Literature Studies: “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe
The short story of Edgar Allan Poe called “The Cask of Amontillado” is full of contrasts. The author creates a brilliant description of two characters through a narration. None of the features of the characters are mentioned directly. We learn about the characters and their personalities as we read the story.
Edgar Allan Poe used his skills and talent to build up the feeling of anticipation in the readers’ minds. He informs the readers about the main theme of the story, yet he leaves them wondering what kind of revenge Montresor is preparing for Fortunato.
The main characters of “The Cask of Amontillado” are called Montresor and Fortunato. Montresor is the narrator of the story. He tells about the events of one night that happened many years ago. It is interesting to think if the reader should trust Montresor because by the end of his story he reveals himself as a horrible person.
The readers should ask themselves if they want to believe the words of the narrator, a flawed and deceptive person, who is able to kill someone without a doubt or a second thought.
If it is so easy for him to lie, is it possible that the story he just told us is also a fiction? What if in real Montresor is just a mean person that made up a story about a cruel murder of someone, who hurt him long ago, and keeps telling it to everyone because he still cannot forget the offense?
Comparing the characters of Montresor and Fortunato we can see that they are different in many aspects. First of all, Fortunato is constantly described as a very passionate person, filled with an inner fire, he is impulsive and emotional, he keeps shouting “Amontillado! Come, let us go!” (Poe, par. 8).
He is dressed in a carnival costume and a hat with little bells. He is very fond of alcohol, Montresor finds him after Fortunato has been drinking a lot, this is why it becomes so easy to catch his attention with a simple promise that somewhere in the vault there is a bottle of fine amontillado waiting for him. Fortunato is emotional, trusting and very simple.
From the very beginning, the reader is aware of Montresor’s horrible plan; this is why it is easy to see his evil sarcasm when he says “I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand” (Poe, par. 4). Montresor is excited anticipating the end of this evening. The opportunity to take revenge makes him happy. He is cold-blooded and cunning.
It is hard to choose a character to admire. One is a rude and primitive alcoholic, ready to endanger his health in order to have another sip of wine, the other one is a liar and a cruel murderer. Fortunato is open about his emotions. Montresor hides his true self and never speaks about how he feels. Both characters are examples of the extremes of human behavior. I admire neither of these extremes.
The personalities of Fortunato and Montresor are the causes of what happened to them in the story. Rude and straightforward Fortunato did not even notice how he offended someone, who never forgave him. Locked up Montresor is so passive aggressive that his aggression turns him into a monster. Edgar Poe shows to his readers that being any of these two people is dangerous and may lead to unpredictable consequences.
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Cask of Amontillado. n. d. Web. 18 Jun. 2014. <http://www.literature.org/authors/poe-edgar-allan/amontillado.html>