Theme Analysis of The Cask of Amontillado
In The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe, the dark side of human nature is exemplified through the character of Montresor and his victim, Fortunato. Montresor is a manipulative and vengeful person. These characteristics lead to the death of Fortunato, a man who has wronged him. Through the acts, words, and the thoughts of Montressor, one is able to see him carry out his plan for revenge.
The story takes place in Italy at a carnival where Montresor and Fortunato meet each other by chance, or so it is seems. The mood at the carnival is lively and exciting. It is then that the two men head towards the catacombs of Montresors home in search of the wine Amontillado. The catacombs are a place of death where skeletons lie scattered against the damp walls, which are covered in nitre. Montresor dons a mask of black silk and a heavy knee length cloak (149). Montresors clothes seem to indicate his wanting to conceal himself so he can carry out his devious plan. On the other side of the spectrum, Fortunato wears a tight fitting parti-striped dress, and his head is surmounted by the conical cap and bells (149). His clothing seems to indicate his trusting but foolish nature. The clothing of both men seems to set the mood for the type of characters they are. However, Montresors true character is indicated through his words. From the beginning of the story his vengeful nature sets the tone for the acts that will follow. One of the first things that Montresor narrates to the reader about Fortunato is that he must not only punish but punish with impunity (149). Montresor is also manipulative, as he tells Fortunato that he will have someone else taste the Amontillado, knowing that by doing this Fortunato will feel compelled to taste the wine himself. As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If anyone has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me (150). In addition to being manipulative and vengeful he also displays condescending traits. Montresor addresses Fortunato in the catacombs saying, your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy as once I was. You are a man to be missed (150).
Montresors actions also lend to his vengeful and manipulative nature. He lures Fortunato into the catacombs of his home to carry out his plans. First he caters to Fortunatos ego by saying that Luchesi was almost as worthy a judge of wine as he (150). Then Montresor tricks Fortunato into believing that there is an expensive pipe of wine in the depths of his catacombs. When they finally reach their destination, Montresor shackles him to the wall, constructs a tomb around him using bricks, and leaves him there to die. It is indicated that in the past that Fortunato has hurt Montresor many times, The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge (149). However, there were never any insults or unkind acts actually mentioned in the story. It is exactly the opposite. Fortunato was friendly and helpful towards Montresor. From the very beginning of the story, one can obviously see that Montresor thinks that Fortunato has wronged him. He had a weak point-this Fortunato-although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared (149). This line shows that Montresors plan was well thought out. There is not any indication of what Fortunato thinks about Montresor. It can only be assumed that he trusts him because he follows him into the catacombs. It is up until the last moment, before the last brick is laid, that Fortunato believes this is all a joke. Ha! Ha! Ha! he! He! He! a very good joke, indeed-an excellent jest (153). Montresor is successful in his plan for vengeance. He succeeds in having Fortunato follow him into the catacombs and with great ease, had him up against the wall and shackled. Then tier by tier, Montresor constructed Fortunatos tomb of bricks around him. When Montresor called out to him, he heard nothing and thus his plan was a success. In pace requiescat! (153).
The final lines definitely show the success of Montresors plan. Throughout the entire story one could see how Montresor completely manipulated Fortunato and lead him to his demise. His vengeful nature made him unable to rethink the evil deed he had just committed. His only concern was to avenge the insults that he perceived. He succeeded in taking someones life without ever revealing his true dark side.
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