What are the moral lessons that one can get from "The Cask of Amontillado"?
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The main moral question that this story raises is simply this: Does vengeance equal justice, or is revenge always just? The answer, in this teacher's humble opinion, is that "The Cask of Amontillado" shows us the sometimes deranged mentality driving acts of revenge.
Our narrator here is not Batman, nor is he even "The Punisher," but rather someone who has taken a slight offense and has applied to it the ultimate pricetag, death. Clearly we see that his state of mind, though cogently explained, is askew at best.
Hence, the moral lesson we may derive from this short piece is simply: Revenge is not always equal to the offense it portends to make right, particularly if the act of retribution is murder. A comparison one might draw is that of Robin Hood -- Was it okay for him to rob from the rich to give to the poor? Or is thieving always thieving just as murder is always murder, no matter what the motive? Such are the universal questions and lessons literature uses to keep our humanity in check.
You should be careful when you nurse a grudge. The grudge can eat you up until you end up doing something regrettable. Montresor may not have really reached that point, but he did do a terrible thing whether he realizes it or not.
In my opinion, the first lesson we can learn is to never trust an unreliable narrator! The narrator of this story is clearly mentally ill, so he is highly unreliable. We never know what his nemesis did to Fortunato to make him want to murder him, so this leads me to believe that Fortunato did nothing and that the narrator was simply jealous of him. Morally, in all seriousness, we can clearly see in this story that, obviously, murdering someone is absolutely and unequivocally wrong and that revenge is a temporary fix for bigger issues within ourselves (insecurities, etc.).
Poe explores the sinister mind via the character of Montressor, whose thirst for revenge consumes him. This quest for revenge leads him to plot, to plan, Fortunato's murder. Revenge can never lead to goodness. However, more significantly, Fortunato's fondness for wine--which can be interepreted as the deadly sin gluttony--leads him to his death. He willingly drinks the wine that kills him. Revenge and gluttony have no spiritual benefits, and in fact contribute to one's eternal downfall.
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