Eng-102 (CGA): Professor Sateriale
Formal Response 4
3 March 2013
The Cask of Amontillado
Edgar Allan Poe, an American short-story writer, essayist, and poet, published “The Cask of Amontillado” in 1846. It was his last, and some say greatest, short story. It’s a tale of revenge, death, fear, and trust set in a vast underground Italian catacomb (underground cemetery).
The whole plot deals with the inebriation and, ultimately, the live burial of the antagonist, Fortunato. The most prominent theme running through this story is the theme of revenge. It plays on the people’s fear of death, and curiosity of live burial. It also plays on the notion of many people’s way of jumping into things, and not thinking of the consequences beforehand. From the very beginning of the story, even from the first line, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge,” the theme of revenge becomes apparent and obvious.
In this story, the protagonist thinks carefully about the subject of revenge and the subject of his revenge. “I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.” The motives behind the main character’s vengeful actions are, in his mind, very good ones. "The Cask of Amontillado" is told in a much lighter tone, although we know from the beginning that there is a desire for revenge. There is a sense of urgency in the storytelling, as well as the feeling that something will happen at any moment. Certain language gives us clues that this story is not only about revenge, but death as well. Montresor, the narrator, says, "I must not only punish, but punish with impunity and that Fortunato "did not perceive that my to smile now was at the thought of his immolation." Such language implies that murder is the intended revenge. Montresor seems to have planned his revenge quite well, and does not hesitate to carry it out when the opportunity presents itself. He uses Fortunato's weaknesses against him quite effectively. It seems obvious that he will use Fortunato's love of fine wine to cause his downfall, and Montresor plays to his vanity to ensure his cooperation. Montresor seems single minded in his goal, and determined to see the death of Fortunato.
While the tone in this piece remains light, the imagery is quite dark. Montresor and Fortunato meet at night, and their descent into the dark, damp vaults is reminiscent of death. This is quite appropriate since the vaults are also the Montresor family catacombs. It is ironic that Fortunato is sick and Montresor expresses concern over his health, as this seems contrary to his goal of revenge. However, perhaps Montresor is leaving himself a way out in case things go wrong, or perhaps he is only behaving in such a manner so as to not arouse Fortunato's suspicions. The description of the Montresor family coat of arms is also symbolic of the whole story, in that the serpent biting the heel represents Fortunato's betrayal, and the foot crushing the snake illustrates Montresor's revenge.
The horror of being…