Theme of Revenge in Poe's 'The Cask Of Amontillado'

Theme of Revenge in Poe's 'The Cask Of Amontillado'

Length: 1382 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The perfect revenge is an action so many scorned have attempted and what so many more have lusted after. Apt punishment for the offender, success without being discovered and fulfillment without regret are all elements for satisfactory vengeance. All were present in "The Cask of Amontillado." However, despite Montresor's actions seeming to be perfect, he does not fulfill the criteria for flawless revenge. Poe doesn't quite allow readers to feel convinced of his main character's peace of mind. Subtle indications are strewn throughout the story that suggest otherwise. Though Montresor intended to cleanse his honor of Fortunato's insults, it may very well be that he only succeeded in creating, for himself, a guilty conscience, forever depriving himself of the sweetness of revenge.
"The Cask of Amontillado" is told in the first person by Montresor. In the opinion of John Gruesser, Montresor who "lies on his deathbed, confessing his crime to an old friend, the You' of the story's first paragraph" (129) is signifying his guilt fifty years after the murder. It does not appear that he is disclosing this sin to someone out of revel, but rather out of regret. It is highly unlikely that he is still experiencing the murderous level of hatred for a foe who is now just the pathetic skeletal remains of a man who met his demise on account of the drink he loved.
Gruesser further speculates that Montresor may in fact be speaking to a priest to relieve his conscience of the dread he experienced each day since he murdered Fortunato (130). Such a theory is further demonstrated when Montresor calmly echoes Fortunato's exclamation, "For the Love of God" (Poe, 1597). Fortunato is not just crying for mercy during the last few moments that he has a chance. He is also warning Montresor to think of his own demise and the next world thereafter (Delaney, 130). Therein lies the source of Montresor's half a century of dread. He was so blinded by his hatred and lust for revenge that he failed to think of his own soul. Only when it is too late does he realize to how great of an extent he may have actually affected his own life.
Furthermore, just as Fortunato's words may have caused Montresor years of distress, as does both characters fulfillment of Montresor's coat of arms. Montresor is the heel, crushing and ending the life of a serpent, which fittingly represents Fortunato.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Theme of Revenge in Poe's 'The Cask Of Amontillado'." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Jul 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=168974>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Paradox of Revenge in Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado Essay

- The Paradox of Revenge in Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado ?The Cask of Amontillado. raises a question pertaining to the multiple character of the self (Davidson 202); Can harmony of one's self be restored once primal impulses have been acted upon. This question proposes the fantasy of crime without consequence (Stepp 60). Edgar Allan Poe uses first person point of view, vivid symbolism and situational irony to show that because of man's inner self, revenge is ultimately not possible....   [tags: Cask Amontillado Poe Essays]

Research Papers
1369 words (3.9 pages)

Theme of Revenge in Poe's 'The Cask Of Amontillado' Essay

- The perfect revenge is an action so many scorned have attempted and what so many more have lusted after. Apt punishment for the offender, success without being discovered and fulfillment without regret are all elements for satisfactory vengeance. All were present in "The Cask of Amontillado." However, despite Montresor's actions seeming to be perfect, he does not fulfill the criteria for flawless revenge. Poe doesn't quite allow readers to feel convinced of his main character's peace of mind. Subtle indications are strewn throughout the story that suggest otherwise....   [tags: Edgar Allen Poe]

Free Essays
1382 words (3.9 pages)

Revenge in Edgar Allen Poe´s The Cask of Amontillado Essays

- ... We can learn about his personality through his motives and actions as the story progresses. Fortunato’s immolation was not spontaneous as Montresor had been planning his revenge. This tells us that he is cunning as he strategically sets up Fortunato for his death. He had designed every detail so that he would be alone with Fortunato. Montresor had told his attendants at the home that he shall be leaving and had directed them not to leave while he was gone. However as soon as he was gone they all left like Montresor had expected....   [tags: psychotic, personality, actions, motives]

Research Papers
553 words (1.6 pages)

The Cask Of Amontillado : Revenge And The Human Soul Essay

- “The Cask of Amontillado ": Revenge & the Human Soul In "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe, the guilt-ridden Montresor reveals, a dark secret, that he tortured and murdered Fortunato. Fortunato 's ill-fate stems from Montresor 's intense hatred and immoral desire to "punish [Fortunato] with impunity. (Poe 740)", for his past transgression. Montresor believes, "A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes the redresser. (Poe740)" Montresor must inflict a suffering as great as the suffering Fortunato has inflicted upon him....   [tags: Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado, Guilt]

Research Papers
879 words (2.5 pages)

Revenge in Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillad Essay

- Revenge in Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado In the story "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, he writes about a man named Montressor who for some reason (one that we do not know) vows revenge on a well respected and even feared guy named Fortunato, to better understand the story though you will want to know about the author Edgar Allen Poe. Edgar Allen Poe has been a huge influence to many writers in short stories....   [tags: Edgar Allan Poe Cask Amontillado]

Research Papers
1394 words (4 pages)

The Cycle of Justice and Revenge: The Cask of Amontillado Essay

- One’s pride can either lead to justice or to revenge depending on the morals of the actions taken. In Edgar Allan Poe’s terrifying fictional short story “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montresor murders the narcissistic Fortunato to at first repair and then avenge his family’s honor and is solidified by renowned scholar Elena V. Baraban’s “The Motive for Murder in ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe.” Throughout the story Poe navigates the paths of justice and revenge through restoring honor to the noble Montresor family name....   [tags: Edgar Allan Poe, literary analysis]

Research Papers
967 words (2.8 pages)

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe Essay

- The short story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe represents two key themes: pride and revenge. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” This story shows that Montresor, the narrator, rejects this thought and believes that revenge, even if deadly is the best way to get back at Fortunato. In “The Cask of Amontillado” Poe uses the pride and honor of Fortunato to find a way to achieve the revenge that Montresor desperately craves....   [tags: Pride, Revenge, Literary Themes, Analysis]

Research Papers
1446 words (4.1 pages)

Essay on The Cask Of Amontillado By Edgar Allan Poe

- A grudge towards someone is really hard to overcome usually, especially towards someone that you really trusted. Usually the grudge towards someone goes away at some point. The pain or betrayal may not always be forgotten but forgiven instead. Edgar Allan Poe describes this in the short story “The Cask of the Amontillado.” Poe in the “The Cask of the Amontillado” argues through characters and setting that pride and revenge can be destructive. Through characters, symbols, and the setting Poe tells the story of “The Cask of Amontillado” that revenge is driven by pride....   [tags: Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado]

Research Papers
1016 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on The Cask Of Amontillado By Edgar Allan Poe

- Edgar Allan Poe, a famous American writer and a poet, had written several short stories such as “William Wilson,” “The Fall of the House and Usher,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and poems such as “The Bells” and “The Raven,” which was one of the most famous poems ever written in English. There is always something different about Poe’s writing. Most of the classical murders make a person ask “who’s done it?” but his writings such as “The Cask of Amontillado” makes one ask the why question “why did he [Montresor] do it?” (Baraban)....   [tags: Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado]

Research Papers
1035 words (3 pages)

Haunting Confession of Revenge and Murder in The Cask of Amontillado Essay

- The haunting confession of revenge and murder Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is a horror story about revenge and murder that occurred half a century ago. Through the haunting confession of the narrator, Montresor, the reader is able to feel what Fortunato had endured half a century ago. In this tale of revenge and murder the dark, damp, and bone-filled catacombs provide a contrast to life during the “madness of the carnival” (553). Through the acts, thoughts, and words of the protagonists Montresor, the reader is able to feel the psychological torment that Fortunato is about to endure....   [tags: Edgar Allen Poe]

Research Papers
956 words (2.7 pages)

However, in the serpent's last few moments, it bites the heel, sinking its venom into its assassin. Walter Stepp put it more eloquently: "… the emblem represents a scene of mutual destruction. Allegorically speaking, the foot and the serpent are locked together in a death embrace: neither can escape" (448). While Montresor may have ended Fortunato's life, Montresor was forever inflicted with the metaphorical venom Fortunato imposed in the last moments.
Even as Montresor beckons Fortunato down into the catacombs, there is evidence foretelling that he will not leave with his anticipated peace of mind. Montresor provides his victim with constant opportunities to turn around. Upon Fortunato's fit of coughing, Montresor feigns concern. Though it is evidently sarcasm, and obvious that Montresor is playing with Fortunato, he still took that chance. He keeps providing him with chances to escape his fate, and though he is fairly confident Fortunato will not return to the party, it nonetheless is still a risk. If Montresor was as dead set on his mission as he expressed, he would not have allowed the slightest hint of returning cross his lips.
Even if Fortunato had consented to abandon the promised amontillado, it would still be impossible for Montresor to undo everything, regardless of how far it had escalated. If he had forced Fortunato to return after his fit of coughing Montresor would have probably again been subjected to Fortunato's insults. Throughout the story, Fortunato unwittingly insults Montresor again and again, as in when he scoffs at the idea of Montresor being a mason. Were Montresor to experience more insults, his fury would emerge renewed. Or, perhaps Montresor would have had a change of heart once he witnessed the terror in Fortunato's eyes upon being chained. Even then, he could have faced imprisonment or even execution. Montresor had to realize that there would be no turning back once he set in motion the actions of revenge.
It is in the last paragraph of the tale that the reader can seriously begin to doubt if Montresor accomplished his goal; that is, of avenging his honor with a clear conscience and feelings of justification, not just avenging successfully. Just before placing the last stone that will imprison Fortunato forever, Montresor calls out to him a few times but receives only a "jingling of the bells" (Poe, 1597) in reply. In recalling the moment to his friend or priest, Montresor claims that "my heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so" (Poe, 1597).There would really be no purpose to mention such a feeling if it were just on account of the catacombs. It was possibly a blunder in Montresor's case, revealing his buried guilt, something that he had to quickly eradicate by blaming the atmosphere of the catacombs.
Furthermore, he claimed that he had to force the last stone into place. It was difficult not just physically but emotionally as well. The onset of the story, where he discusses his absolute need for vengeance, would lead the reader to believe he would = thrust the last stone into place in a joyous manner. But that was not so. Again, perhaps it goes back to knowing he could not undo what he had done. Therefore, even if he found the final stone to be a struggle, he still needed to finish the task not for vengeance's sake but for his own well being.
In Poe's review of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales, he explains that all stories need to have a "preestablised design" (Delaney, 40) that produce one effect, which can be complex and not limited to one emotion. In "The Cask of Amontillado," solely revenge was not complex enough. Therefore, the story needed to include how the actions affected Montresor beyond satisfaction over unredressing a wrong. Upon punishing Fortunato, Montresor is now capable of feeling pity for him and possibly regret (Delaney, 40). The compassion Montresor felt for his victim fifty years after the crime is evident when he says that no one has disturbed the remains of Fortunato. It is significant that he used disturbed rather than discovered. Montresor placed him there, so it could signify that he considers himself the sole "conscientious custodian" (Delaney, 40) of Fortunato's body. Furthermore, the last line of the tale, which is in Latin, translates to "may he rest in peace." It's possible that is not sarcasm but genuine. Even if that ownership of Fortunato, as well as compassion for him, and guilt over his death did not arise immediately, Poe was wise enough to realize that the narrator is a changed man half a century after his crime. Montresor is no longer the same man that entombed Fortunato fifty years before and, as aforementioned, couldn't possibly harbor the same ill feelings towards him (Delaney, 41).
The single effect in "The Cask of Amontillado" was not just vengeance, but the complex elements of his confession. The reader is left with the sense that even though he was avenged he did not fulfill his purpose. That is, he was not able to walk away without a guilty conscience or compassion for his victim. Someone as twisted as Montresor, who would murder someone in a way that promotes great suffering merely over an insult, would not be expected to feel guilt or compassion. Whichever it may be, many consider Montresor to be an epitome of evil. However, sometimes even the most evil individual can experience remorse despite themselves.

Works Cited
Delaney, Bill. "Poe's The Cask of Amontillado." The Explicator
Vol. 64 (2005): 39-41.
Gruesser, John. "Poe's The Cask of Amontillado." ¬The Explicator
Vol. 56 (1998): 129-133.
Poe, Edgar Allen. "The Cask of Amontillado." The Norton Anthology of American
Literature. Comp. and ed. Julia Reidhead. New York: W.W Norton and Company
2003. 1592-1597.
Stepp, Walter. "The Ironic Double in Poe's ‘The Cask of Amontillado." Studies in Short
Fiction Vol. 13 (1996): 448-453.
Return to 123HelpMe.com