Montresor believes that "A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser." In other words, revenge is not truly exacted if the person seeking revenge is punished for it. Therefore, a crucial part of Montresor's revenge lies in maintaining the appearance of innocence so that he is not brought up on charges of murder. To be so charged would negate the value of the act in his eyes. However, Montresor never seems to consider that, though he may succeed in maintaining the appearance of innocence, he may still feel guilty about his crime, and this guilt could be punishment enough to "overtake" him as the redresser he discusses.
When Montresor speaks, we can see that he is speaking to someone. He says, "You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not supposed, however, that I gave utterance to a threat." Who is this "You"? Who would "know the nature" of Montresor's soul? Some would argue that he is speaking to a priest as a priest would, theoretically, have this knowledge. Further, in the story's conclusion, Montresor says, "For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed [Fortunato's bones]." Therefore, it has been some fifty years since he took his revenge on this enemy. It is reasonable to suggest that Montresor is now an old man, perhaps on his deathbed, and that he is making his final confession to a priest before his death. The final line of the story ("In pace requiescat!"), which translates to "rest in peace," could be applied, then, to either Fortunato or to Montresor. Perhaps Montresor felt that he could not rest in peace with this sin still on his conscience, and so he had to confess it. This would mean that his conscience has been weighted with his guilt for the past fifty years, and, if this is the case, has he really gotten away with his revenge? Wouldn't his guilt be a terrible punishment?
Therefore, a potential thesis could read: Although Montresor believes that his revenge on Fortunato was successful because he escaped punishment for his crime, ultimately, his own guilt punishes him for what he did, and this negates the achievement of his revenge.
The Theme of Revenge in “The Cask of Amontillado” Essay
1629 Words7 Pages
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is a frightening and entertaining short story about the severe consequences that result from persistent mockery and an unforgiving heart. Poe’s excellent use of Gothicism within the story sets the perfect tone for a dark and sinister plot of murder to unfold. “The Cask of Amontillado” simply overflows with various themes and other literary elements that result from Poe’s Gothic style of writing. Of these various themes, one that tends to dominant the story as a whole is the theme of revenge, which Poe supports with his sophisticated use of direct and indirect factors, irony, and symbolism. The theme of revenge in “The Cask of Amontillado” is the driving force for the entire short story. The…show more content…
Each of these factors shares the possibility of contributing to Montresor’s vengeful act against Fortunato. Another indirect factor that could contribute to Montresor’s vengeful act, and thus the story’s theme of revenge, is his state of mind. Some critics have analyzed the opening line of this short story and have determined that it could contribute to an insane state of mind. When the opening line states, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge,” it does not describe what the insult is. The fact that Montresor does not give a specific description of the insult leads many critics to believe that Montresor has acted irrationally in murdering Fortunato and that he is insane. Another example of Montresor’s insanity is found when he replies to Fortunato’s screams (Baraban). In the story, Montresor states, “I replied to the yells of him who clamoured. I re-echoed, I aided, I surpassed them in volume and in strength” (Poe 1616). Critics view this statement as contributing to Montresor’s unstable state of mind, and thus contributing to his act of revenge (Baraban). The last indirect factor that could contribute to Montresor’s vengeful act, and thus the story’s theme of revenge, is the short story’s social class aspects and how they relate to both Montresor and Fortunato. At this