In "The Cask of Amontillado," does the author expect the reader to make an emotional connection to the story?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The author probably expects the reader to identify with the protagonist, even though Montresor is a murderer and a little bit insane. We identify with a character if we are in his point of view and if we can relate to his motivation. We are held steadfastly in Montresor's point of view from beginning to end, and we have probably all felt a desire for revenge at one time or another-- even though we might not have wanted to chain anybody to a rock wall and leave him to die. Montresor's problem throughout the story is to lure Fortunato to a certain place where he has everything prepared to do just this to a man he hates. We are emotionally involved to the extent that we want to see him accomplish his plan successfully. When Montresor does succeed in exacting his revenge, we share in his feeling of closure. We share in his guilt and in his sin, too. But this is only a temporary feeling, like something experienced in a dream, or a nightmare. After all, it wasn't us who did that awful deed. It was some guy named Montresor, and it happened a long time ago. Edgar Allan Poe himself was venting some of his hatred for somebody through the creation of a character called Montresor who does something Poe himself would have liked to do to an enemy. So we might say that we are actually making an emotional connection with Edgar Allan Poe and experiencing the closure he must have felt when he finished writing his story. 

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