The Cask of Amontillado Analysis Essay Example


“Death is the great leveler.” - Claudian. Perhaps this quote is a bit too harsh, but for some, death is the only revenge. In Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor is revealed as such a person. An unforgiving individual, he goes to extremes to seek vengeance on a friend, Fortunato, because of an insult. Montresor’s nature illustrates his perfect revenge, making him an admirable villain. Although Montresor is viewed by many as a crazed killer, he is, in fact, a commendable character due to his patience, deceitfulness, and intelligence. 

Montresor’s ability to be patient allows him to be successful in avoiding skepticism. Instead of rushing into his master plan and making Fortunato suspicious, he takes his time and thoroughly thinks each step through. Montresor urges Fortunato:

“Come,” I said, with decision, “we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible”. (par. 35)

Even though Montresor wants to kill Fortunato, he acts like he has all the time in the world. Montresor also shows that he’s waited for the ideal time and place to entice Fortunato. “It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend”. (par. 4). Montresor not only knows that Fortunato would be drunk and vulnerable, but that everyone would be in costume, unable to recognize him.

Montresor uses deception to fool numerous people. Montresor worries, “My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre”. (par. 21). Montresor acts as if he is genuinely concerned for the health of Fortunato. Surely, Fortunato would never suspect that Montresor was planning to kill him. The reader learns that Fortunato is not the only one who falls victim to Montresor’s cunning tactics. In order for Montresor’s house to be completely empty when he and Fortunato arrive, he plays with the minds of his attendants. He bragged:

“I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned”. (par. 24). 

Montresor’s clever and powerful words present just another one of his talents he uses to achieve his plan.

Montresor’s intelligence allows him to successfully kill Fortunato without any suspicions and also allows him to resemble a normal person. In the beginning of the story, Montresor asserted, “I must not only punish, but punish with impunity”. (par. 1). He is aware that he needs to appear happy. “It must be understood, that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will” (par. 2). This quote shows Montresor’s ability to keep his resentment towards Fortunato a secret, enabling him to smoothly carry out his plan. Not once does Fortunato or anyone else suspect of Montresor’s motives. The reader later learns at the end of the story that this murderer had taken place fifty years ago, without anyone ever knowing.

Through Montresor’s patience, deceitfulness, and intelligence is he able to successfully obtain his revenge. He uses his strengths and his enemy’s weaknesses to his advantage. Yes, Montresor may be a hysterical killer, but he must be given credit for the way he manipulates people and arranges his plan. This takes impressive skill and Montresor shows he is the perfect villain. The irony and chilling humor that are produced as a result of Montresor’s words and actions create a suspenseful feeling among the audience. This greatly enhances the plot and development of the story. Montresor’s need for revenge creates the perfect narrative and criminal.

 

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