In "The Cask of Amontillado" did Fortunato deserve to die? Why?

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mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It depends on what your opinion is.

My personal opinion is no.  Even though Fortunado did seem like a bit of an insensitive buffoon, it is hard to believe that he deserved to be entombed in the catacombs forever, and with such cruel intent and insidious yet mocking execution.  We don't have very much background information on the guy, and what exactly he did to Montresor to elicit his wrath; all we get is one line:

"THE THOUSAND INJURIES of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge."

So, being offended by a "thousand injuries" and "insult" were the motives for murder in Montresor's case.  Is insulting someone or injuring their ego a good justification for murder?  Personally, I say no way!  It's hard to justify murder in ANY case, ever, and here we have what seems to be Montresor and his precious pride being the only things that are wounded.  Granted, the injuries could have been severe; he could have done something just awful.  But for some reason, I don't get the sense of that from the story; I feel it is more likely that Montresor is a slightly eccentric and neurotic person who takes offense easily, and Fortunado is a silly, rich, insensitive person.  And, the two don't mix very well.  Certainly not a situation that warranted the cruel murder that was the end result.

That is my opinion; hopefully it gives you some things to think about as you formulate your own thoughts.  Good luck!

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

We may not know the specifics of what Fortunato did, but we do know he did not kill anyone.  To that extent, then, he did not deserve to die.  And even if he did, it's not Montressor's place to be the administrator of such a punishment.  Reliable or nat, sane or not, injuries or not, Montressor had no right to kill Fortunato--especially in such a cruel and unusual way.

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

It depends on what your opinion is.

My personal opinion is no.  Even though Fortunado did seem like a bit of an insensitive buffoon, it is hard to believe that he deserved to be entombed in the catacombs forever, and with such cruel intent and insidious yet mocking execution.  We don't have very much background information on the guy, and what exactly he did to Montresor to elicit his wrath; all we get is one line:

"THE THOUSAND INJURIES of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge."

So, being offended by a "thousand injuries" and "insult" were the motives for murder in Montresor's case.  Is insulting someone or injuring their ego a good justification for murder?  Personally, I say no way!  It's hard to justify murder in ANY case, ever, and here we have what seems to be Montresor and his precious pride being the only things that are wounded.  Granted, the injuries could have been severe; he could have done something just awful.  But for some reason, I don't get the sense of that from the story; I feel it is more likely that Montresor is a slightly eccentric and neurotic person who takes offense easily, and Fortunado is a silly, rich, insensitive person.  And, the two don't mix very well.  Certainly not a situation that warranted the cruel murder that was the end result.

That is my opinion; hopefully it gives you some things to think about as you formulate your own thoughts.  Good luck!

I agree with your thoughts. I do think Poe is really exploring the some of the aspects of insanity in his stories. This one, "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Black Cat" and "The Pit and the Pendulum" are all stories that get into the mind of an insane person.

I don't think that Fortunado deserved to die for what he did to Montresor, but to an insane person...that is an entirely different story. The paranoia, and exaggeration that goes with the mental illness all creep up into an explosive rage that without treatment may end up with someone's untimely death.

 

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

No one deserves to die.  Besides, we don't even know if Montressor is a realiable narrator...doesn't he seem a little off his rocker to you?  This offense by Fortunato could be completely in his warped mind. 

Even those who do kill don't necessarily deserve to die.  Who are we to judge? 

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

It's not clear whether or not Fortunato deserved to die, because Montresor never states what exactly Fortunato has done to him.  Montresor does mention the "thousand injuries of Fortunato," but doesn't elaborate on what the unfortunate victim did to finally push Montresor over the edge.  The irony of Fortunato's name--because good fortune is clearly not his this evening--is readily apparent, and it's also obvious Montresor is descended from a defensive group of people, given that the family motto at the entrance to the catacombs means, "No one insults me with impunity." 

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joe30pl | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

It depends. I would say this falls under the trope of the unreliable narrator. We have no idea what Fortunato has done to Montresor, save for his mentioning of a thousand injuries. Fortunato does seem like a boor, true, but does Montresor really seal him alive in the crypt? We have only his word that he has and that no has disturbed the site in several years. A better question might be, has Montresor gotten away with his crime?

Getting back to the question of Fortunato, others have said no; that perhaps Fortunato did not deserve death, but from Montresor's viewpoint the answer is a resounding yes. That does make things a bit difficult, so I would say just go with your own perspective. 

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asecetic-acid | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

That story is actually sick. What I mean by that is this Fortunato does not seem to be the one who inflicted thousand injuries upon Montresor. I mean do you ever talk to someone so sincerely if you are so hostile against each other. But Montresor does and they don's seem to be at odds with each other at all. Fortunato sounds friendly and replies montresor's questions kindly not suspecting the real plot behind. then why kill him really.

I think poe here creates an ironic setting intendedly to shock the reader. He gives us few clues as to the justification of killing, which makes the story even more sadistic.

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elsntoque | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Given the ambiguity of Montresor's purpose of killing him, it can be strongly held that Fortunato did not deserve to die at all. Montresor, in his narration, just said that the reason why he wanted revenge (that is to kill) is because "when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge." Problem is he did not give a clear picture of insult i.e. how was he insulted?, was it really deep? as to what extent. Given this vagueness, I believe, Fortunato deserves to live. And if he would die, he deserves a happy death, at least.

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tremens | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

There is not enough information given by Poe to answer the question which is clearly the author's intent.  The better question is whether Fortunato thinks he deserves to die.  That is, again intendedly, the only clue as to justification.

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aaaaaaaa | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I agree with number 5, but just wanted to add that many people  belive that Fortunato had an affair with Montressor's wife, and his wife is one of the bodies in Montressor's wine celler.

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