Revenge in The Cask of Amontillado

Revenge in The Cask of Amontillado

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Revenge in The Cask of Amontillado

Revenge is the deliberate act of inflicting injury in
return for injury. Revenge also is the ghost that haunts one
man's soul for almost fifty years in Edgar Allen Poe's "The
Cask of Amontillado." Is vengeance really satisfied by
Montersor in Poe's tale? No, not only is it not satisfied,
but also ironically he damns himself for all eternity!
At the beginning Montersor gives us his two criteria
for revenge: "A wrong" he says "is unredressed when
retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally
unredresse[d] when the avenger fails to make himself
felt as such to him who has done the wrong."
(Harris 335)
Are these two criteria met? "No retribution seems to over
take Montresor" (Harris 335). But, that is just how it
seems. From the onset of the story "... the narrator
[Montresor] suffers from a guilty conscience..." (Gruesser
1), which means that Montersor did suffer. Poe also makes no
indication that Montersor ever told Fortunato why he is
executing this "motiveless evil"(Harris 335). Therefore,
neither of Montresor's requirements of vengeance are
accounted for. In reality Montersor permits himself to be
transformed from family avenger into a cold-blooded murder.
"He [Montresor] count[s] on God's judgment as the final
instrument of his revenge. He kill[s] his enemy by leading
him into sins of pride, vanity and drunkenness" (Cooney
195). Here Montersor fails also. When Fortunato poses a last
prayer for mercy to his murderer and his God, "'For the love
God, Montersor!' 'Yes,' I said, 'for the love of God'"(Poe
153). "To this, Montersor [is] deaf and when the prayer
receive[s] a merciful hearing in heaven, Montersor's
stratagems backfire[s]. Fortunato, lucky as his name
suggests [is] saved; Montersor damned"(Cooney 196). This is
reiterated by Gruesser when he writes "...going through with
the murder, Montersor boldly defies God, damning himself for
all time." Cooney also states that Montersor misses the
irony at the beginning of his own confession, "You who so
well know the nature of my soul"(Poe 149). This implies that
he has been confessing to this "priest" for quite a while,
but has not been confessing all of his sins; this in turn
makes all of Montersor's confessions in vain. Cooney also
shares with us that because of these false confessions
instead of being instruments of salvation they become
instruments of damnation. "Here, surely, is the irony of a
confession without repentance, an irony that makes the
entire plan double back upon the doer"(Cooney 196). So now
not only does he have the blood of Fortunato on his hands,
but the wrath of God on his head.
In Poe's last line "In pace requiescat," "let him rest
in peace," Montresor prays for the soul of Fortunato, but as

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with the telling of his confession Montersor realizes that
he does not accomplish his vengeance on any level. He did
not even achieve the sole requirements for his own brand of
retribution. And now must face his own soul and God because,
"Even now, when on his deathbed Montersor confesses all his
sins, he is deluded in thinking himself forgiven"(Cooney
196). Still, unfortunately, with this small prayer and
confession, for all eternity Montersor will be remembered as
a heartless, sadistic executioner.




Bibliography:

Cooney, James. "The Cask of Amontillado": Some Further
Ironies." Studies in Short Fiction. 11 (1974):
195-196.
Gruesser, John. "Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado'."
Explicator. Spring. 1998: 129-30. EBSCOHost.
Available.
http://ehostvgw3.epnet.com/print2.a...itToPrint
=7&image1.x=30&image.1y=12. 24 Oct. 2000.
Harris, Kathryn Montgomery. "Ironic Revenge In Poe's
'The Cask or Amontillado'." Studies in Short
Fiction. 6 (1969): 333-335.
Poe, Edgar Allen. "The Cask Of Amontillado." Literature
and the Writing Process. Elizabeth Mcmanhan, Susan
X. Day, and Robert Funk. 5th ed. Upper Saddler
River, NJ: Prentic Hall, 1999. 149-53.



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