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Revenge: A Bittersweet Victory

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This story of the most heinous revenge is, like all stories by Edgar Allen Poe, very open to interpretation. One thing that cannot be disputed, though, is the theme. The fundamental theme of The Cask of Amontillado is revenge. While the reasons the main character, Montresor, desires revenge are rather unclear, the reasons for his motivation are not. The way he executes his plans also exemplifies a clever use of deception to amplify his vengeance. Unfortunately, though, the aftermath of his actions proved far less gratifying than what he foresaw. These elements of revenge consume this story in the usual vague and mysterious manner which we so often see with Poe.

Because this story is told in first person perspective from Montresor’s point of view, we cannot be completely sure what it is that Fortunato did to him, if anything at all. Montresor simply states that Fortunato insulted him. At one point, when speaking to Fortunato, Montresor claims, “you are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was.” By saying this, he implied that whatever it was Fortunato did to him, it made him lose those qualities of his life, causing him to be unhappy. Montresor implicates further blame when he informs Fortunato that, “the Montresors . . . were a great and numerous family.” This is the real concern for Montresor because he has a great pride in his family. This leads the reader to believe that Fortunato not only insulted Montresor, but his family as well.

This suggests that Montresor may be trying to avenge his family by killing Fortunato. This is further exemplified by the Montresor family motto, “nemo me impune lacessit,” which translates to, “no one dare attack me with impunity.” Here lies the main reason for Montres...

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...s story there are many different themes, the one which stands on its own is revenge. The need for revenge is what consumed Montresor to the point of insanity. The method by which he obtained vengeance was brilliant, yet horrific. However, the perfection of the plan’s execution could not prevent his feelings of pity once Fortunato’s spirit had been broken. It can be seen from this story that revenge, though often a tempting solution, is never the best one. Revenge will never completely solve a problem and more often than not, it will make the problem worse.

Works Cited

Barnet, Sylvan, William Burto, and William E. Cain. An Introduction to Literature. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006

Delaney, Bill. "Poe's THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO." The Explicator 64, no. 1 (2005): 33-35.

Platizky, Roger. "Poe's The Cask of Amontillado." The Explicator 57, no. 4 (1999): 206-209.
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