Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," is a story of revenge to the highest degree. This theme is evident in the first sentence, "the thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge." The suggestion of vengeance is repeated several more times in the opening paragraph. Poe gives us a view at premeditated murder from the details in his story told through the eyes of Montresor. While he carefully removes unnecessary parts of the story, Poe elaborately and vividly relates this bone-chilling tale of revenge while keeping his audience waiting for more. The theme of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" is reprisal and he uses all the elements of fiction (plot, setting, characters, and theme) in illustrating this theme to his readers. In the beginning of the "The Cask of Amontillado," the reader learns that Fortunato has insulted the main character and narrator of the story, whose name, Montresor, we do not learn until the very end of story. However, we purposely are never told just how Montresor was offended by Fortunato. Montresor states that he "must not only punish, but punish with impunity." Montresor wants revenge for Forunato's wrongdoing, but he does not want to be punished for what he will do to Fortunato. Montresor's innate desire causes him to thoroughly plan for his former friend's murder, but he is sensible and desires that his deeds will not damage him or his reputation. This is mainly because Montresor believes he is fully justified in killing Fortunato for his insults and thus should not be punished for what he believes is doing the right thing.
It is clear from the very first paragraph that what Montresor has planned for Fortunato is horrific, but justified' death. Montresor states "A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong." This line
Cited: Poe, Edgar Allan. "A Cask of Amontillado." Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004.