The Cask of Amontillado is a short story written by Edgar
Allan Poe that has become a great reference when it comes to understanding how
various literary themes are made use of in literature as well as the way different
themes are brought out in a story (enotes). The work of Allan
Poe in this book as been said to be one of his best and one of the best when it
comes to short stories. Despite the fact that these story is considered short,
the story is in fact, very comprehensive. It gives a complete story about a man
who seeks to destroy another in an act of revenge. The story is complete in
every way in that all the properties of a story are included whilst the main
aim of the author is seen by the time the story ends (enotes). Despite the fact that the story is based
around a character who seeks to commit an act of revenge on another, there are
various elements in the story which point out to more themes, in addition to
revenge. These elements are embedded in the story in addition to the theme of
revenge and they depict that the story had more to offer than simple revenge.
To better understand how these other elements are used in the story, it is best
to first explain the story briefly.
cask of Amontillado is a short story whose main characters are Montresor and
Fortunato. There are a number of other important characters who play a
significant in the story, however, these two characters direct the theme of the
story as intended. The story is written in a way that the main character,
Montresor, is seen to be addressing the reader directly. This is using first
person speech in the story (cliffsnotes). Despite this fact,
it cannot be assumed that Montresor is addressing the reader, but is addressing
another person to whom he is telling the story of the incident of him with
the story, Montresor begins by stating the way that a man, named Fortunato, has
injured him repeatedly and because of this, he wanted to take revenge on this
person. In the story, Montresor is painted as a man who is part of a wealthy
family. His wealthy stats as such is the reason why he feels Fortunato, has
been injuring him for a while and that this was unacceptable (cliffsnotes). According to the
story, the word injure is used to mean disrespect by Fortunato to Montresor.
These acts of disrespect are seen to be directed to Montresor through word of
mouth by Fortunato. However, the insults are not intended to be insults but are
simply the words of a drunk man at the carnivore.
the story, Montresor’s revenge is carried out on one fateful day during the
Carnival. Montresor meets Fortunato at the carnival and entices him with a rare
liquor which Fortunato was thrilled to hear of (enotes).
Fortunato, as described by the author, was a man who considered himself an
expert at wines, which is what Montresor used to get the better part of him. The
rare liquor in this story was the Amontillado. Montresor tricked Fortunato into
coming with him to his home with the lie that he would let Fortunato try out
the liquor. The liquor according to Montresor was stored in the Montresor home
vaults which is what prompted Fortunato to follow him. As the story progresses,
we see the way the Fortunato follows Montresor through the crypts with the hope
of finding the liquor. The author uses irony in his story, where we see Fortunato,
even despite the fact that the is being led to his death, continues to insult
the man who will kill him (Spacey).
However, even with the insults coming from Fortunato, Montresor keeps up a
façade and never lets Fortunato know of his deep hatred for him. The end of the
journey for Fortunato becomes his literal end where Montresor takes advantage
of Fortunato’s drunken state and ties him up to a wall (123helpme.com). Montresor then goes
ahead to put a brick wall around him which is meant to bury him alive.
theme of revenge is very evident in the ‘cask of Amontillado’ from the way that
Montresor plots to kill Fortunato, to the way he executes his diabolical plan
and is able to get away with it. Revenge in the story can easily be said to be
the main theme of the story as it is what the story is all about. However, other
elements are seen. This is especially near the end of the book where we finally
understand the story is a Montresor giving the story of the way he killed
Fortunato 50 years ago (Spacey).
The story is set in a way that Montresor is giving the story of his deeds 50
years ago. During that time, Montresor is 50 years older to the young Montresor
that killed Fortunato.
addition to revenge, one thing that comes out clearly is regret. In the story,
Montresor iss part of a family whish is known for their love of revenge. This
is re-iterated by Fortunato who comments about the court of arms which belonged
to the Montresor family and which represented the reputation of the Montresor
family when it came to revenge (cliffsnotes). However, the story
is based around the fact that Montresor is now an old man who is telling the
story to another. In this act of Montresor telling another about the incident
depicts regret in that it can only be assumed that he is either telling the
story to a fellow family member or to a priest (123helpme.com). Both scenarios
however would signify that he is now in regret of his actions 50 years ago.
the theme of religion and spiritualism is seen in the story. As Montresor was
in the process of burying Fortunato, Fortunato utters something that seems to
eat away at Montresor 50 years later. Fortunato, in a drunken effort to beg
Montresor not to kill him said “for the Love of God’. These words, despite
being a desperate attempt by Fortunato to save his own life, are seen as words
meant as a reminder (123helpme.com). They are seen as a
reminder of the futility of revenge and the risk that comes with carrying out a
perfect revenge. At the time the words were uttered, Montresor simply repeated
them mockingly, but 50 years later, they are seen as lessons on the human soul.
The words are seen as warnings on the risk of losing one’s soul while pursuing evil
deeds as a product of revenge (Spacey).
Montresor appears haunted by these words after so many years and this shows
that Montresor was unable to perform a perfect revenge.
A perfect revenge in
this case is one that is lust after for a long time, where a plan is plotted
for a long time, and where when the act is finally done, there is no risk of
being discovered, the pursuer of the act of revenge is fully satisfied with their
deed of revenge and they have no regrets for doing so after. In this case,
Montresor regretted the act of killing Fortunato which depicts the revenge was
not perfect (cliffsnotes). Religion in the
story brings out the element of ethics and is a lesson on respecting human life
and avoiding acts of revenge. Montresor is seen as a prime example of a man plagued
with despair for the last 50 years because he chose to execute his act of
revenge on the man, Fortunato, while they were still young men.
123helpme.com. “Theme of
Revenge in Poe’s ‘The Cask Of Amontillado’. 2016. web. 2018.
cliffsnotes. Summary and Analysis
“The Cask of Amontillado”. 2016. web. 2018.
enotes. “The Cask of
Amontillado” Edgar Allan Poe. 2017. web. 2018.
Spacey, Andrew. An Analysis of
Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Cask of Amontillado. 2016. web. 2018.