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Why is it important to the story that Montresor is insane?I have no idea how to answer...

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student0611 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 13, 2011 at 8:39 AM via web

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Why is it important to the story that Montresor is insane?

I have no idea how to answer this question! Help please!

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 13, 2011 at 9:00 AM (Answer #2)

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Personally, I don't think he is insane.  I think he's perfectly sane, but evil. If, however, you assume he is insane, it's important because it changes the whole meaning of the story.

If he's sane, this is a story about a man who is so evil that he is willing to take this horrible revenge on a person and never feel the least bit of remorse.  He does not even bother to tell us why he hates Fortunato.  He's so evil that he is willing to kill this guy in this slow and terrible way without having anything substantive against him.

If he's insane, the whole story changes.  If he's insane, it's not about good and evil at all.  If he is insane, we no longer have to wonder why he would be so evil.  It becomes simply a story about how unlucky Fortunato was to make an enemy of a crazy person.

So, if Montresor really is insane, the whole point of the story changes.

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mrs-nelson | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 16, 2011 at 6:57 PM (Answer #3)

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Dont forget Montresor's time-honored family motto, "Nemo me impune lacessit" - loosly translated as, "no one insults me without punishment ".  Montressor was living up to family expectations of what to do with someone who insults the family name - Italian mob style.  Poe wants you to wonder how an otherwise rational person can do such a thing.  His intention is to shock you and if Montresor is insane, it's kind of a let down.  It takes the interest and fascination out of the story.  Poe wrote this short story in a way that every detail was carefully crafted to create the sinister effect he is so good at.  I think Montresor would be insulted if we thought he were anything but rational and purposeful. 

 

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cocoherb | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 29, 2011 at 10:08 AM (Answer #4)

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Personally, I don't think he is insane.  I think he's perfectly sane, but evil. If, however, you assume he is insane, it's important because it changes the whole meaning of the story.

If he's sane, this is a story about a man who is so evil that he is willing to take this horrible revenge on a person and never feel the least bit of remorse.  He does not even bother to tell us why he hates Fortunato.  He's so evil that he is willing to kill this guy in this slow and terrible way without having anything substantive against him.

If he's insane, the whole story changes.  If he's insane, it's not about good and evil at all.  If he is insane, we no longer have to wonder why he would be so evil.  It becomes simply a story about how unlucky Fortunato was to make an enemy of a crazy person.

So, if Montresor really is insane, the whole point of the story changes.

  No remorse?  I think he DOES feel remorse.  Fifty years later, he feels the need to tell us this story.  Even at the time of Fortunato's death, Montresor admits, "My heart grew sick."   We are left wondering whether he even intended to kill Fortunato or just to scare him silly--with an event so incredible that if Fortunato were to run to authorities with the story, he would be disbelieved.  (Reminds me of Thurber's "The Catbird Seat.") 

I don't think Montresor is insane.  I think he let his desire for revenge get the best of him and regrets it now.  Even though he got away with murder, he still says Rest In Peace at the end.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 21, 2011 at 6:36 PM (Answer #5)

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When Montresor says, "My heart grew sick," he quickly adds "on account of the dampness of the catacombs," making a jest about his lack of feeling. If anything, he seems disappointed that only the bells of Fortunato's hat jingle as now his torture of the man ends.  For, earlier when Fortunato says, "For the love of God, Montresor," the narrator replies with great irony, "Yes...for the love of God."  This same irony is present in his remark "In pace requiescat!" as he boasts that no one has yet discovered his crime.

What kind of narrator is Montesor? Unreliable, arrogant, and insane, yes.  For, he takes a sick pride in what he has done to Fortunato and boasts of it in ironic ways, much like the narrator of "The Black Cat" by Poe.  

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 25, 2011 at 12:57 PM (Answer #6)

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I think he could be called a sociopath.  He murders in cold blood and without caring.  He worries about the consequences to himself, and wants to make sure he gets away with it.  He seems to feel bad at the end, but dismisses it as the air.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM (Answer #7)

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I don't believe that Montresor's sanity or insanity are important. In either case he wants to commit a murder and to make it a perfect crime. He manages to do just that. His plan comes off to his perfect satisfaction. At the end of the story he boasts that the body of his victim has not been discovered for fifty years. This is an accomplishment because Fortunato was a prominent man and there would have been many investigations, inquiries, and actual searches. People would be talking about the disappearance for years and would have been discussing every aspect of the mystery. Montresor undoubtedly expected to be asked questions about when he had last seen Fortunato, whether he had any suspicions or ideas to offer, and that sort of thing. However, he had made a habit of referring to Fortunato as his friend and his good friend, and he had never betrayed any signs of animosity. He did not expect to be questioned by the police, but only to be involved in general discussions of the strange disappearance. If Montresor was insane, he did not let anybody see any indications of that fact, because that might have led people to suspect him of being responsible for Fortunato's disappearance and probable death. How can a man be insane and not betray his insanity over a long period of time in his speech or actions? If he was criminally insane, wouldn't he have thought of committing other murders over the years--like some of the serial killers we have read about in the newspaers?

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