Essay Sample Describing Revenge in "A Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe

Published: 2022-02-21 07:52:42
Essay Sample Describing Revenge in "A Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories: Edgar Allan Poe
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1616 words
14 min read

A cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe presents a story of murder driven by revenge. Allan uses characters that are both intimidating and manipulative to advance the theme of revenge. He also portrays Fortunato as gullible and competitive, a character that lands him into a trap well laid by Montresor. The book presents a lack of respect for the correct channels of justice and instead upholds taking matters into one's own hands. Montresor believes that the only way he can seek justice is through his actions and not through a system. He is consumed by the anger and hate he has towards Fortunato for insulting him, and he decides to exert his revenge upon him playing the judge and jury (Collins, 153). He does not seek outside opinion and rarely lets Fortunato redeem himself or his actions. Allan provides a subjective story that readers are only able to explore using Montresor's standpoint. The story is built on the theme of revenge, a driving force that keeps Montresor moving. He is the executor of the revenge mission whereas Fortunato is the unfortunate victim who is subjected to a gruesome death without the chance of a real trial.

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The short story starts with Fortunato, a wine connoisseur, being named the root of the problem that Montresor is facing. Montresor is bitter about the treatment he has constantly received from Fortunato, and he is pushed to the edge by the final insult that Fortunato hails at him (Ketovic). He laments "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge" (Poe 1) The readers get a chance to explore how Montresor thinks as they are let into his mind to hear his specific thoughts. Montresor plots how he exactly he is going to revenge, and he gets a perfect plan. He uses his deep understanding of Fortunato's likes and fears and uses it to plot his death. Montresor's character is seen as being manipulative when he mentions that if Fortunato is not interested in tasting the wine, then he will seek the help of Luchesi. Montresor understands that Fortunato views Luchesi as a foe and a competitor and as such is compelled to agree to the offer. Fortunato's love for wine makes him susceptible to the plot that Montresor has put in place. He is approached during the Carnival, and the idea of Montresor finding something that could pass for Amontillado lures him into the trap that Montresor had in place. He goes into the vault hoping to taste the wine and find out if it is Amontillado without considering anything else. He is blindly led into the vault and sidelined because he was more focused on proving himself than in ensuring the legitimacy of the trip. Montresor suffers an injured ego, and his unforgiving heart drives him to create this revenge mission (Ketovik). Years later lying on a death bed, he confesses his sins burdened by the guilt. Fortunato forewarned Montresor about his demise in the future and that he should consider that before killing him. Montresor was consumed by revenge that he did not listen, but years later the load becomes too heavy, and he sees the need to share his evil act.

The action of Montresor cannot be justified even though he expresses the reasons for his revenge. Psychologists have claimed that the actions of Montresor could be attributed to insanity since his state of mind was made unstable by ideas of oppression in his mind (Saxton). Throughout the short story, the readers are not let into the specific wrongs that Fortunato has committed against Montresor; instead, we are given vague reasons. The reason is weak, and one could be led to think that they are not even real but rather imagined in the head of Montresor. The narration is subjective, and thus, only captures one side of the accounts. There is no certainty in the legitimacy of Montresor's claims. He might be delusional and stressed. The fact that he hails from a higher social class than Montresor, he could easily be a target for mistakes he did not even remember he made (Saxton). Montresor is affected by the fact that Fortunato does not recognize his insignia and it infuriates him more seeing the social divide between the two men. He is therefore consumed by the idea to execute the perfect murder (Collins, 153). He meticulously plans everything out to avoid mistakes and prevent anyone from finding out the atrocity he commits. Poe shows Montresor using his wish for revenge as a motive to continue his plan. "For a brief moment I hesitated, I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess, but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of catacomb and felt satisfied. I reapproached the wall' I replied to the yells of him who clamored. I re-echoed, I aided, I surpassed them in volume and strength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still." (Poe, 10). The way he describes the murder and the revenge mission makes the reader question his mental stability.

Montresor vows revenge against Fortunato for the crimes he has committed against him. He marries the idea of revenge, and that is what drives him. He is hell-bent on ensuring that he makes Fortunato pay for his mistakes. Poe therefore first introduces the readers to the motive that drives the book through the comment made by Montresor vowing revenge. Montresor is also driven and bound by his family motto that states that "No one wounds me with impunity," the family insignia also dictates that anyone who insults the family name should be dealt with preferably by death (Poe, 14). The two bind Montresor to his mission of revenge against Fortunato and drive him to create a well-articulated plan. In the last paragraph, Poe shows Montresor mocking Fortunato showing his pure hatred for him (The Confinement). "But to these words, I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud - "Fortunato!" No answer. I called again - "Fortunato!" (Poe, 12). Hate is driving force for revenge and Montresor had enough bottled up to finally act against the man that not only humiliated him but also insulted his family name. Poe portrays the evils of man in the short story; he gives an account of sin punishment, hatred and revenge and how when put together they can be disastrous (The Confinement). Some readers may agree with the driving force behind Montresor's revenge mission and his murderous act but what is certain is that it was wrong. Even Montresor remains confined by the guilt of his actions and is eventually driven to confess his sins.

Montresor used Fortunato's love for wine against him and ensured he was intoxicated before he could carry out his revenge mission. Montresor is cunning and is words are luring. He reminds Fortunato that he is from a noble background and that his health is paramount when he is affected by the niter. However, he is sure to mention that Luchesi could replace him instead. Fortunato not wanting to give in to his competitor instead chooses to go on with the trip down the vault and Montresor gives him the wine to ensure he stays intoxicated. Poe ensures we see the point of view of the story from Montresor's side and that as the readers we can judge his actions not justify. As Fortunato continues his journey down the catacomb he does not know his fate and neither does he understand the plans that Montresor has for him. As the readers, we understand the vengeful motive that Montresor holds, and this dramatic irony used by Poe goes ahead to strengthen the theme of revenge. He gives the character the name Fortunato which is ironic because the whole story depicts nothing but misfortune on his side. Montresor when explaining his family's insignia to Fortunato expresses his motives since the foot crushing the serpent's fangs that are dug into the heel of a human foot shows how the end shall be. The foot is meant to symbolize Montresor whereas the snake is Fortunato who insulted the house of Montresor and now faces the wrath of revenge. Montresor tells Fortunato about his fate, and he derives pleasure from the situation. Fortunato after sobering up comes to the dull realization that his desire for wine blinded his thinking and finally lead to his demise.

Edgar Allan Poe creates a well-crafted short story that is laced with a strong desire for revenge and a secret death that is only revealed years later. Montresor the manipulative and creative character is consumed by hate and a desire to revenge against Fortunato the man responsible for his suffering. The vow he makes at the beginning of the book binds him to execute the revenge, and the family motto also makes it his responsibility to punish Fortunato. Revenge drives the book even though the specificity of the revenge mission is not disclosed to the readers.

Works Cited

"The Confinement of Revenge, Guilt, and Family in "The Cask of Amontillado." VC Voices 28 Apr. 2015, invoices,org/2015/04/the-confinement-of-revenge-guilt-and-family-in-the-cask-of-Amontillado/.

Collins, Michael James. "Republicanism and the Masonic Imagination in Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado.'" Symbiosis 12.2 (2008): 149-166.

Ketovic, Marko. The Motif of Madness in Selected Short Stories by EA Poe. Diss. Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences., 2017.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The cask of Amontillado. The Creative Company, 2008.

Saxton, Audrey. "The Devil's in the Details: A Characterization of Montresor in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado."" Criterion: A Journal of Literary Criticism 10.1 (2017): 16.

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Essay Sample Describing Revenge in "A Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe. (2022, Feb 21). Retrieved from

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