Nov 19, 2020 in Literature

The Cask of Amontillado

Duplicity of Characters in "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe

The "Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe was first published in the November issue of Godey's Lady's Book of 1846. The story was written in the most disastrous period of the writer's life, which is obviously reflected in the mood of this novel.

The plot of the story seems to be simple, but only at the first sight. The story is set in a nameless Italian city in an unmarked time not coincidentally Edgar Poe puts a criminal and his consciousness in the center of the story. The narration is carried out in the first person of Montresor telling of his deadly revenge to his friend Fortunato, who allegedly humiliated him. Revenge appears in the form of immuring into the wall.


Author uses similar plot in different variations (burial alive, immuring corpse) in his few other stories ("The Tell-Tale Heart" and "Black Cat"). The plot construction in the form of confession of the murderer concentrates attention on the psychological part of the action. Montresor reveals the reasons for his criminal actions and describes the process of committing the crime. As the main causes of crime, the author points to the inner human tendency to violate the norms of morality, the ignobility of motives and desires.

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The story of "Cask of Amontillado" is full of antagonistic metaphors. Action develops against the background of a masquerade which represents freedom, and finishes at the diminutive crypt that has no way out. Story starts withMontresor and Fortunato taking part in Carnival. After they decide to go to catacomb to taste Amontillado, the space around them becomes smaller and darker. What we can understand as a sign of frenemies traveling further away from liberty.

Fortunato is finally incarcerated in the area which is opposition of freedom - the wall niche where he was being fettered and immured in. First you may think that Montresor is an antipode to Fortunatos destiny he finds freedom and stays alive. Of course, Montresor seems to be able to do whatever he wants. Ironically, he chooses not to bury this story, but to tell it. He obviously cannot forget it, so it is possible to conclude that his own vendetta had his mind trapped down in the crypt with Fortunato.

Language tools selected by the narrator allow readers to get an idea of the duality of his personality. Having conceived and carefully planned the murder of his friend Fortunato, Montresor shows no nervousness. He had studied the weaknesses of his abuser, such as vanity, ostentatious love for good wine, measures ignorance, and naivety. Moreover, he systematically rubbed into the trust, was courteous and accommodating. Montresor allows himself to be ironic about the long life and health in a conversation with his ex-abuser. He uses frilly forms of communication and is attentive to details, yet still giving a hint on his intentions being not that simple by telling about vendetta oriented arms and the motto of his family while proceeding deeper into vaults.

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Montresor easily gets motley dressed Fortunato completely drunk on the way to the cask of Amontillado The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. Fortunato who was expected to be sincere in the matter of old wines and who ended up drinking all the way to the pipe, showed himself as a fake connoisseur of wine, whose vanity and pride got him into Montresors trap. Although Montresor declares in the story that he is skilful in the Italian vintages himself and that Fortunato, a quack in some ways, is sincere in the matter of old wines, their conduct on the excursion into the cellar would seem to belie any such claims. In the first place, Fortunato is intoxicated, a disqualifying condition for any serious wine tasting.

Revenge was prudently conceived and skillfully executed which characterizes Montresor as a cold-blooded, ruthless and crafty person. Revenge was chosen in a very sophisticated way. At the same time, we can talk about vulnerable pride of the protagonist, secrecy, resentment, obsession, and even manic tendencies. Montresor got a great manipulator talent, he subtly played with others minds. Be that bluff about Luchresi assistance, he might use to make Fortunato leave the carnival and go to Montresors vaults, or tricking attendants at home indicating to return not earlier then morning and giving orders not to stir from the house.

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Burial alive, of course, is the most monstrous horror which befell to mortal. And sane person barely chooses this method of reckoning with the abuser. This would bring to considering Montresor a mad man, but the expertly-crafted and implemented plan makes a reader think twice. The fact that the awful vengeance was being taken when no real offense had been given, brings to a conclusion that human nature in author's presentation is dark yet being dual: it unites conscious and unconscious, obsession and deliberation. This allows one hero to use only own powers to commit the crime and to analyze the process as if from outside. When Montresor says the last line, In pace requiescat! it is already hard to distinguish to whom the message was addressed.

Edgar Allan Poe was one of the first writers who caught the threat of lack of spirituality in the new trends of American society development. The story clearly shows author's attitude to life as to a carnival, where people wear masks and that brings them to death and destruction. The duplicity of main characters showed in "Cask of Amontillado" makes the reader go deeper into reasons, values and morals of human beings.


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