DQ # 6 – “The Cask of Amontillado”

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Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado” is a dark and foreboding tale about a man’s insatiable appetite for revenge, and his descent into madness. The story itself is a very macabre tale, no doubt, but is there a deeper, darker meaning? Looking at the symbols and references in the story and with the tragedy that surrounded the author for most his life, it would not be too far a stretch. What this tale could really be representing, is a small insight at what Poe saw in the worst of people. Deceit, murder, simple mindedness, hate, and untrustworthiness; all very primal feelings, with the exception of murder, reside in each and every individual. Readers, in fact, are more or less familiar with these emotions to an extent; Poe however displays what havoc these feelings can have on the human psyche. This short brings out what the author thought was the worst in people, a person driven only by the most cruel, yet innate emotions to attain a goal for their personal benefit.
Montresor was the individual that Poe saw fit to invoke these characteristics to, and throughout the story display the changes he goes through as a result of them. These characteristics are first seen when Montresor vows revenge on his rival, Fortunato for a simple insult. Of course, this revenge is the murder of his rival. However, before proceeding any further, an important note should be made, that is, the beginning of Montresor’s descent into insanity as a result of these uncontrollable emotions. This idea is apparent when Montresor goes about plotting the perfect revenge (murder). The narrator, Montresor wants to not only get away with killing his rival, but he wants to do so in a way that prevents the man from knowing of the narrator’s cruel ...

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...the points mentioned if one was to go back to the question is there a deeper, darker meaning to Poe’s fiction “The Cask of Amontillado”? It would be hard to argue no when the very characters in the story are walking, talking personifications of these characteristics. These people represent the worst in humanity, engaging in murder, betrayal, and many other heinous things. In fact, one could even suggest that Poe seeing these things in everyday society is what inspired him to write this tale. Maybe a wrong was done to him that went unjust, and this story is just his fantasy of getting revenge on that person. Could it be that Poe wrote this story as a kind of statement telling of a scenario of unkempt emotions and tempers? Who knows? The fact remains, whatever the case maybe behind the writing of this story there is no doubt that it is a dark and very disturbing tale.

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