What does the narrator mean when he says, "It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong"? I think the first sentence ("A wrong is...

What does the narrator mean when he says, "It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong"?

I think the first sentence ("A wrong is undressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. ") says that a wrong is undone once the avenger gets revenge? Does the second part mean that a wrong can also be undone if the avenger feels guilty about what he did to get revenge??

Thanks(:

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linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I think you're almost there. The first quotation, "A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser," in my opinion, means that revenge backfires when the person seeking revenge gets caught up in the emotions and just lashes out. The verb "redress" means "to set right, to rectify." The point is to get even, not to lose your head. You haven't rectified the situation if your actions just make it worse.

The second quotation, which you ask about in your question, means that unless the person who wronged you knows that you have taken vengeance, you really haven't gotten any vengeance at all. It's like shooting spit wads at a person and not getting caught. The guy knows somebody was zinging him, but he doesn't know who or why. He has no awareness that it was in retaliation for something he has done.

I hope this helps you!

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

Montresor is simply saying that revenge is not successful if the avenger gets caught and punished, and, further, that the avenger will not feel satisfied with his revenge unless the victim knows who is responsible. It would not be satisfactory revenge, according to Montresor, if the avenger sent his enemy a bomb in the mail or shot him from ambush on a dark night. Montresor sets up these conditions for the perfect revenge, or perfect crime, and then proceeds to describe how he satisfies them.

Fortunato is intoxicated when Montresor encounters him on the street. He remains drunk on French wine until he finds himself chained to the rock wall inside the narrow crypt. But he must be sober in order for Montresor to be sure that he, the avenger, has "made himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong." So Poe, through his narrator, shows first of all that Fortunato becomes sober, especially in the following quote:

I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man.

Then the now-sober victim gives Montresor exactly the satisfaction he requires. Fortunato cries:

“For the love of God, Montresor!”

This is the first and only time that Fortunato addresses Montresor by name. It is proof positive that Montresor has fulfilled the second requirement of revenge he specified early in the tale.

A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

When Fortunato calls Montresor by name and begs for mercy, he is giving Montresor the main thing he wanted, which was satisfaction, or closure. Montresor did not want merely to kill Fortunato; he wanted to get rid of all the painful feelings that had been accumulating in his heart and mind from the "thousand injuries" he had suffered over what must have been a long period of time. It is likely that when Montresor concludes his narrative with the words In pace requiescat! he really means them. Fortunato has been dead for fifty years. Montresor has never been suspected. He has achieved perfect revenge and probably feels utterly cleansed of all the hatred that led him to commit his horrible crime. His victim is nothing but a skeleton dressed in the tattered, soiled rags of a jester's costume and still held in chains.

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