Do you think the narrator is finally “satisfied” when Fortunato is silent in "The Cask of Amontillado"?Do you think the narrator is finally “satisfied” when Fortunato is silent in "The Cask...

Do you think the narrator is finally “satisfied” when Fortunato is silent in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Do you think the narrator is finally “satisfied” when Fortunato is silent in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question. Since you specify "when Fortunato is silent," your question must relate to a final satisfaction with his deed rather than to a satisfaction with his craftiness in succeeding with his plan to take revenge without risking punishment being brought upon himself:

punish with impunity. 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.

Poe uses phrasing and vocabulary that creates an image almost as tangible as an actual shiver down the spine--Montresor's and the reader's! The haste with which Montresor suddenly works and the determined silence he now pursues indicate a terror that has stricken to his soul. His ending words, "In pace requiescat!" (i.e., rest in peace) put a final benediction on what he did a "half of a century" ago. It seems from this that Poe is painting an image of constant internal agitation that starts with the jingle of the costume bell and hearing nothing more answering the torch dropped into the cavern.

"Satisfaction" is the (a) gratification of something desired or (b) compensation for an injury or (c) an opportunity to avenge a wrong. We know that (1) Montresor has now succeeded in fulfilling his desire; (2) he has exacted compensation for an injury; (3) he has avenged a wrong. Therefore it must be concluded that while stricken with horror at the culmination of the deed, Montresor does have satisfaction on three counts. What he does not have is "satisfaction" as (d) pleasure or contentment obtained from the fulfillment of a goal!

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montressor is the typical Gothic antihero whose fate will be to suffer miserably for the obsessions that he created for himself. His obsession is the envy and jealousy that he felt for Fortunato. His other demons involve his obsessive need to see him die, his want for Fortunato to suffer, and his overall anger at Fortunato. However, as with most Gothic literature, we realize that Montressor's demons have nothing to do with Fortunato, and have everything to do with Montressor's personal insecurities and weaknesses. This is why he hides them behind a false feeling of hatred for the man who once was his friend. This being said, Montressor will be doomed to be an unsatisfied criminal who still has to carry the burden of his weakness and depravity, and now the guilt of having killed a man for no real reason.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Montresor completed his perfect crime in "The Cask of Amontillado" without a hitch, and I believe he was perfectly satisfied with the result. He managed to exact revenge without being caught; his victim, Fortunato, paid the ultimate price; and the body was never found. These were Montresor's primary goals, and he fulfilled them perfectly. He was even able to enjoy the irony of the jester's costume that Fortunato wore, and Montresor had the presence of mind to make a pun (concerning the masonry trowel) during their journey through the catacombs. We know that Montresor's crime was never discovered, since he confessed at the end that

For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No. After Fortunato begs Montesor, "For the love of God," Montesor replies ironically and sadistically, "Yes, for the love of God."  When Fortunato does not respond, Montesor remarks that he "hearkened in vain for a reply.  I grew impatient. I called aloud."  Then, when Fortunato still does not respond, Montesor frantically jabs at the aperture with a torch, but hears only the jingling of Fortuanto's costume's bells.  Montesor says his "heart grew sick--on account of the dampness of the catacombs."

At this point, Montesor is faced with no supernatural horror of the gothic; instead, it is a real horror that confronts Montesor:  the horror at what he himself has been capable of doing.  And, this terrorizes him; it does not satisfy him.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is indeed an interesting question, and I can see the merits of all the answers already offered.  One point worth making, perhaps, is that the story begins with Montresor confessing -- indeed, exulting in -- his crime to an unidentified "you." The unnamed "you" is someone whom Montresor credits with knowing well the nature of Montresor's soul.  Presumably this person is a close friend or family member (in which case the person himself or herself may be morally corrupt, since Montresor feels no reluctance to share the story). Or perhaps the unidentified "you" is a priestly confessor or even God. In these ways the very beginning of the story is in some ways its most mysterious and thought-provoking section.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with #4 more than #2. I think one of the clearest indications that Montressor finds that he is actually unsatisfied and also strangely disturbed by what he has done comes with the admission that his heart "grew sick." Now, bearing in mind that he is a profoundly unreliable narrator, we can dismiss the reason he gives. He is unable to comprehend that his heart grew sick on account on what he has done. Thus, rather than bringing satisfaction, the crime he commits so perfectly only introduces a real horror of his own evil nature, which is not able to be covered over by his supposed pleasure in having carried out his crime.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I would agree with post 4. Montressor thought that this would satisfy him. He believed that he would be able to move on after the incident, but he wasn't. After Fourtunado refused to answer him, he became frustrated. That frustration broke through his single-minded anger. That anger was the driving force behind all of his actions. Once his concretration was broken by frustration, he began to have other emotions. Horror at what he had done. He clearly regretted the experience even though he successfully completed the crime.
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't know that he is satisfied.  He got the revenge he wanted, as the previous post says.  But did he really get over whatever insult Fortunato supposedly gave him?  I'm not so sure about that.  After all, 50 years later, he still seems to remember his actions so clearly.  He must think about it a lot.  If he had truly been satisfied, wouldn't he have put it behind him and forgotten about it?  Because he remembers it so vividly, I think he has not really been satisfied by getting his revenge.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
When my last class read this for the first time, they thought Poe himself might have some experience with murder! All kidding aside, the story does seem to accurately depict the mind of a serial killer. Like many of Poe's stories, it is hard to determine if the narrator is a sociopath or psychopath. In other words, does he have no conscience or is he mad? Without really understanding this we cannot say. Psychopaths have delusional feelings and sociopaths have self-centered feelings only.
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The Cask of Amontillado

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