Identify traits of Montresor from "The Cask of Amontillado."

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montresor, first and foremost, has a great deal of personal pride.  As soon as he felt truly insulted by Fortunato, "[he] vowed revenge."  Thus, it is somewhat ironic that he chooses to exploit Fortunato's one "weak point" -- his pride -- in order to lure him to his death.  In addition to Montresor’s personal pride, he feels a keen sense of family pride. When Fortunato remarks on the size of the family catacombs, Fortunato replies that “’The Montresors […] were a great and numerous family.” Perhaps they are no longer such “a great and numerous family” (he speaks in the past tense) and this is why Montresor feels such a responsibility to live up to the family motto, a Latin phrase that translates to “You will not harm me with impunity.” In the first paragraph, he specifically says that his goal is to “punish with impunity.” In other words, he is going to best Fortunato by harming him in such a way that it can never come back on him. His family pride will not let him be wounded without punishing the one that wounds him, and his personal pride compels him to punish his enemy without fear of being punished in return.

Montresor is also extremely calculating and adept at dissembling. He says, “It must be understood, that neither by word or deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.” He basically lies to the man’s face day in and day out, without making Fortunato suspicious at all, until the right time comes to commit the murder. Then, he arranges it so that all his servants will be away from home and brings along a “mask of black silk” and a long cloak (complete with hidden trowel), to hide his identity so that Montresor will not even be seen with him as they walk back to his palazzo. He is a good liar, and he is so cunning, and his revenge is perfectly staged as a result.

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The Cask of Amontillado

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