolizes the casket that he was buried in and hence the name the Cask. The story’s title holds two symbols: the casket from the Cask and the Amontillado, representing the two bases of Fortunato’s death. He is very sloshed, and hitherto, he still agrees to go with Montresor because he knows that the trip will mean free wine or a demeaned Montresor.

Symbols and Significance: “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit”

The motto of the Montresor Family was another symbol that Fortunato would have needed. However, his love for wine did not allow him to read between the lines because he was focused on finding the Amontillado. “Nemo me impune lacessit” (Poe) meant that anyone who does anything questionable would be punished with impunity. The family’s emblem has the head of a serpent as it daggers into a leg. Montresor follows suit by destroying the serpent, killing Fortunato, who has been insulting him.

The characters’ names are one more form of symbolism that Poe uses to make the reader move further away from Fortunato, as the narrator is Montresor. Funtato represents the Fortunate, but whatever happens to him in the story does not mean being lucky because Motresor traps him and is then killed. Mostresor, on the other hand, means slow fate according to the romance languages, but he portrayed a different character. His pleasure comes from hurting other people, and he signifies revenge in other men’s eyes. His treasure lies in killing Fortunato, and he believes that for the freedom of one character, the other must be dead.


  1. Poe, E. A. (1846). The cask of Amontillado. [Short Story]. In Works of Edgar Allan Poe.
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Nemo Me Impune Lacessit’: The Drive for Justice in "The Cask of Amontillado". (2023, Aug 20). Retrieved from