In "The Cask of Amontillado," who is Montresor telling the story to, and what evidence is there to prove this?

In "The Cask of Amontillado," Montresor may be telling the story to his priest. The evidence in the story to prove this is when he says, "You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat." A priest or other spiritual confessor would certainly know the nature of Montresor's soul.

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There is some evidence to suggest that Montresor is telling his story and confessing his brutal crime to a Catholic priest. At the beginning of the story, Montresor directly addresses someone by saying, "You, who so well know the nature of my soul...." This important piece of evidence suggests that he is speaking to a priest. A priest would certainly know the nature of Montresor's soul after listening to his confessions over the years. A priest would also be required to keep Montresor's crime a secret or risk being excommunicated by the Church for disclosing the identity of a penitent who confessed a crime to him sacramentally. The reader also understands that the story is set in Italy, which is a predominantly Catholic nation. Also, the Latin phrase "In pace requiescat!" suggests that Montresor is Catholic. This additional information supports the theory that Montresor is confessing to a priest.

The narrative also seems to be a confession by nature. At the beginning of the story, Montresor explicitly states that he is determined to punish with impunity and tells the story fifty years after the crime. If Montresor committed the crime in his mid-twenties, he would be in his mid-seventies at the present moment. As a seventy-year-old man, Montresor may be close to death and is possibly making his final confession to a priest before he passes away. It is likely that Montresor has guilt weighing on his conscience and would like to unburden himself before he dies, which is why he confesses his crime to a Catholic priest.

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," Montresor never explicitly states who he is addressing his narrative to, but one interpretation is that he is speaking to a Catholic priest. In the first paragraph of the short story, Montresor says, "You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat." One could infer that only a Catholic priest would know the nature of Montresor's soul, so the reader can interpret the story as a confession. The audience knows that Montresor is serious about getting away with his crime, which significantly narrows the possibilities of people he could be addressing. While it is possible that Montresor is speaking to his wife, close friend, or relative, the audience recognizes that Montresor would be jeopardizing his freedom and risk ruining his reputation.

If Montresor were to tell a family member or close friend, they would more than likely view him differently or possibly entertain the idea of turning him in to the authorities. It is also significant that Montresor is telling his story fifty years after the crime. Montresor is more than likely an old man telling his story and possibly giving a deathbed confession to a priest. Montresor also may be hinting that he feels guilty for committing the crime by saying, "My heart grew sick—on account of the dampness of the catacombs."

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“The Cask of Amontillado” can be interpreted as a confession by a man to his priest. For fifty years, Montresor has kept the terrible secret of how he exacted revenge on Fortunato to himself. But now, for one reason or another, he's finally felt able to reveal what happened on that fateful day during carnival a half-century ago.

Though it's never explicitly spelled out that Montresor is actually confessing to a priest, there are certain clues that point in that direction. For instance, when Montresor says, “You, who know so well the nature of my soul,” it's difficult to see who else he could be referring to other than a priest or spiritual confessor.

It's almost certain that Montresor isn't telling his story to a friend or family member. Their opinion of Montresor would be changed forever—and not for the better—if he revealed to them that he was, in effect, a murderer. Besides, Montresor, even after all these years, still wants to get away with his crime, and confessing that crime to a friend or family member would run the risk of his being apprehended by the authorities.

But a priest, on the other hand, is duty-bound not to betray a confidence. Whatever Montresor says to him in the confines of the confessional is not to be revealed to another living soul. In telling his story to a priest, then, Montresor can unburden his soul while at the same time ensuring that he will continue to get away with the crime he committed so many years ago.

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While the person to whom Montresor narrates the story of his revenge is never specified, several clues indicate he is telling it to his priest. First, he addresses the person as "You, who so well know the nature of my soul." The term "soul" rather than "me" would indicate he addresses a spiritual advisor. Given that Montresor is an adult when he walls up Fortunato, he must very old now: "For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them [Fortunato's remains]." In other words, fifty years have gone by since Montresor did his evil deed, so we might assume he is on his deathbed and confessing his misdeeds. We can draw the conclusion that he is Catholic since the story takes place in Venice, a Catholic city. That he feels guilt, which would lead him to confess, is suggested by his saying "my heart grew sick" as he finishes his task of the walling up his enemy. He explains that this heartsickness was due to "the dampness of the catacombs" but we as readers might suspect a guilty conscience has motivated Montresor to break his long silence. 

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