Revenge Isn't Sweet Forever: Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado"

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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...
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