In "The Cask of Amontillado," what observations provide clues to the narrator's state of mind?

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Stephanie Gregg eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edgar Allan Poe immediately gives us a sense that the narrator of his story is overly obsessed with getting revenge on his "friend" Fortunado, who had supposedly caused him a "thousand injuries."  We never understand what these injuries are, when or even if they actually occurred, and if so, how exaggerated the narrator's claim really is.  He states in the opening paragraph:

At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled . . . .

His obsession is intensified each time he sees Fortunado, to whom he "continued . . . to smile in his face."  It's as if the narrator enjoys plotting his revenge while Fortunado remains clueless.  Fortunado's actions toward the narrator, however, makes us a little uneasy--if Fortunado has really been so terrible to the narrator, why is he so friendly when they meet on the street?  Is Fortunado truly hateful and mean to the narrator, or is the mistreatment in his imagination?  When Montresor toasts to Fortunado's long life, we have to wonder what kind of person he is, since we know that he is at that moment about to realize his revenge.  The irony is fulfilled when he creates Fortunado's tomb, in effect burying him alive yet hoping he will live long to suffer long.  This event leaves little doubt to the sanity--or lack thereof--of the narrator.

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The Cask of Amontillado

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