Exactly what does Poe accomplish by using the first person point of view in "The Cask of Amontillado"? In other words, for what possible reasons or effects does Poe choose to use the first person...

Exactly what does Poe accomplish by using the first person point of view in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

In other words, for what possible reasons or effects does Poe choose to use the first person point of view in this particular story of horrific vengeance?

Analyze point of view

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Imagine reading "The Cask of Amontillado" without knowing exactly what Montressor was thinking, or hearing it in his own words.  It wouldn't be much of a story, of course.  If, for example, the story were told only from Fortunato's point of view, we'd probably have no clue about Montressor's intentions until the very end, which is when Fortunato finally figured it out.  If the story were told from a third-person point of view, we'd hear a narrator telling us about Montressor's thoughts but would not hear his actual chilling words:

THE THOUSAND INJURIES of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat.

There is something compelling about being inside this man's rather disturbed mind, something that makes his actions believable.  Without these kind of thoughts presented directly to us by a first-person narrator, the story just isn't particularly believable.  Instead, as we hear Montressor tell this story, our horror grows and we know he's capable of doing such a horrific thing.  No other point of view would suit this character or this story.

Read the study guide:
The Cask of Amontillado

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question