Montresor's Motive for Murder
Understanding Montresor’s Motive for Murder What would drive one to murder? Is there any case in which the act of taking another’s life is justified? These are some of the questions raised in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”. In this short story, the main character Montresor meticulously plans and executes a man named Fortunato for showing him insult. To go through such lengths as these, it is apparent that honor is a very important value of Montresor’s and to diminish it in any way would be liable to the most severe of punishments. Montresor’s value of honor remains true throughout the story, unaltered even after ending Fortunato’s life. It is this value that must be analyzed in order to understand the mindset of Montresor and to justify his actions. Montresor is driven to take the life of Fortunato by an obligatory sense of family devotion, revealing a similar justification for killing complimentary to a patriot fighting for their country. The importance of family, to Montresor, is shown in one aspect by Poe’s enigmatic setting. A mystery commonly investigated by critics of Poe is why the setting of the story is never explicitly revealed to the reader. This mystery can be solved when one simply analyzes Montresor’s motivation for killing Fortunato. The setting is never revealed because its revelation would mislead readers from the much bigger riddle, which is why insult alone is enough to justify murder. Poe did not want the reader to delve any deeper into Montresor’s heritage because then the reader would know him as “Montresor of Italy” or “Montresor of France”. Poe wanted the reader to know Montresor as simply “Montresor”; nothing beyond that matters to Poe and nothing beyond that matters to Montresor. This mindset of undying loyalty embedded into Montresor by his family is similar to the loyalty created in a soldier of the military. It does not matter who they were before they entered into the armed forces; all they are known as now is a
Cited: Hartle, Anthony E. "Atrocities In War: Dirty Hands And Noncombatants." Social Research 69.4 (2002): 963-979. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.
Miller, D. Quentin, and Julie Nash. Connections: Literature for Composition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.
Stepp, Walter. "The Ironic Double In Poe 's 'The Cask Of Amontillado '." Studies In Short Fiction 13.4 (1976): 447. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.
White, Patrick. "The Cask Of Amontillado": A Case For The Defense." Studies In Short Fiction 26.4 (1989): 550-555. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.