Describe the character of Montresor in "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe.

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Montresor narrates “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe. The story describes the perfect murder and murderer.  As a narrator, Montresor is not reliable because the reader only receives the information that he provides. 

The story centers on revenge.  Montresor will seek his vengeance through a carefully planned crime. From the first word of the story, Montresor gives his reasons:

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.

This seems to be a rather flimsy reason for murder; nevertheless, Montresor will seek his revenge.

The details about Montresor’s character  are limited:

  • His family is wealthy
  • He has servants
  • His family burial ground is under the house in catacombs
  • His family does will seek revenge on anyone who does them harm
  • He is a meticulous planner

No others details are given by the author.

Montresor despises Fortunato.  He has observed carefully the weaknesses of Fortunato and planned his revenge from this.  As he entices his drunken victim, Montresor knows exactly what to say to   interest Fortunato. The trip through the catacombs is difficult and disgusting. Yet, Fortunato is willing to prove Montresor has made a foolish decision, and he is a better judge of wine.

Montresor carries out his plan with little or no remorse. As he begins to place the last stone, he admits that he has struggles with it. He has not difficulty with any other stone. This is the only time that he demonstrates any true emotion. When he is finishing the bricking up of the wall that will be Fortunato’s grave, he states:  

I thrust the torch through the remaining aperture and let in fall within.  There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. 

It is more likely that Montresor has a glimmer of regret realizing that he is condemning another human being to his horrific death.

The character of Montresor represents the dark side of human beings who would like to pay someone back for an affront. His answers to Fortunato appeal to the sarcastic side of man.  Knowing the remarks symbolize dramatic irony allows the reader to admire Montresor's witty retorts.

When the reader learns that the story has been told as a flashback, it is obvious that Montresor has carried out the perfect crime.  No one has discovered the body of Fortunato for fifty years. Finally, Montresor has the opportunity to brag about his detailed murder of his foe Fortunato.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

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