The Cask that Amontillado Themes The main themes in “The Cask that Amontillado” room ambivalence, self-delusion, and also substance abuse.

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Ambivalence: readers are never told the nature the the “thousand injuries that Fortunato,” and also Montresor himself appears somewhat ambivalent about the revenge that takes ~ above his “friend.”Self-delusion: Montresor appears to be under the delusion that his murder of Fortunato is just, and also perhaps also that Fortunato has wronged him in ~ all, when Fortunato is under the delusion the Montresor means him no harm.Substance abuse: Alcohol and drunkenness play main roles in the story, contributing to Fortunato’s gullibility and also ultimate demise in Montresor’s alcohol cellar.
last Updated ~ above February 25, 2021, through Editorial. Word Count: 1184


Ambivalence might be one unexpected template for a story in i m sorry a man"s emotions and also intent room one-sided to the point of burying one more man alive, yet the surface events conceal a depth meaning. One cannot know precisely what urges Montresor in his quest for revenge. Poe leaves the leader in the dark about the "thousand injuries" to which Montresor has been subjected. It"s conceivable that Montresor suffers from paranoia and is under a enormous delusion about Fortunato"s treatment of him. He continues, through the narrative, to describe him as his "friend." The impression is just one of a guy compelled to lug out retributive righteousness almost versus his will. The final statement, "rest in peace," is ironic but perhaps the key to the entire story. If without doubt this is an adversary he has killed, it"s strange that this wish sums increase his narrative.


An analogy in the Poe canon is "The black Cat," in which the narrator declares the he eliminated Pluto with tears streaming under his cheeks because the cat love him and also had never done him any harm. The very same is true concerning the elderly victim in "The Tell-Tale Heart." Poe alludes come the "perversity" that urges his killers; that is simply as specific to describe the emotion that restrict these characters as a sort of bizarre, grand-scale ambivalence. Lock love and hate on one exaggerated, practically supernatural plane, in a type of grotesque manifestation that the irrationality the lies at the heart of human behavior.


Montresor, everything the fact or unreality the Fortunato"s wrong perpetrated against him, is duping himself. He begins with an extensive statement, prefer a postulate, top top the nature the vengeance and the proper means of enacting it against a foe. He says a dorn is "unredressed when the avenger stops working to do himself felt as such to the one who has actually wronged him." however he never tells Fortunato why he"s death him. Not just does he not say what the particular wrongs committed against him have been, he provides no indication at all to the victim, also in the most basic way, the revenge is what motivates him. Perhaps Montresor does not define himself because there"s nothing come explain. In any type of event, he shows up to it is in under a delusion that he"s to be victimized, or at the very least in reasoning that suffocating a guy alive is the ideal punishment for whatever Fortunato has actually supposedly done.

Fortunato has been deluded into thinking Montresor a friend. In ~ no allude until that is in reality happening does that seem to suspect that Montresor intends to carry out him harm. Even after Montresor has led him right into the niche and also chained him, Fortunato"s reaction is one of complete bewilderment. He seems to have no idea the what"s acquisition place, or why.

Readers have to be wary of overinterpretation on this point. Poe"s key purpose, in a story such together this, might be just to present a horrific incident that isn"t plan to be looked into as much more than an circumstances of grisly cruelty, a straightforward account the the potential for sadistic violence that is one unfortunate ingredient of human nature. To review a further fancy message right into it runs the danger of attributing motives to Poe the were perhaps foreign to the unpretentious, non-didactic style of his fiction.

Substance Abuse

The theme of alcoholism and also substance abuse in basic is for this reason prevalent and so herbal in Poe that it can sometimes be overlooked. "The Cask of Amontillado" take away place during Carnival, a time the revelry and drunkenness. Not just is Fortunato drunk once Montresor lures him to the catacombs, however the bait is a cask that wine. Ironically, Fortunato seems to gain back his sobriety, or in ~ least, Montresor thinks he does. Nevertheless, it"s unlikely the Fortunato would have actually been therefore trusting to start with had actually he no been under the influence of alcohol.


Though Fortunato finally pleads, "For the love of God, Montresor!" until this point his reaction to gift walled up alive has actually been muted, come say the least. The does not seem conscious of what"s happening, or come care. That defies person reason for also a drunken guy to action this way. The may believe at very first that the entirety thing is a joke, together he says, "An great jest! us shall have plenty of a wealthy laugh around it at the palazzo." yet when he finally realizes he"s being entombed, instead of questioning Montresor, "Why are you doing this?" he provides an irrational plea to Fortunato"s spiritual conscience.

The bizarre reaction of Fortunato room a winter of Montresor"s very own irrationality. Regardless of whatever "injuries" may have been inflicted ~ above him, it"s an understatement to observe the burying a man alive is an exaggerated and also sadistic type of retribution.


Poe"s expedition of hypocrisy wake up on numerous levels. Montresor is the ultimate hypocrite in presenting self to Fortunato together a girlfriend when, in reality, he no him. He looks for revenge, however the honorable and honest way of afford it, in the paper definition of the time and also place, would be to an obstacle him to a duel, or at least face him open minded in a much less violent manner. Instead, that feigns amiability and also takes benefit of the drunken state Fortunato is in to surprised him and kill him once Fortunato has no opportunity to defend himself.

The setting in i m sorry this takes location is symbolic of a type of collective hypocrisy that the facility to i m sorry Poe alludes elsewhere as well. The is very possible that the vault in which Montresor carries out his arrangement contains the skeleton of victim of the Inquisition. In both “The Pit and also the Pendulum” and also “The black color Cat,” the religious hypocrisy of the past is a backdrop, in the one instance specifically in the story itself, and also in the other, a reenactment i beg your pardon the narrator alludes to as soon as he wall surfaces up the human body of his murdered mam as “the monks of the Inquisition” did their victims. The catacombs in “The Cask of Amontillado” are an emblem of the religious hypocrisy of Europe"s past and, together such, are the perfect setup for Montresor"s cruelty.


A corollary the the template of hypocrisy requires the story"s alleged moral. Poe"s works space at the very least implicitly nihilistic, offered that that repeatedly mirrors the many amoral of personalities acting the end their fantasies there is no regard for the lives and feelings of others. At times, in “The black color Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the killer is caught, and also retribution, the leader is to understand, will follow. But in “The Cask the Amontillado,” the killer is never ever reprimanded. His very own self-justification, as noted, is hypocritical, and also Poe evidently intends it come be checked out that way. However in any type of tale whereby a wrong is unredressed, the implied moral is that on some level, the wrong is justified and is as such not a wrong at all. The is a type of negation of morality, or at least a theme that anticipates the existentialist authors in mirroring the individual together the creator that his own system of right and also wrong, fairly than as a monitor of religion and also convention.

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