The Cask of Amontillado

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Edgar Allen Poe was a master of the horror genre and The Cask of Amontillado was no exception. This was the story of what may have been a perfect crime. Narrating events that took place fifty years before, Montresor, a wealthy Frenchman, began the tale by explaining that Fortunato, a fellow wine connoisseur, after a series of unknown events insulted him. Although Montresor never states what this insult was, he was angry enough about it to premeditate Fortunato’s murder. Montresor’s true goal lay not only in revenge, but also in escaping punishment for the crime. The central idea of The Cask of Amontillado is about freedom: with freedom to make choices, some people choose revenge and will go through whatever means necessary to exact it.

There are two characters in The Cask of Amontillado: Montresor and Fortunato. The main character and narrator of this story was Montresor. Terms such as protagonist and antagonist did not have much ground in regards to this short story. Montresor murders Fortunato, so defining Montresor as good or even justifiable in his actions was out of the question, due to the fact he was the definition of an unreliable narrator. Fortunato was in the same boat. Although it was not specifically stated in the story, Fortunato has, in one way or another, insulted Montresor to the point where the latter deemed it necessary to kill the former. Montresor was of French descent; besides his obvious French name there are other clues that pointed to this as well. He donned a roquelaire (a French cape) for the carnival festivities and he also used the French word for torch (flambeaux). Fortunato was Italian, this was made clear early in the story when Montresor said, “Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit… In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack.” Fortunato was flat and static, he was perceived throughout the story as an alcoholic who was a poor judge of character. The only change that he underwent was death and...
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