Rocio Cruz Professor Fred Kille English 102 February 3, 2013 The Cask of Amontillado Essay “A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself as such to him who has done the wrong” Some people are driven to do wrong by enviousness and Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado” is one good example of such. The story tells the event of the murder of Fortunato in the hands of Montresor, the narrator.
Although many critics argue that Montresor acted out of self- righteousness, one cannot conclude such due to the lack of credibility that can be accounted to him and his malice. Montresor is an unreliable, malicious narrator who shows to have contrasting feelings of guilt and remorse towards his crime against killing Fortunato. Montresor, through his own telling of the events, showed not only that he is not accountable for credibility but he also showed that his main motif to kill Fortunato was enviousness.
Perhaps the most revealing reason to asses that Montresor is not a just person is that he lacked evidence to condemn Fortunato.
For instance, Montresor opens the story by saying “the thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. ” These latter lines are all the reader knows of Fortuno’s presumed crime which suggests that there was no concrete wrongdoing from Fortuno after all; therefore revealing that Montresor acted without proof and out of malice.
In further support of the claim that the narrator is bad-natured is that he also shows to be a cynic. Throughout the story he constantly refers to Fortunato as “my friend”.
The fact that Montresor does not use negative words to refer to Fortunato tells the audience that he is attempting to protect his self-image and that he acted with hypocrisy. By the same token, the way Montresor talks about Fortuno conveys that he was somewhat envious. While they were already in Montreso’s mansion, he admits to Fortuno “your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was”. This words are enough to disclose that Montreso was jealous of the place that Fortunato held in society; perhaps implying that Montresor himself once occupied the same place.
Not only does Montresor show that he murdered Fortunato unjustifiably but he also seems to live with mixed feelings of guilt and remorse. Following his atrocity, the narrator of the story seems to live with guilty responsibility of killing Fortunato counteracting what many people believe. Montresor’s remorse came right after the crime was committed. “There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick-on account of the dampness of the catacombs,” says Montresor.
To clarify, the narrator first admits that he felt unease in his heart and then, almost like trying to convince himself, he attributes this feeling to the “dampness of the catacombs” showing that his conscience was the true causer of this heart “sickness”. Another clue that tells the reader that Montresor felt guilty is that, although no one certainly knows who the intended audience of the story is, he is conceivably justifying himself to God. In the first paragraph of the story, Montresor says, “You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat”.
By admitting that “You” knows “the nature of [his] soul” the reader can draw the conclusion that it might be someone divine who he is talking to for who else would know him so well? In the same manner, he is asking this divine being to not judge his crime so heavily for he did not simply “give utterance to a threat”. Likewise, another fact that serves as evidence that Montresor is that he is telling the events fifty years later. This goes to show that the event has haunted the narrator for half a century since he not only recalls everything but is taking the time to tell the story.
The narrator of “The Cask of Amontillado” showed, through his own telling of the events, not only an unreliable narrator but also an envious man that is now living in remorse. The events that led to the assassination of Fortunato do not excuse Montresor as he believes they do. From the way in which Montresor “brags” his “perfect crime” the reader can draw the conclusion that he is not but a malicious member of society who tries to justify his wrongdoings by attributing them to the honor of him and his famiy.